UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Cumberland

A New Outlook on AOY

A New Outlook on AOY
Ron Nelson

As the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit season looks to start back up in June on Lake Chickamauga, there are some new factors to consider in the Angler of the Year race.  

Of course, the recent expansion to the Pro Circuit with the addition of the “Super Tournaments” where Major League Fishing (MLF) pros will join the Pro Circuit field for the final three events is an exciting one, no doubt. But, MLF anglers will not be competing for points, so it’s the original Pro Circuit field that will be vying for the Angler of the Year award.

Obviously, changes to the event locations and times of year will shape how the tournaments themselves unfold, but more importantly it could have an impact on how the AOY race shakes out. So, we decided to dive back into the standings and see who at the top could stay strong and who may slip in the final three events.

 

Ron Nelson

Nelson still in charge

After three Pro Circuit events, Ron Nelson sits strongly atop the AOY standings at the moment with 585 points – 29 points ahead of second-place Matt Becker. Never finishing below 11th place this year, Nelson is in the midst of a stellar sophomore season.  

Nelson is an absolute hammer in the spring of the year thanks in large part to his sight-fishing prowess, which nearly earned him the win on Lake Martin back in March. Last year on Chick in the FLW Tour event in May he also made a run at the win thanks to some heavy lifting in the sight-fishing department. But this time around to Chick may not be as kind.

With the event being held at the end of June it is most certainly going to be an offshore shootout and truth be told, we haven’t seen Nelson in a solely offshore Tennessee River tournament yet in his career – whether it be on Tour or in the Toyota Series. That being said, Nelson did catch some of his fish offshore on Chick last year when he finished third in the Tour event. He also caught his fish offshore on Rayburn this year en route to his fifth-place finish. Still, the jury is still out on how he’ll fare when the entire field is searching for offshore schools. Nevertheless, Nelson is ridiculously fishy by nature – maybe even Bryan Thrift level, well, close anyhow – and it may be a safe bet that he still catches them in this event, or catches them good enough to survive for the final two events. Call it a hunch, but look for Nelson to escape Chickamauga with a top 30 or better finish, which would be ridiculously impressive considering the talent in the field and his lack of experience on the Tennessee River system in the summer.

The Mississippi River will be the next test, and again, Nelson doesn’t have the experience there, but he does fare well on rivers. The fact he’ll be able to wind a swimbait, swim a jig or toss a frog plays in his favor. Plus, anytime there are smallmouths and largemouths to be caught, Nelson is on full display. So expect the Michigan pro to find his groove and keep sailing towards the Detroit River where he will really get to showcase his talents.

Ending the season on the Detroit River will without question play to the hand of Nelson. Sure, there are some smallmouth hammers behind him, but Nelson will be in his element come early August on the smallmouth mecca. He has a pile of knowledge and experience on the Great Lakes and St. Clair and it honestly wouldn’t be a surprise to see him compete for the win in this one.

The verdict on Nelson is that while he may not be a lock for AOY, he certainly has the right skill set and talent to make it happen in 2020.

 

Matt Becker

Becker down, not out

After making the top-30 cut at every event this year ­– including his fourth-place finish on Martin – Matt Becker is also having a stout year. He’s improved his AOY finish every season on Tour and is now in a good place to best his finish from last season of 14th. The only issue for Becker is that summertime on the Tennessee River has proved to be a bit of sticking point for him in his career.

Last year on Chickamauga, though it wasn’t totally an offshore deal, Becker posted a 132nd showing. The year prior on Kentucky Lake he finished 102nd. On paper, things may not look great for Becker at the next stop and it’ll certainly be his biggest challenge of the year. However, Becker is fishing the Toyota Series event on Pickwick, and regardless of his finish in that he’ll have gained another layer of Tennessee River knowledge. So, don’t count him out at Chick yet.

Like Nelson, Becker doesn’t boast much of any Mississippi River experience, so it could be another test for the 27-year-old pro.

His light at the end of the tunnel and biggest opportunity to make up ground will come on the Detroit River in August. Having the event moved later in the year may have actually helped Becker’s cause since he is one of the few Lake Erie specialists in the field, and Erie can really show out that time of year.

But without question the next event, maybe two, will really set the pace for Becker and set the tone for how much of that Great Lakes experience he’ll have to call on to have a shot at his first AOY title.

 

Spencer Shuffield

The rest of the pack

Behind Becker and Nelson, the rest of the top 10 features some serious talent. Interestingly, the majority of them could be considered shallow-water specialists, which could both help and hurt them in the final three events. It’s also worth noting that the majority of the 10 also lack major professional experience, so it’ll be worth watching to see how they handle the pressure in the home stretch.  

