278 bags of 20+ pounds

Mille Lacs Lake has pumped out an enormous amount of 20-pound bags in just two days of competition with 50 anglers respectively. If we compare it to the rest of the 2017 season here is how it maps out with 20+ pound bags. For those looking down this list remember that Lake Conroe was the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic and only showcased 52 anglers. Lake Champlain was a full-field Elite Series event, but because of weather was shortened to 3 days. 108 anglers fished Days 1 and 2 and 51 fished the final day.

Randall Tharp caught the only 20-pound bag at Cherokee and Lake Dardanelle was the only event where a 20-pound bag was absent. Mark Davis came close on Day 2 when he registered 19-4 and took the lead, but he was just short of the mark. Lake St. Clair still has the best single-day mark for 20-pound bags when there were 30 on Day 2 of the event.

The only tournament with a 30-pound bag is Lake Okeechobee where there were two weighed. Timmy Horton and Ott DeFoe were the two anglers to throw those heavyweights on the scales.

Mille Lacs has pumped out two twin days as 29 bags of 20+ pounds were brought to the scales both Days 1 and 2, but remember with only 50 anglers it makes that number even more impressive. So far there have been 278 bags of 20 or more pounds this season and on the final day of the year, that number will balloon even more as they approach 300 for the year.

Cherokee Lake (1)
Lake Okeechobee (33)
Lake Conroe (13) — 3 day tournament
Toledo Bend (12)
Ross Barnett (4)
Sam Rayburn (41)
Lake Dardanelle (0)
St. Lawrence River (48)
Lake Champlain (8) — 3 day tournament
Lake St. Clair (60)
Mille Lacs (58)*

*= After 2 days of action

Photo by Garrick Dixon

Video: Rough conditions

Brandon Coulter rides out some rough waves on the final morning of the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship.

Video by Bassmaster Marshal Jon Loch

Today is a game-changer

Today is a game-changer in so many ways. Titles up for grabs, fighting to stay in the world championship and more.

Adding to the mix is the weather. Just keeping both feet solidly planted on the bow of a boat is a challenge. So is boat positioning and lure control.

Here’s the proof from this video just sent by photographer Garrick Dixon.

Same points, but no tie

There is never a tie in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, due to the weight totals, but as of now Jason Christie and Brandon Palaniuk share the lead with 898 points, unofficially.

Jacob Wheeler is still in 3rd, though he is culling and lighting the bass up early on Mille Lacs.

This looks to be a two man race, but Wheeler is catching them nearly every cast and described losing a "giant" of some sort earlier this morning.

This is what it's all about — a championship that comes down to the last day.

Christie with a limit

Christie has finished his limit. The last one, like the rest was 3-pounds or so. He has 15 to 16 pounds to start the day. But he needs those 4- and 5-pound class fish.

And he's hooked up again. That one culled a few ounces. He's building. Just slowly.

Caption This face off

As Brandon Palanuik and Jason Christie face off for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title on Mille Lacs, our fans on Instagram competed for the best caption to this photo. Our favorites are below. Read them all on our Instagram page here

obieluke: There's bass in Idaho?

bassquatch32: Right here, right now.. Ro-sham-bo for AOY?

wmcduffee: Christie: Ever notice how you come across somebody once in awhile you shouldn't have "messed" with? That's me. "Clint Eastwood"

caraledoux: Arm wrestle you for it....

cameron_bye47: You think if we tie they'll let us both take home the trophy?

smurrayfit: I got a few trench pandas in here, wanna see?

big_gar_fishing: You think a 32lb bag is enough?

jason_russ_: If we don't straighten up and catch them this weekend, Wheeler is going to win it all...

shooter1639: I'll see ur four with a five. Come on with it

spennn18: What're ya doin after this?

tbearden7: Winter is coming

 s2h4life: Beer later? Bass don't always bite, but the beer is always cold

tylerblake29: You've got some pretty eyes

ronin0311: Christie: "listen...I am captain now"

phoenix_ed_payne: Wanna play horse for it? You can have the first shot, he-he.

undergroundfishin: Christie-"I don't know why they call you the prodigy kid!?" Palaniuk-"Once you see what's in this bag, you'll know."

gimpy_bassin: Remember when I told you I'd catch this pig right behind you?...

tyler.tambasco: Christie: "What's in your bag ?" BP: " You'll see when I walk away with AOY  "

suttomd2257: Brandon, how do you always manage to outfish me every time? Christie

specklebelly1973: You going to quit and let me take AOY? Nope I'm going to fish to the final second!

trevorlofishing: What kinda beard oil is that?

myersjd123: Did you see the caudal fin on her? Wooo!!!

ztinsley9: This weigh in is gonna be close

lipscombshawn: BP coach it going to be close but I haven't used my best play yet JC you better better get the hell Mary ready their coming for ya.

haroutkokedjianfishing: Are you wearing Chanel N5 cause it smells great on you.

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Christie with three

Finally able to get close enough to Christie and at the same time watch a catch or two on the LIVE show.

Christie actually has three fish in the well. And he's hooked up right now. All these fish are in the 3-pound class or better range.

I think one was a 4. I'm saying Christie has somewhere around 12 1/2 pounds at the moment.

Christie once again getting bites

I got on Christie a little late. We assume he decided at the last moment to pull up short of his expected destination.

In the few short minutes we've been here Christie has caught two keepers. Neither are special but they are keepers. I'd guess 6-pounds total for both and that's liberal.

We don't know how many, or any, he might have caught in the 5 minutes before we arrived.

Christie once again is getting the bites.

Fast starts common at Mille Lacs

Over the past two tournament days, there have been some blazing starts on Mille Lacs Lake. Keith Combs signaled things to come when he caught a 20-pounds-plus limit on five casts around 7 a.m. Thursday. Skeet Reese caught 31-8 in less than 30 minutes Friday from 6:49 to 7:16, and 27-8 of that came in 16 minutes.

"This morning was pure nuts," Reese said Friday. "I felt like I'd run a marathon, I was breathing so hard."

Russ Lane reported catching 20 pounds in 10 casts first thing Friday.

Reese is doing it again today. He had a limit of 16 1/2 pounds by 6:56.

Can anyone top 25 pounds?

Mille Lacs Lake has matched or topped all the statistics from last year's Toyota AOY Championship - except one. No one has weighed a five-bass limit of 25 pounds or more. Last year there were eight 25-plus bags over three days, and three of those topped 26 pounds. Granted, tournament leader Keith Combs has twice come within a fat crawfish in a smallmouth's belly of 25 pounds with consecutive bags of 24-15.

But that goal of 25-plus becomes even more important today. It's what an angler needs to make a significant move in the standings and achieve his goal, whether it be Angler of the Year, Rookie of the Year or a Bassmaster Classic berth. When everyone is catching 20-pound bags, it takes an extraordinary limit to make a significant move in the standings. And everyone is catching 20-pound bags. The average bass weighed-in the past two tournament days at Mille Lacs was 4.03 pounds. Multiply that by five and the result is 20.15. (And that is astounding, by the way.)

A look at last year's Day 3 results at Mille Lacs illustrates the importance of 25-plus. Chris Zaldain was in 37th place on Day 2, caught 26-1 and moved up 15 places in the standings to finish 22nd. Justin Lucas was in 36th place on Day 2, caught 25-3 and jumped 13 places to finish 23rd. Randy Howell was in 31st place, caught 25-4 and moved 11 spots to finish 20th.

It's a similar leap in the standings that all 50 anglers are hoping for today. And everyone knows it can be done on Mille Lacs Lake. It just hasn't been done here the past two days.

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