Morrison builds massive lead on Sam Rayburn; Castledine clinches fifth AOY title - Major League Fishing

Morrison builds massive lead on Sam Rayburn; Castledine clinches fifth AOY title

Image for Morrison builds massive lead on Sam Rayburn; Castledine clinches fifth AOY title
Alec Morrison will look to add a win at the Toyota Series Championship to his already stellar 2023 season. Photo by Kory Savage. Angler: Alec Morrison.
May 19, 2023 • Mason Prince • Toyota Series

BROOKELAND, Texas – It’s the Alec Morrison show and everyone else is just buying tickets at this point. The New York angler dropped another massive bag to increase his lead on Day 2 of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Morrison added a 29-pound, 9-ounce bag on Friday, giving him 57-2 for the event and a 22-7 lead over second-place Tater Reynolds heading into the final day.

Meanwhile, Todd Castledine finished in 26th place with 26-4 and secured the fifth Southwestern Division Angler of the Year title of his career.

Morrison making it look easy

If there was any doubt that yesterday was a fluke, Morrison silenced it and then some after posting a near-30-pound bag. The 23-year-old angler rode a morning wave to a massive lead doing exactly the same thing that he did yesterday – ‘scoping brush piles in deeper water.

“I had a lot of ideas on how today could have gone,” Morrison said. “I went back to the stuff I found yesterday, but these fish seem to move around to different brush piles a lot. I caught four big ones off the bat this morning and that really got me going in the right direction.”

Offshore skills honed with northern smallmouth and a winter of guiding in Florida have served Alec Morrison well in Texas. Photo by Kory Savage

There were only two other bags weighed over 20 pounds on Friday, and Morrison had the closest one beat by nearly 8 pounds. Morrison has plenty of confidence heading into the final day, but he will definitely have to play a little defense in the morning so he can secure his oh-so-special spots.

“It kind of died after my morning bite and I didn’t want to stay on those brush pile fish and educate them because there were more there,” Morrison said. “I wasn’t able to leave because I had people around me watching and I was afraid they were going to slide in. I may have beat up on them too much, but I’m hoping they are still there tomorrow.”

He’s one day away from the first win of his young career. Through a trembling voice mixed with excitement and emotion, Morrison expressed what this week has meant to him and his professional bass fishing journey.

“A win here would mean absolutely everything to me,” Morrison said. “I’ve done nothing but fish since I was 10 years old, and I’ve wanted nothing but this my entire life. I work every day for this feeling and I’m still trying to soak it all in.”

Todd Castledine came into the event looking to make history and he got the job done. Photo by Kory Savage

Castledine locks up fifth AOY title

While he was able to make the Top-25 cut on Friday, Castledine opted to forego his last day of fishing because the ultimate prize had already been accomplished. The Nacogdoches, Texas, angler is the Southwestern Division Angler of the Year for the fifth time in his career.

“This one means everything to me, because no one even has four,” Castledine said. “I want to make the mark so hard to reach, I’m not going to lie. I might not ever get another chance like this, so it’s important to capitalize when you can.”

Castledine technically ended his day in 25th place, inside the Top 25 cut. However, he opted to forego his final day of fishing and instead head home to spend time with his family for about the first time all spring. He earned a 26th-place check, another AOY title, and now he heads home to be a supportive father to a supportive family.

“I haven’t been able to see my kids play sports this entire spring because I’ve been fishing every weekend,” Castledine admitted. “Now, with AOY wrapped up, I decided this would be a perfect time to go home, spend some time with my family and let someone else have a shot at it.”

Easley jumps into Strike King co-angler lead

William Easley of Pollok, Texas, is the new leader on the Strike King co-angler side with a two-day total of 24-6. Easley managed to catch a limit of 16-14 on Friday to head into the final day with a 1-4 lead over Bryan Hester.

“I got a limit early in the day on a drop-shot and then picked up a crankbait later on in the day,” Easley said. “I had a 6-pounder, a 5-pounder and a 4-pounder that really helped me today. I caught them all off of flooded timber.”

Day 1 leader Mark Sloan struggled on Friday, only managing three bass for 6-1 to drop into third place. He sits 3-1 behind Easley heading into the final day.

Top 10 pros

1. Alec Morrison – 57 – 2 (10)         

2. Tater Reynolds – 34 – 11 (10)       

3. Cody Huff – 34 – 9 (10)

4. Jeff Reynolds – 34 – 8 (10)          

5. Jaden Parrish – 34 – 7 (10) 

6. Kris Wilson – 31 – 14 (10) 

7. Keith Combs – 31 – 12 (10)           

8. Brett Preuett – 31 – 6 (10)

9. Matt Reed – 30 – 15 (10)   

10. Marshall Hughes – 30 – 10 (10)   

Complete results

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