ADVBassStats: Lay Lake Report

The first two days at the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Lay Lake in Alabama were a preview of what would come. Brandon Palaniuk staked claim to the early lead with a 19-pound, 7-ounce bag on Day 1. Will Davis fired back with an 18-5 on Day 2. Both had top five bags on their “off” day, and Palaniuk held a 1-pound, 9-ounce lead over Davis going into Day 3.
On Saturday a lion roared – Jason Christie came to the scales with a 23-pound bag. It was by far the biggest of the day — by more than 6 pounds — and of the entire tournament. Christie bullied his way from 17th place to second and inserted himself between Palaniuk and Davis heading into the final.
Things got dramatic on Sunday. High skies, hot weather and weekend crowds combined to slow the overall catching. Palaniuk had spent all four days in Beeswax creek and his fish were drying up, while Davis was moving between fast water below the Logan Martin Dam and some very quiet backwater where he could sight fish. BassTrakk showed a dead heat in the afternoon, and it worked out almost exactly that way at the scales. Davis weighed his 14-2, establishing 62-12 as the leading weight. Palaniuk was last to weigh in and needed 11-5 to tie and force a fish-off, or 11-6 to win. His 11-3 was just short and hometown boy Will Davis Jr. took the trophy.
In the last several events the winner has used the trusty strategy of “catching the most big bags.” It was a little different at Lay Lake. Davis won with strong consistency, only logging one of the top 10 bags of the event. Palaniuk and Christie both had two of the top 10.
After the first five events and the completion of the Southeastern U.S. portion of the schedule, the top of the Bassmaster Angler of the Year race has a strong southeastern flavor. The first six anglers represent South Carolina (Cobb), Georgia (Cook), Louisiana (Rivet), Florida (Cox) and Alabama (Welcher and Davis). Brandon Cobb has a significant 49-point lead over Drew Cook in second for AOY. With the remaining events being an East Texas river grinder (Sabine) and three northern events, Mike Iaconelli in seventh looks primed for a big finish.
Here’s a deeper look at the individual event finishes for the AOY top five. Cobb has been exceptional, scoring four Top 10s and a “worst” finish of 20th place at Seminole. His average finish of eighth place is nearly 10 places better than Cook’s second place average. Cook has fished all five Saturdays and three Sundays. Rivet started on an absolute tear but cooled off a bit with three consecutive finishes in the 30s. Much more analysis is available from AdvBassStats on either Instagram or Facebook.