Who's on the Bubble for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE - Major League Fishing
Who’s on the Bubble for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE
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Who’s on the Bubble for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE

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July 24, 2022 • Jody White • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

When the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Fuel Me heads to Lake Champlain for the final event of the season, a solid chunk of the field will be looking just a little bit past it. With the Tackle Warehouse TITLE Presented by Mercury looming as soon as the regular season ends, the pros around the cut line need to maintain or move up to make the championship. 

In 2021, the top 50 pros in the standings headed to the TITLE, as both 2020 Angler of the Year Ron Nelson and 2020 TITLE champ Rusty Salewske were inside the top 48. This year, with last year’s champ Jimmy Washam having a tough season, the top 49 in the standings will head up to the St. Lawrence River. In 2021, Jacopo Gallelli was 49th in the standings with an even 800 points, and Jon Canada was the last man in with 798 points. This year, Martin Villa is sitting in 49th with 692 points, which means he’d need to finish 93rd or better at Champlain to pick up the requisite 108 points for 800 and a theoretical qualification. 

Still, just getting to 800 points may not do it this year. Though the Angler of the Year leaders are running a little behind the torrid pace that Michael Neal and Skeet Reese set in 2021, the pros in the middle of the standings are running a slightly better average. While Gallelli averaged 133.3 points per event last year, Villa is currently averaging 138 points per event. To get below Gallelli’s ’21 average, you have to drop down to 57th and 58th in the standings to find Canada and Chase Serafin with 662 points apiece and a 132.4 average. 

So, as you scan the standings, know that the contenders are setting a pretty strong pace. 

How Much Can You Move Up? 

Before even thinking about who is in or out at the TITLE, it’s worth a little dive into how much the standings can fluctuate. Double-digit moves in the standings aren’t as impossible as you might imagine, but it takes a great finish. At the James River, 45 pros moved up 10 places or more in the standings, and 35 moved up less than 10 places. Of course, as the points continue to add up, it gets harder to climb the mountain, but there are still moves to be made. 

At the James, Villa finished ninth and moved up 34 places. Kyle Weisenburger finished 16th and moved up 33 places. For Braxton Setzer and Cole Floyd, a Top-10 finish was worth a 29-place climb.   

Those moves put Setzer and Floyd into a pretty good position for the TITLE, but they put Weisenburger and Villa right into bubble territory. Here’s a rough look at how things are shaping up for the field around the line as the season wraps up. 

Casey Scanlon earned the win in 2019 at Champlain, and he basically needed every ounce to make the Forrest Wood Cup back them.

Above the Line 

The anglers in the standings running from about 40th to 47th have built a pretty solid points cushion going into the final event. Though not set in stone for the TITLE, Tom Monsoor (40th) and Alex Davis (41st) are both 19 points ahead of Villa in 49th and Blake Hall (47th) is 12 points ahead of Villa. 

All told, the pros sitting 40th to 47th are Monsoor, Alex Davis, Casey ScanlonBrett HiteDavid WalkerMike McClellandDarrell Davis and Hall. A solid finish at Champlain should keep any one of them in the running for the TITLE, but that’s not a lock for many of the group. Between them, Walker, both Davis’s, McClelland, Monsoor and Hite all did quite poorly the last time they competed on Champlain. While the lake can play to the strengths of the anglers in the group, recent history suggests they’ve got a bit of an uphill battle despite their position in the points. 

Two pros who buck the trend are Hall and Scanlon. Hall has basically no experience on Champlain to draw from, but Scanlon was the winner of the 2019 FLW Tour event on Champlain, when he ran to Ticonderoga with a vibrating jig in hand and waylaid largemouth and averaged more than 19 pounds a day. 

Finishing 37th at the James moved Joey Cifuentes into TITLE contention.

Too Close for Comfort 

There are a mere 13 points between Phillip Dutra (48th) right above the line and Jared McMillan (52nd) right below the line for TITLE advancement. Between them, Villa is in 49th just on the good side, with Dylan Hays and Joey Cifuentes right below him. Dutra has taken the summer to learn about smallmouth, but Champlain will be the Western rookie’s first northern tournament. Outside of Dutra, the rest of the crew all has some success up north, and they ought to be able to hold steady at Champlain. That’s not to say they’ll all move up, but McMillan finished 45th at Champlain in 2019, and Cifuentes has been on fire up north lately. 

Miles Howe is in the hunt for his first TITLE appearance.

In Striking Range

Weisenburger, Miles HoweJimmy Neece Jr. and Jason Vance all sit with 678 or 674 points apiece, and a finish of 75th or better would get them the 126 points needed hit the hypothetical cut line at 800 points. A higher finish, say a Top 50, would probably put any of the group in the TITLE without too much sweating at weigh-in. 

The only problem with one of chasers making a run up the leaderboard is their history on Champlain. Between them, the pros have seen very little of Champlain and also had a lack of success on the big northern lake. Still, Neece and Howe at least came up to pre-practice, and practice can pay dividends in the summertime on Champlain. 

One thing is for sure at Champlain, if an angler is close in the points they’re going to want a fully-charged phone at weigh-in. After all, weights will be tight, and the results aren’t gonna check themselves.