UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - James River

AOY Update: Lake Lanier

AOY Update: Lake Lanier
Jared McMillan

With three tournaments in the books, and finally one outside of Florida, the Pennzoil Marine Angler of the Year race is really starting to take form.

Fishing in his first full-year on the FLW Tour, Jared McMillan is on a roll, making his third top 30 cut in a row to sit atop the AOY standings. Charging behind him is a mix of both new and familiar faces waiting for their shot to climb the standings.

With four events still remaining, plenty can change in a hurry. With that in mind, here’s a look at how the AOY race breaks down thus far.

Complete AOY standings

 

1. Jared McMillan – Belle Glade, Fla. – 570 points

If you bet that both of the McMillans would be in the top five of the AOY standings after Florida, it would have made sense. If you would have guessed that the younger brother, Jared, would be leading the points race after Lanier, then you’re pretty special.

It wasn’t much of surprise to see J-Mac finish in the top 10 at Okeechobee and the Harris Chain, but Lake Lanier was a real test of his skills. Spotted bass and clear water are a far cry from his home state of Florida. Still, he stepped up to the challenge and utilized his electronics and spinning rods to finish the event in 20th.

Now that he’s shown he has more versatility than some may realize it wouldn’t be crazy to start thinking this momentum could continue to ride. Though, the rest of the schedule still doesn’t seem ideal for the young pro.

We’ve seen guys get on hot streaks before and ride them out through incredible seasons and right now things are rolling Jared’s way. Hopefully he’s comfortable with a spinning rod because Lanier definitely won’t be the last time he’ll have to bust them out this season.

 

2. David Williams – Maiden, N.C. – 544 points

Like McMillan, Williams has cashed checks in the first three events and his first top 10 of his Tour career was enough to inch him up the standings to second. We know that the Carolinas breed some very versatile anglers and Williams is proving that he comes from the same mold.

This is Williams' first FLW Tour season, yet he isn’t a rookie because he spent a few years on the B.A.S.S. Elite Series. He has a few T-H Marine BFL wins to his credit and finished 17th at the FLW Tour Invitational on Norris Lake in 2016, so he definitely knows how this game is played.

His strategy of sampling both largemouths and spots at Lanier may be a good preview to how he’ll approach the next few tournaments where multiple species will be fair game. Versatility will be a big factor for the rest of the season, and right now Williams is showing that he can do it all.

 

3. Cody Meyer – Auburn, Calif. – 529 points

Before Lanier it was beginning to look like Meyer was in prime shape to be in the running for his first AOY title and after a 6th-place showing he’s more than in position to make a run.

Out of the top five, Meyer has to be the favorite for the AOY. He’s qualified for the Forrest Wood Cup every year since 2009 and finished inside the top 15 in the points race each of the last seven years.

Florida has always been hit or miss for Meyer and the fact that he made a 30 cut on Okeechobee and cashed a check on Harris means that he’s on top of his game. The next two events on Cumberland and Lewis Smith are going to be the perfect window for him to make his run.

 

4. Jordan Osborne – Longview, Texas – 524 points

In his third year from the front of the boat, Osborne is off to his best start ever. His first two seasons saw him finish in the triple digits of the standings. Even worse, he only cashed one check along the way. This year, Osborn is out for vengeance as he’s cashed in every event, making the top 30 cut at Harris and a top 10 on Lanier.

It seems like he is fishing free and there’s no doubt it’s showing. Like a lot of the pros in the top of the AOY standings, Osborn has been showing off his versatility, which will come in handy for the final four derbies.

It’s unclear how he should fair in the coming weeks, but so far so good for the Texas pro.

 

5. Brandon McMillan – Clewiston, Fla. – 521 points

Not to be outdone by his younger brother, Big Mac is crushing it this season. He’s steadily been improving throughout his time as a Tour pro and this year is on pace to be his best yet. McMillan realized early on that not every bass could be caught on a flipping stick with braided line, and once he made adjustments points and checks have followed.

He’s had good finishes on both Smith and Cumberland before, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him cash checks in either of those. Kentucky Lake could fit right in his wheelhouse if there are shallow fish to be flipped from bushes. That just leaves St. Clair the question mark, but the fact that’s he is buddies with the Johnston brothers and Gussy might help him out on the smallmouth side.  

His best finish in the points to date was last season where he wound up 16th. No doubt he’s on pace to beat that this season.

 

Notable mentions

The rest of the top 10 works out with Zack Birge (516) and Mark Rose (515) right outside the top five. Tied with 510 points is last year’s AOY champ, Bryan Thrift and Anthony Gagliardi. Rounding out the top 10 is Jeff Gustafson with 507 points. An argument could be made for any of these guys to make a run at the title.

Chris Johnston led the points after Harris, but fell to 11th after a marginal Lanier event.

Scott Martin is holding down 15th with 467 points and could turn on in the next few tournaments, so keep an eye on him.

Matt Arey’s streak of Cup qualifications (he’s made it every year since 2011) could be in jeopardy if he doesn’t right the ship in the final four events as he currently idles in 95th.

Tags: kyle-wood  article  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

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