At a late July cookout in his Central Alabama backyard, Bassmaster Elite Series newcomer Scott Canterbury is moving furiously back and forth between two grills and an electric smoker.
About 25 guests are enjoying his swimming pool, a nearby cornhole game and good country music playing over the outdoor sound system at the Canterbury home.
There’s already more food prepared than the crowd could possibly eat.
But Canterbury’s still cooking.
That’s him in a nutshell.
The 43-year-old pro from Odenville, Ala., is not a sit-still-and-enjoy-life kind of guy. He’s always moving. Always looking for a way to better his situation.
“My wife always says I can’t sit still,” Canterbury said, laughing. “I guess I’ve always been that way.”
Canterbury’s refusal to accept the status quo has shown during his first season on the Elite Series — and now it has him in position to compete for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title as the season enters its stretch run this week at the Berkley Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River presented by Black Velvet.
After seven tournaments, he’s in second place, just 11 points behind Florida pro Drew Cook — and a big reason for Canterbury’s success has been his ability to adjust on the fly.
During the season opener at the St. Johns River in Florida, Canterbury made the decision to go to Rodman Reservoir on Day 1. The trip resulted in five bass that weighed only 10 pounds, 3 ounces and landed him in 55th place out of 75 anglers.
From there, he completely redirected and caught 25-12 and 30-4 the next two days. He ultimately finished ninth in a tournament that held very few prospects for him after a dismal practice.
“If I had been on anything, I would have never gone to Rodman that first day,” he said. “I had absolutely nothing. But I made some changes, and it turned out to be a good tournament for me.”
Then there was the second event of the season at Lake Lanier when Canterbury missed the Top 10 cut for Championship Sunday by just 2 ounces. As he says, he “would have made the cut and might be leading AOY by 20 points” if it hadn’t been for breaking off one big spotted bass.
He finished 22nd at Lake Hartwell. Then during an event at Winyah Bay when many anglers were simply hoping to survive, Canterbury made a hard charge at winning.
He landed a big bass on a buzzbait during the latter stages of Championship Sunday and briefly took the unofficial lead on BASSTrakk before ultimately finishing second to Stetson Blaylock by just 9 ounces.
“Winyah was a blessing,” Canterbury said. “I don’t ever regret the second-place finishes. Don’t get me wrong, I want to win. But when it comes down to it, second is better than third.”
After Winyah, Canterbury had what he deemed his most disappointing tournament of the season — a 49th-place showing on Lake Fork — and another respectable 22nd-place finish at Lake Guntersville in his home state.
He says he’s more than satisfied with his season so far.
His wife, Dixie, says don’t let him fool you.
“Just watch him when he does this,” Dixie says, laughing, as Scott joins the cornhole game after dinner. “You’ll see just how competitive he is when he starts this.”
His competitive fire shows during cornhole. It shows during dinner when he insists he should have removed the skin from a rack of ribs before putting them in the smoker — a rack of ribs the crowd is absolutely inhaling as he laments.
His competitiveness shows in his upstairs den, where stacks of trophies serve as the chief decorations in a spacious new home. During 11 years with FLW, he recorded two victories, had 42 Top 10 finishes and earned $1,308,444.
Now he has new goals in mind.
“When I say I’m not disappointed in second place, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “It bothers me. I just know there are worse places to be.
“Believe me, I’m competitive. I want to win at everything. I want one of those blue trophies (the coveted prize given to all Elite Series winners) upstairs for sure.”
But he says nothing would mean more to him than winning the AOY title.
“I want to win every tournament, but more important than winning a single tournament to me would be to win Angler of the Year,” he said. “Being really consistent is my goal.
“That’s something I’ve learned through the years. You can’t sweat the small stuff — you can’t lose a 4-pounder early in the morning and let it ruin your whole day, just like you can’t be upset about finishing second instead of first and let it ruin the next three tournaments.”
So, Angler of the Year would be the ultimate accomplishment.
Then for a little icing on the cake…
“I’d really like to win Angler of the Year and the Classic in the same year,” he said, laughing. “That would be as good as it gets.”