(Sep 16, 2016 - ONAMIA, MN.)
Another impressive day of hefty smallmouth astonished fans during the second round of the $1 million Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship at Minnesota’s famed Mille Lacs Lake.
On Thursday, the Top 50 qualifiers from the Bassmaster Elite Series produced 23 limits exceeding the 20-pound mark. Today’s field did one better by bringing 24 limits to the scales exceeding 20 pounds.
While that’s an impressive turnout yet again, the angler who catches the heaviest three-day limit of bass does not win this tournament; rather points are the key to victory this week.
Gerald Swindle of Guntersville, Ala., held onto his Angler of the Year lead after weighing 15 pounds, 13 ounces, which brought his two-day total to 25-6. He improved on Thursday’s performance, but Keith Combs of Huntington, Texas, is within 28 points of Swindle in the AOY race.
Things are heating up.
Swindle again struggled to locate and catch the quality smallmouth many of the other anglers are catching with consistency.
“I’ve tried to not think about Angler of the Year, and I’ve done well at focusing on catching fish until I got to Mille Lacs,” Swindle said. “Now I know what’s on the line, and I need to perform here. It’s frustrating to see how well all the guys are doing, while it takes everything I’ve got to catch a small limit. But that’s fishing, and I’m still mad at the fish.”
Every keeper bass the Alabama angler can catch this week will help push him closer to his second AOY title and the $100,000 first-place prize. The remaining $900,000 will be handed out to the other 49 pros based on where they finished in the points. However, Swindle was hoping it wouldn’t come down to the final day.
“My heart is in the game; my mind is in the game,” said, Swindle, who won his first AOY title in 2004. “But I’m a competitor, and it doesn’t matter if a title is on the line or not, I want to win this derby. Right now, I’m not far from dead last, but I’m keeping my eye on the prize, and if the right fish will bite on Sunday, I think I’ll have a good shot at taking home AOY — a title that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
Seth Feider of Bloomington, Minn., took the lead in the weight category from Japanese angler Takahiro Omori with a bag of smallmouth that weighed 24-11 — the day’s heaviest limit.
The 31-year-old angler’s two-day total was pushed to 50-3, which is less than 2 pounds ahead of Matt Herren of Ashville, Ala., who weighed 24-9 for a total of 48-7.
Feider did exactly what he said he would by catching almost 25 pounds again, and he is confident he can do even better in Sunday’s final round.
“On Sunday it’s supposed to be windy, and I like the wind — it helps the bite,” Feider said. “I’m having a lot of fun, and I’m excited that we’re able to showcase how good Mille Lacs really is.”
When asked if he can repeat his performance again on Sunday, he didn’t hesitate.
“I’ve actually been saving a few of my best spots for Sunday,” he said. “Several of the fish I weighed today came from new spots. But, I’ve narrowed down the pattern, and I’m excited to get back on the water to prove it.”
After today, the unofficial Top 5 in AOY points is as follows: Swindle still in control (905 points); Combs in second (877); Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., is in third (863); Randall Tharp of Port St. Joes, Fla., is in fourth (844); and Jacob Powroznik moved into fifth (835)
Rounding out the Top 5 in weight are Brent Ehrler of Newport Beach, Calif., is in third with 46-3; Hackney is in fourth with 45-15; and Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., in fifth with 45-10.
There will be no fishing on Saturday, as Bassmaster University will take place at Grand Casino Mille Lacs beginning at 11 a.m. Bassmaster fans will have an opportunity to visit sponsor exhibits, attend angler seminars and gather autographs from their favorite pros. The event is free and open to the public.
Competition will resume on Sunday with takeoff beginning at 6:40 a.m. CT from Eddy’s Resort in Onamia, Minn. The final weigh-in will take place at Grand Casino Mille Lacs at 3:45 p.m.
2016 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
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2016 Points Report
PROFESSIONAL ELITE SERIES
as of 16-Sep-2016
Angler Hometown Points Lbs-Oz
1 Gerald Swindle Guntersville, AL 905 294-11
2 Keith Combs Huntington, TX 877 290- 5
3 Greg Hackney Gonzales, LA 863 300- 0
4 Randall Tharp Port St. Joe, FL 844 285-13
5 Jacob Powroznik Port Haywood, VA 835 303- 1
6 Jordan Lee Grant, AL 827 300-14
7 Chris Zaldain Laughlin, NV 793 282- 7
8 Ott DeFoe Knoxville, TN 792 289- 7
9 Justin Lucas Guntersville, AL 789 294-12
10 Edwin Evers Talala, OK 777 289-15
11 Jason Christie Park Hill, OK 774 279- 1
12 Drew Benton Panama City, FL 771 279-11
13 Hank Cherry Jr Maiden, NC 765 278- 2
14 Michael Iaconelli Pittsgrove, NJ 763 283- 6
15 Alton Jones Lorena, TX 762 275- 9
16 Bobby Lane Jr. Lakeland, FL 760 286- 7
17 Takahiro Omori Emory, TX 759 274-14
18 Steve Kennedy Auburn, AL 755 285- 0
19 Brandon Palaniuk Rathdrum, ID 750 287- 0
20 Dean Rojas Lake Havasu City, AZ 748 271-13
21 Matt Herren Ashville, AL 743 278- 8
22 Aaron Martens Leeds, AL 730 278-11
23 Brett Hite Phoenix, AZ 729 284-10
24 James Elam Tulsa, OK 725 275- 4
25 Bill Lowen Brookville, IN 714 278- 1
26 Jared Lintner Arroyo Grande, CA 714 255-10
27 Skeet Reese Auburn, CA 698 264- 4
28 Todd Faircloth Jasper, TX 695 259-11
29 Bradley Roy Lancaster, KY 688 277-13
30 Jason Williamson Wagener, SC 684 274- 6
31 Casey Ashley Donalds, SC 684 268- 5
32 Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, MI 680 277-11
33 Shaw Grigsby Jr. Gainesville, FL 680 267- 0
34 Dave Lefebre Erie, PA 671 275-10
35 Brent Ehrler Newport Beach, CA 670 285-15
36 Clifford Pirch Payson, AZ 663 274-10
37 Boyd Duckett Guntersville, AL 660 266- 1
38 Ish Monroe Hughson, CA 658 265- 2
39 Keith Poche Pike Road, AL 654 268-13
40 Andy Montgomery Blacksburg, SC 650 265-15
41 Fred Roumbanis London, AR 647 255-14
42 Tommy Biffle Wagoner, OK 645 262- 4
43 Chris Lane Guntersville, AL 642 278- 8
44 Randy Howell Guntersville, AL 642 253-
45 Adrian Avena Vineland, NJ 639 253-1
46 Seth Feider Bloomington, MN 637 265-10
47 Stephen Browning Hot Springs, AR 631 262- 3
48 Gary Klein Weatherford, TX 627 264- 2
49 Cliff Pace Petal, MS 627 251- 2
50 Kelly Jordon Flint, TX 600 252- 7