There’s no better place for me to be right now than in first place in the Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year standings.
Heading into the final two events of the season, I have a 10-point lead on Brent Ehrler and a 14-point lead on Jacob Wheeler. Those are two guys who I expect to perform pretty well at Lake Champlain and Lake St. Clair, so it’s really going to be up to me to continue fishing the way I’m capable of fishing.
I’ve had a great year this year, and that’s even before we talk about an AOY title. Those wins on Sam Rayburn and the Harris Chain really set me up for a career year, now it’s just about finishing it off the right way.
The blueprint I’ve laid out for myself for these final two events is pretty simple. I think I’m going to need to have one Top 10 finish and one Top 20. That obviously means I can’t miss a Knockout Round, which is alright with me because I haven’t missed a Knockout Round yet this season. Still, having a 10-point lead isn’t quite the cushion that it may seem.
The last time I was at Lake Champlain in 2017, I managed to grab a Top 10 finish. Back in 2014, I was able to finish in 12th, so I feel pretty good about my chances on that lake. It’s St. Clair that I’m a little uneasy about. I haven’t had a Top 10 or Top 20 finish there before, so I’m really going to have to figure something out when we go to Detroit to end the season.
If I give up five points to Ehrler or Wheeler on Lake Champlain, that leaves me with a small margin for error at St. Clair. I don’t expect either of them to finish worse than 20th over these final two events, so I have to continue fishing at a high level to keep them at an arm’s length.
No one remembers who finishes second in an AOY race except for the person who finishes in second. Trust me, I know from experience. I finished second to Jordan Lee last year and I was second to Brent Chapman in 2012. I’ve won a good amount over my career and a good amount over the last couple of years, but an AOY title is something that I’ve never gotten ahold of.
You see year in and year out what it takes to win an AOY, and I know I have what it takes to do that. I’ve worked hard all season long to get myself into a position to be successful, now it’s just about trusting myself and trusting in God.
As a fan of the sport, I’m excited about these final two events because not only are they great fisheries, but it’s going to be fun to go up against Brent and Jacob as we try to all attain the same goal. We all know only one of us will come out on top, but it’s still going to be quite a race to the finish.
I’m going to continue to do what I’ve always done: fish hard, limit mistakes and let God take care of the rest.