The 2022 Bass Pro Tour regular season has reached the point in the schedule where the Angler of the Year race is taking shape. With three regular-season tournaments down and four events to go, some trends are emerging in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year standings, with what looks to be a spirited battle to the end for the $100,000 reward and AOY trophy.
A handful of anglers are poised to have tremendous bounce-back years, some rookies are making noise, and other anglers have a lot of work to do if they hope to salvage the season.
It’s a little hard to fathom that defending BPT AOY Jacob Wheeler is not leading Angler of the Year points after three consecutive Top 10s to start the Bass Pro Tour season. Wheeler also notched a Top 10 at REDCREST in a non-points event for good measure, but he still finds himself in second place in the standings to Jordan Lee.
However, 2020 AOY Jordan Lee has also been stellar this year and enters Bass Pro Tour Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four at Lake of the Ozarks with 226 points (two points above Wheeler’s 224), with two Top 10s of his own to go with a 12th-place showing at Stage Two on Lake Fork. Both Lee and Wheeler are fishing extraordinarily well, just as they’ve done since virtually the start of their careers, and there’s not a tournament fan alive who wouldn’t love to watch two of the biggest names in bass fishing compete for the top prize until the very last day of the season.
Alabama pro Randy Howell has had a tremendous start to the year after a disastrous 74th-place AOY finish in 2021. Howell finds himself ranked fifth for AOY with 194 points, thanks to some solid finishes and memorable catches.
Howell broke the MLF big-bass record at Stage One in February with a 10-11 on Caney Creek, and then broke it the next day. His 12-14 giant from Bussey Brake was one of the most impressive bass ever caught on camera, and Howell has ridden that momentum since, finishing 33rd at Lake Fork and 10th at Stage Three on Smith Lake.
Howell is in a great position to make 2023 REDCREST and is leading the 2023 Heavy Hitters race to date with 23-15 on just three qualifying fish. After missing out on both of those events this year, he’s in an excellent spot to make both of those events next season.
Judging by the current Bally Bet standings, several anglers will likely be fishing their first REDCREST next year. With the combination of anglers having great seasons and the addition of six rookies from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, the Bass Pro Tour championship event will almost certainly see some new faces.
Just about halfway through the season, the races for the Bally Bet AOY, REDCREST and General Tires Heavy Hitters are just getting interesting. Buckle up, it should be a thrilling race to the finish.