CHARLES COUNTY, Md. — No, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race isn’t over yet. But this marks one more tournament where Gerald Swindle has held serve, to use a tennis term. With Jacob Powroznik finishing 35th at the Bassmaster Elite at the Potomac River presented by Econo Lodge, it appears to be a two-man race between Swindle and Keith Combs for the AOY title.
One regular season full-field event remains, on the Mississippi River at La Crosse, Wis., followed by the AOY Championship among the top 50 in the points race on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. Both tournaments are in September.
This marks the fourth Top 12 finish for both Swindle and Combs. It looks now like the AOY title might have been decided back in April, when the Elite Series split a four-day event between Norfork and Bull Shoals lakes in Arkansas. That’s where Swindle finished 30th and Combs bombed a 90th-place points-wrecker.
“I wish I could do Bull Shoals over, but I can’t take that one back,” Combs said. “It’s basically in Gerald’s hands. If he keeps catching ‘em, I’m not going to catch him.”
Interestingly, it was that Norfork/Bull Shoals event where Swindle felt like he had a great chance to win this year, so he has some regrets too.
“The only time this season that I thought I had an inside shot to do well was getting back to Norfork,” Swindle said. “The first day there I probably caught 50 fish and 20 keepers. I knew if I got back there and was within two or three pounds of the leader, I had a chance to win.”
Swindle was 19th after the first day at Norfork and held that spot on the first day at Bull Shoals. But he dropped to 30th on Day 3 at Bull Shoals, so he didn’t qualify to go back to Norfork on the final Top 12 day.
Combs was 43rd after the first day at Norfork, but caught only 7-7 the second day at Bull Shoals to drop to 90th.
Here’s a tournament-by-tournament look at how Swindle and Combs have finished this season:
1. St. Johns River 40th 14th
2. Winyah Bay 7th 6th
3. Bull Shoals/Norfork 30th 90th
4. Wheeler Lake 10th 39th
5. Toledo Bend Reservoir 34th 4th
6. Lake Texoma 3rd 16th
7. Cayuga Lake 10th 6th
8. Potomac River 10th 6th