It’s do or die for a number of anglers hoping to get into the season-ending Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship.
Yusuke Miyazaki is the first man out of the cut at 51st, just five points back of the line. Finishes in the 60s last month on the St. Lawrence and Cayuga Lake dropped him from 34th in the standings.
“Kind of a disappointment, the last two tournaments in New York,” he said. “I’m like a bubble guy now.”
Miyazaki would like to burst it with a high finish at the final regular-season event, the Cherokee Casino Bassmaster Elite at Lake Tenkiller, Sept. 19-22. That event will finalize the field of 50 who advance to the AOY Championship event on Lake St. Clair, Sept. 28-Oct. 1, where the AOY title will be decided as well as berths to the 50th Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville.
“Of course I want to go to the AOY Championship, but more I want to go to the Classic,” he said. “I really want to fish St. Clair, and I really want to fish Guntersville. There are two of my favorite places, so I don’t want to miss them.”
Being honest, Miyazaki said he hadn’t checked exactly how many points he needed to get inside the cut, but he’s got a good idea what he needs to do. After eight events, Miyazaki has 450 points, just five behind 50th-place Tyler Rivet.
“I understand I need to finish as high as I can, a top 20, maybe even top 30 and I can fish St. Clair,” he said. “If I can get inside the top 20, there’s more chance to fish the Classic.
“Of course, in this business, I can’t catch them every time, but I need to work as hard as I can.”
Originally set for Fort Gibson Lake in mid-May but rescheduled due to dangerously high water, the event was moved to Tenkiller Lake due to an issue with the dam. B.A.S.S. moved the venue last week to avoid the potential that officials might force the event to be cancelled.
It’s a slight curveball, but Tenkiller, with 12,900 acres and 130 miles of shoreline, is considered the premier smallmouth fishery in the state and reportedly has a greater overall population of bass.
“Everybody has the same conditions,” Miyazaki said. “I just have to try my best. With two and half days of practice, I hope to find some key things.
“If I can win, that’s really, really incredible, but my goal is a top 20. I think if I get the top 20, I can fish the AOY Championship and try for the Classic.”
Pressure to perform isn’t among his concerns now, but it might be.
“I’ve been fishing a long time so I don’t feel much pressure, but tournament time it may be happening,” he said. “Today I don’t have much pressure.”