With the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship right around the corner some of you might be asking what am I, and most of the other guys, fishing for. I’m currently in 20th place in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race. Obviously, I can’t win it, and I can’t fall far enough that I won’t qualify for the 2020 GEICO Bassmaster Classic. So, why…
There are several answers to that question. The first is that I’m a competitive professional bass angler. I fish to win no matter what tournament I’m in and no matter what the stakes. If you don’t have that attitude, you need to find another career.
Beyond that, there’s the money. The higher you finish, the more money you make. I know that’ll sound crass to some of you but it’s reality. This is how I earn my living and how I support my family. I am currently in 20th place, which is the last $20,000 AOY check. If I fall to 21st, it goes down to $14,000. If I fall to 26th, it goes down to $11,000. I love to fish. There’s no doubt about that. But I also like to eat, and so does my family.
There’s the sponsor thing, too. The better I do the more exposure I get. My sponsors like more exposure. I want to take every opportunity to get them more and more of it. This is a business, and I want to make sure the ones that support me get what they expect and then some.
Along that same line of thinking I will publicly admit that I haven’t been on Bassmaster LIVE since April. I’d like to change that this week on St. Clair. It’s one of my favorite places to fish so if I can get on LIVE up there it’ll be a real feather in my cap. It’s a pride thing.
The final part of my answer is that I’m a history of the sport buff. I’ve seen AOY tournaments where the winner of the AOY title for the year was never in doubt, and I’ve seen them when it was anyone’s game. This year is one of the really interesting ones, and it’s likely to be a real tussle.
Right now, Scott Canterbury is on top. But he’s only leading by nine points. Chris Zaldain is right on his tail. That would make things interesting with any two anglers, but it’s more so with those two. Both guys know what they’re doing, and they both have fished under pressure before. No one is likely to choke or fall by the wayside.
Right behind them is Cory Johnston. He’s a newcomer to the Bassmaster Elite Series but don’t let that fool you. He’s really, really good, and he’s in the hunt with a legitimate shot to win it all. And Stetson Blaylock’s right behind him. He’s a ways out but it’s possible for him to jump up if he gets a break or two along the way.
Along with what I just said is the absolute fact that St. Clair is one of the great fisheries in the nation. It’s full of big smallmouth bass and some nice largemouth, and those guys will catch plenty of them. It’s unlikely that one or two giants will determine the outcome. What is likely is that finding the key bait and making the right adjustments will determine the outcome.
So that’s what I’m fishing for, and most of the other guys, too. It’s also why you should watch all the action. Professional bass fishing won’t get any better than it’ll be on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.