If it seems like we’ve known Bradley Roy since he was a child, that’s because it’s mostly true: Roy started fishing the Opens when he was 18, and became the youngest Elite qualifier in history shortly thereafter. Now at the ripe old age of 27, Roy is the man to beat. Photo by Joel Shangle.
Brent Chapman finds himself in the thick of the AOY race for the first time since he won that award in 2012, and he can thank an off-season adjustment for this year’s success: “I simplified everything I do. It’s really made a difference in my day-to-day success.” BASS photo by Seigo Saito.
I think we can all stop feeling sorry for Casey Ashley when he complains (good-naturedly) about his dislike of smallmouth. Ashley is fresh off a second-place finish on Lake Oahe, and he finished in the Top 10 the last time the Elites fished the St. Lawrence River in 2017. That said, watch out for Ashley if he heads into the AOY Championship on Lake Chatuge within 15 points of the lead, he’ll be right at home in that Blue Ridge Mountains fishery. Photo by Joel Shangle.
Josh Bertrand has been the most consistent Elite pro in 2018: he’s finished in the Top 50 at every event, with two Top 10s. Expect Bertrand to make a surge inside the Top 6 at the St. Lawrence event: he’s finished 8th, 11th and 16th the three times the Elites have fished there. Photo by Joel Shangle.
Justin Lucas will be the first to admit that he entered the 2018 season with a chip on his shoulder after a dramatically sub-par season in 2017. Mission accomplished: Lucas is the hottest angler on the roster heading into the Chesapeake Bay event, notching three Top 12s in a row. Photo by Joel Shangle.
It seems impossible to get away from this guy: Ott DeFoe is having a great season by any measure, but he’s just a few ounces shy of an EXTRAORDINARY season. The Tennessee pro has finished 13th – just out of the Championship Sunday cut – three times this year. He’s been slightly inconsistent on the St. Lawrence, finishing third there in 2014, but then slipping to 78th and 99th in 2015 and 2017. Photo by Joel Shangle.
Is it just me, or is this the quietest Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year race in history? Here we are just two events away from the 2018 AOY Championship, and there’s nary a whisper of discussion about who might claim the coveted title.
Maybe blame the lack of names like “Palaniuk”, “VanDam”, “Reese”, “Christie” and “Iaconelli” in the race.
Not that the current Top 6 are a bunch of pallookas – Ott Defoe, Justin Lucas, Josh Bertrand, Casey Ashley, Brent Chapman and Bradley Roy have 14 wins, a Classic title, an AOY and two Rookie of the Year titles among them – but as a group, I’d say that they’re a little further off the radar than 2017’s final six (Palaniuk, Christie, Ashley, Jacob Wheeler, etc.).
Regardless, it’s a tight race, and I’d expect there to be some notable movement inside that Top 6 between the Chesapeake Bay and St. Lawrence River regular-season events, and the AOY finale at Lake Chatuge.