Nick Ratliff, fresh off qualifying for the 2019 Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods, wasn’t surprised he had a call coming from Lancaster, Ky., but he was taken aback that it was current Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year leader Bradley Roy.
“I was super overwhelmed,” said Ratliff, a senior from Campbellsville University who had just outdueled Nolan Minor in the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series Classic Bracket presented by Bass Pro Shops. “He probably thinks I’m rude. I was really quick with him.”
Roy was OK with the brevity of their chat.
“He did seem a little overwhelmed,” Roy said. “I’m sure he had a lot of other calls. I didn’t keep him on very long. I just called to tell him I was paying attention – I guess the whole world was.”
Yes, a Classic berth draws eyes, and the tight competition shown blow for blow on Bassmaster LIVE added to the intrigue. Many of the viewers, certainly those from The Bluegrass State, were pulling for the Campbellsville University senior, including Roy. The Kentuckians actually first crossed paths in 2014, when Ratliff and Elizabethtown teammate Ben Riggs won the Bradley Roy High School Open on Herrington Lake. Ratliff had a 4.66-pound big fish in his team’s 8.78 total.
“He was showing signs he could do really well early,” said Roy, winner of the 2004 Junior Bassmaster World Championship. “So, I thought it’d be cool to call him up.
“No. 1, he’s from Kentucky. He’s not too far down the road from me. I’ve also fished Milford Lake in a Federation Nation Championship. It was cool he kind of came full circle. I told him the next place I’d see him is at the Classic.”
Ratliff said it was great gesture that he appreciated.
“He called and congratulated me,” he said. “We talked about how awesome it was to be going to the Classic. I wished him good luck the rest of the year in the AOY, and that was really the extent of it.”
Roy considers shortened AOY chase
Roy was asked to size up his chances of winning the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title now that the Huk Bassmaster Elite at Upper Chesapeake Bay presented by Mossy Oak Fishing was cancelled.
“It is good, and it could possibly be bad,” Roy said. “It’s less tournaments I have to keep my lead, but it’s less room for error.”
He supposed he might have had a great event on the Chesapeake then a mediocre one this week in the Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence presented by Black Velvet, or vice versa.
“And it would have all kind of averaged out,” he said. “Now I basically have to have a great tournament here. It kind of eliminated a little room for error.”
Roy leads a runaway pack of four with 617 points. Justin Lucas is 10 points back in second while 2012 AOY winner Brent Chapman is third with 602 and Josh Bertrand fourth with 597. Ott DeFoe stands fifth, 63 points behind Roy.
The cancelled event did solidify that someone in the breakaway should be able to fend off the pack and win the AOY title at Lake Chatuge, Roy said. For now he’s concentrating on St. Lawrence, even though the title has come to the forefront of his mind.
“It is now that I’m on the road,” he said. “Honestly, I haven’t sat around and thought about it. The points are going to take care of themselves. It’s not something I’m going to dwell on, because I’m not going to let myself mentally get sucked into that.
“If I finish in the Top 12, I probably keep the lead. That’s the goal.”