Making the Final Turn and Headed Down the Home Stretch
Submitted by: Full Limit Outdoor Media
With six tournaments down and two to go prior to the All-Star event, points will be even more critical at this week’s Evan William’s Bourbon Showdown on the St. Lawrence River. This New York fishery will host The BASS Elite Series anglers as they cast for cash and ultimately attempt to improve their standings in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year points race.
At this point in the season, the Strike King pro team is all over the board in terms of rankings. The ever-present contender, KVD, is perched in 3rd with only about 12 more fishing days left in this elite season. This position is one of relative commonality as he has approached the all-star or “post-season” events in the past waiting in the wings prior to making his move to the top of the standings to claim yet another AOY title. With his prowess on northern waters and proven track record, no one should bet against him pulling out another AOY.
Third year Elite Series pro Keith Combs is enjoying the view from 9th place in the AOY standings. It’s a position on which he’s had a firm grip due to a 2013 season where Combs has only missed the money in one event. Keith’s season highlights thus far include a win at Falcon worth a cool $100K and a trip to the 2014 Bassmaster’s Classic.
Sophomore Elite Series angler Chris Zaldain has enjoyed a consistent campaign this year as he currently sits in 11th place in the standings amidst a host of seasoned veterans. Zaldain’s season began with a finish that was one spot out of the money, but to date, that has been his only Elite event that hasn’t resulted in a check. Notably, he also has two top-ten finishes this season as well.
Another relentless competitor who once again finds himself in the top portion of the AOY standings is Strike King Angler Todd Faircloth. Currently in 12th place, Todd is in great shape heading into the home stretch. The current Bassmaster Classic champion, Cliff Pace, the 2013 Bass master rookie of the year (yet to be determined), the top 8 in AOY as well as 4 more anglers that will be voted in by fans will compete in this event. So, Todd is definitely not out of the running. A couple of good tournaments and he will likely find his way in by points or fan voting. The one thing Faircloth already has on his side is he is already qualified for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic via his win earlier this season at the Sabine River event.
Third year Elite series pro Jonathon VanDam has had another successful Elite Series effort. He is currently perched in 39th place in the points, which is well within striking distance of qualifying for his 2nd consecutive Bassmaster’s Classic. With 3 top 50 cuts, including a 9th at Bull Shoals, JVD approaches the northern leg of the Elite schedule with the confidence of a guy who has 2 prior BASS wins on the Great Lakes.
In the 50th place position in the Angler of the Year standings we find Shaw Grigsby. Shaw has actually experienced a pretty good Elite series season this year by cashing a check in four of the first six events. However, two less-than-desirable finishes at Falcon and West Point severely impacted his average. This Floridian has proven successful many times in the past on northern waters and the wily veteran is not one to count out.
Dennis Tietje Finds himself in 51st place with two regular season events left to go in the 2013 Elite Series season. Tietje has cut a check four times out of six this season as well. A couple of big tournaments would easily put Dennis in the running for qualifying for his first Bassmaster Classic.
Another Strike King Pro and perennial powerhouse, Greg Hackney, finds himself in 54th place with a couple of events left. Although prone to high finishes, Greg isn’t one to worry when it comes down to a couple tournaments. He has fished his way into the Classic in the nick of time in the past. He has won an Elite event before and could easily be considered due for another win.
The rest of the Strike King team has had their share of bumps and bruises this season. In a sport where your fate is decided one bite at a time, it’s no surprise for any angler to find himself playing catch up. Here are where the rest of our guys are sitting as they enter this week’s event:
- Mark Davis – 60th (1 top 10 and 3 top 50 cuts this season)
- Andy Montgomery – 67th (2 top 50 cuts this season)
- James Niggemeyer – 80th (2 top 50 cuts this season)
As the Elite tournament season resumes, it will remain in the northern waters where two species will come into play as well as array of techniques. Every cast matters from practice until the final boat is checked in. A win is a career changer, and in some cases, so could be a bomb. Stay tuned as we track the progress and results of the most elite team in pro fishing, the Strike King Pro Team.