Decisions, decision, decisions. They are such a huge part of tournament fishing, bringing success or failure.
Scott Canterbury can relate. His choices have put him in position to win the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, the thought of which choked up the 43-year-old pro from Odenville, Ala.
“Yeah,” he said, pausing before gaining his composure. “There is a lot of fishing left though, but it would be special, for sure. It’d be great. We’ve got to concentrate on catching them every day right now because we’ve got two more tournaments.
“I survived the New York swing. I went up there 11 points behind and come out with the lead. If someone told me I could have a third and 11th before I left, I’d be tickled to death with it. But there’s lot of fishing left to do. We still have to go to Oklahoma then we got an AOY Championship. We’ve got to keep it going.”
Making almost all the right decisions has Canterbury leading the AOY standings by 19 points. He’s hung around the top spots all season by contending in several events and being mostly consistent. With a third-place finish on the St. Lawrence, he wrested the lead from Drew Cook.
Although he felt like he left a few points on the table at Cayuga, the significance of the huge opportunity wasn’t lost on him. Bassmaster writer Steve Wright asked Canterbury about choking up on stage when emcee Dave Mercer asked the former construction worker about his AOY outlook and then again moments later off stage during an interview after Day 2 at Cayuga.
“It’s a little different for me than a lot of guys,” he said, once again becoming verklempt. “I work for a living and give up everything. This is my life, and it’s pretty special to me.”
The first-year Elite spent the past 11 years on the FLW Tour, where he earned $1.3 million and two tournament titles among 42 top 10s. He’s come close in B.A.S.S. with two runner-up finishes, including a 9-ounce defeat on Winyah Bay this year. Canterbury sort of stunned himself when his 11 pounds, 15 ounces on Day 1 there had him in ninth, but a move put him in the hunt.
“I didn’t know what 12 was going to do, but it was a lot better than I thought it was going to do. I went back the second day and struggled. I didn’t catch but 7 pounds,” he said. “I changed it up on Day 3 and went up the river a little further and caught some bigger ones. That turned the whole lot around.”
His 15-4 limit jumped him from 26th back into the top 10, then his Championship Sunday big bag of 16-2 left him just shy of supplanting winner Stetson Blaylock.
“There’s been two or three times this year that’s really changed the outcome,” Canterbury said, also noting a switch in tactics on the St. Johns River saw him climb from 55th to take ninth. “I got one bite during practice in the area that I ended up catching 26 pounds the second day and 30 pounds the third day.
“It’s weird, I look at the Texas tournament and that aggravates me. I sort of bombed that tournament (49th) by trying to force things that wasn’t happening. It really hurt me. But everything else has worked out so far, so good.”
Canterbury wasn’t totally pleased with 22nd at Guntersville Lake, what with roommate Matt Arey sharing spots and being on the fish to win. He also sites his other 11th-place finish at Lake Lanier as a missed opportunity to gain a few more points. At Lanier, he broke off a fish on the third day and missed the cut by 2 ounces. That was long before a lost fish at Cayuga on Day 3 left him 7 ounces short of his fourth top 10.