After my 31st-place finish at Lake St. Clair, I’m back on top of the Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year race — but only by one point. Realistically, that means Kyle Welcher and I are tied, so I don’t feel like I have much of an advantage.
Honestly, going into the Northern Swing in second place in the points, my goal was to average a 20th-place finish in the last three events. I figured that should be enough, but if it’s not, I won’t feel like I left anything on the table.
That 31st at St. Clair was a little below what I wanted to average, so to make up for that, I need to finish ninth or 10th in one of the next two events. Obviously, that adds some pressure, but not as much at Lake Champlain. After that event, I’ll know what I need, so the St. Lawrence is my least confident one.
But on the other hand, it’s kind of nice because after Champlain, I’ll go into the St. Lawrence knowing what I need to do. If I do poorly at Champlain, then I know I’ll need to win or land a Top 10 at the St. Lawrence. If I do well at Champlain, then we have the points lead, and I’ll just need to get a check.
In the big picture of this season, making the Top 50 cut at St. Clair was important. A 31st-place finish is not impressive by any means, but that allowed me to get the momentum back.
It’s not like I started the Northern Swing trying to get out of a hole. True, it wasn’t that great of a finish, but the way the points laid out and the way other people close to the top placed, it actually was a good finish.
But that’s the thing with this points race; you have no idea what could happen. Welcher (currently second in AOY points) could win the next two, Tyler Rivet could win the next two and even if I finish 20th in the next two events, it still wouldn’t matter.
If you look back at the points over the past several years, it’s usually around a 20th average to win. I won’t be disappointed if I average 20th, but if I get beat with that average, then it is what it is.
Looking back at the Sabine, it was a little frustrating to finish 92nd, but I’m not as mad about that one as it might seem like I’d be. I had a good plan for low tide, but Mother Nature had a different idea. The tide never went out. So I didn’t make any catastrophic mistakes, things just didn’t work out.
All that aside, I’m looking forward to the next Elite event because Champlain is one of my favorite lakes in the country. I usually do target largemouth, but what I’ve lacked in the past is a good mix of smallmouth. I’ve improved a lot on my forward-facing sonar abilities, so I feel more confident this year on Champlain.
I feel like to land a Top 10 or win on Champlain, you’ll need to have a good bag of smallmouth. I’m as ready as I’ve ever been. So, if it all goes well, I’ll head into that final event at the St. Lawrence leading the AOY race.