Reese increases AOY lead


 WETUMPKA, Ala. — Things weren't exactly looking good for Skeet Reese on Saturday. His performance after the first day of the Berkley Powerbait Trophy Chase wasn't up to his lofty standards, and after three days of fishing on Lake Jordan, he had yet to develop a go-to pattern.

 Sunday was a different story for the 2009 Bassmaster Classic champ. Reese landed 15 pounds, 3 ounces, pushing him into second place after the first leg of Toyota Trucks Championship Week. And most important, the Auburn, Calif., pro took a 16-point advantage in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings, a lead he will carry into the final Postseason event, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, set for Sept. 17-18 on the Alabama River out of Montgomery.

 Reese built his AOY points total to 249. In second in the AOY race is four-time AOY champion Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., with 233 points. The winner of the Lake Jordan event, Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J., moved from 11th to third in the AOY standings with 225 points and positioned himself for a slim but realistic shot at overtaking Reese.

 "This is way better than I anticipated after Saturday," said Reese, who has four BASS wins. "I caught them early which took some of the pressure off. I'm stoked to be in this position. All you can ask for is a chance."

 Fishing fans can catch all of the on-the-water action from Toyota Trucks Championship Week on The Bassmasters, which will air for three hours on Sunday, Sept. 27, from 4-7 p.m. ET.

 Reese's performance Sunday was a microcosm of his 2009 Bassmaster Elite Series season. He started hot Sunday and ended with a bang, boating a near 4-pounder in the final hour. Reese's 2009 Elite season started in style with a Bassmaster Classic victory; if Reese can hold on next week, he would culminate his season with bookend championships.

 With that, he would become only the second angler in BASS history (Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark.) to claim a Bassmaster Classic and Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in the same season.

 Reese, who was the 2007 AOY, worked both shallow and deep patterns Sunday. He entered the Postseason one point behind VanDam, but made up ground quickly. He now has his attention trained on the Alabama River.

 "It's been a while since most of us have been there," Reese said. "It should present new conditions. I'm not going to focus on what the other guys will be doing. I can only take care of myself and, thankfully, this will be my title to lose."

 VanDam slipped to second in the AOY race with a disappointing sixth-place showing at the Jordan event.

 Perhaps Iaconelli is carrying the strongest momentum heading into the final event and poses the biggest obstacle for Reese. The win earned Iaconelli 50 points. He entered the event with little hope of owning the AOY title, but Iaconelli's known for performing well when a lot is on the line.

 "Coming in here I knew, theoretically, I could win the AOY," said Iaconelli, who finished second to Reese at the '09 Classic. "Still, with this caliber of anglers, I thought the door wouldn't open. But I have made a career of not giving up and I'm certainly not going to do that now. I guess you never know."

 Fourth in the AOY standings is Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., with 220 points. In fifth is Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., with 216 points. can be found here.