Jon Canada is currently in third with 552 points and is also on a tear in his sophomore season. Last year was tough on Canada – both on and off the water – but this year he’s turned things around. Generally speaking, Canada is at his best up shallow and that should suit him well on the Mississippi River, but Chickamauga and the Detroit River could be too much of a battle to overcome, especially being sandwiched between John Cox, Nelson and Becker.

Of course, John Cox would be on the watch list to move up the ranks if his schedule wasn’t such a mystery. It’s likely that he’ll miss the Mississippi River event to fish the B.A.S.S. Elite Series event on Champlain at the same time, so his ability to fish all the events is very much in question. He’s currently in fourth with 539 points, and obviously impossible to count out, but it’s an uphill battle.  

Down the list, Dylan Hays, Grae Buck, Jacob Wall, Spencer Shuffield, Jared McMillan and Greg Bohannan round out the top 10. While most of these guys are likely to have decent events to finish the year, it’s hard to pick one out that will go on a tear to make a run at AOY.

Hays has shown he can catch brown fish and is well versed for shallow largemouth, but is a little love-hate when it comes to the Tennessee River. Buck, Wall and J-Mac would also fall into that category.

Shuffield, on the other hand, would be one to keep an eye out to make a big move from his eighth-place seat. He’s done well on Tennessee River fisheries in the summer and caught them on the Detroit River before. His only knock is lack of experience on the Mississippi River, but his shallow, power-fishing strength should be enough to help lead him to a good finish. If we were still going to Dardanelle he’d have one event with a huge home field advantage, but even so, he’s one to watch.

The final three events will be different enough that we will likely see plenty of fireworks in terms of who will falter and who will be versatile enough to earn the AOY crown. At this point it’s hard to bet against Nelson keeping his pace and making a run, but there is some serious talent both inside and outside the top 10 to keep an eye out for. If one of these guys heats up and Nelson lets off the gas, it could be a heck of a race to the finish.

Tags: kyle-wood  article 

Robinson Readies for Cumberland

Robinson Readies for Cumberland

After winning Strike King Angler of the Year in the Toyota Series Central Division, Ricky Robinson is now looking to see what kind of splash he can make at the Toyota Series Championship this week on Lake Cumberland. READ MORE »

2020 Toyota Series Championship Roster

2020 Toyota Series Championship Roster

With the elongated 2020 season finally drawing to a close, the Toyota Series Championship is upon us. This year, the Toyota Series Championship field is made up of the top 25 pros and co-anglers from each division, plus top finishers from the Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship, The Bass Federation, the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American and FLW’s international ranks. READ MORE »

Who’s Ready to Fish the Bass Pro Tour?

Who’s Ready to Fish the Bass Pro Tour?

For the Bass Pro Tour opener, the top four anglers based on the 2020 Pro Circuit AOY standings will get a chance to compete for $100,000, meaning Ron Nelson, Spencer Shuffield, Grae Buck and Matt Becker will head to Texas. READ MORE »

Varkevisser, Eastman Win 2020 FLW South Africa Championship

Varkevisser, Eastman Win 2020 FLW South Africa Championship

After three days of fishing on Witbank Dam, Justy Varkevisser and Reed Eastman of Team Beli VC took home the 2020 FLW South Africa Championship title with a total weight of 19.56kg (43.12 pounds). Taking place Nov. 19-21, Eastman and Varkevisser won over $1,300 for their efforts. READ MORE »

Phil Marks Passes at Age 55

Phil Marks Passes at Age 55

FLW is saddened to report that Phil Marks, Senior Vice President of Sales for Strike King and tournament angler, passed away at the age of 55 following a long battle with cancer. READ MORE »

 Cox Commits to MLF

 Cox Commits to MLF

The announcement of the 2021 MLF Bass Pro Tour roster finally makes it official: John Cox will fish the Bass Pro Tour and the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. READ MORE »

2021 Bass Pro Tour Roster

2021 Bass Pro Tour Roster

Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the 2021 Bass Pro Tour angler roster. The roster includes 75 returning anglers, headlined by 2020 Angler of the Year (AOY), Heavy Hitters winner and General Tire World Champion Jordan Lee, five-time MLF event winner Jacob Wheeler, Ott DeFoe, Edwin Evers, and the man considered by many to be the greatest professional angler of all-time, Kevin VanDam. READ MORE »

College Open Headed to Chick

College Open Headed to Chick

Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today that Dayton, Tennessee will host the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open on March 30-31 at Lake Chickamauga. The famed big-bass fishery has produced some of the best trophy bass fishing opportunities in the country and has served as a highly competitive playing field for many major bass tournaments over the years.   READ MORE »

16 Spots Filled For Toyota Series Championship

16 Spots Filled For Toyota Series Championship

With the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine All-American presented by TINCUP wrapped up, the field for the Toyota Series Championship happening this December on Lake Cumberland can now take shape. While the full roster will be released soon, the highest-finishing boater and co-angler from each of six Regional Championships, the Wild Card and The Bass Federation (TBF) National Championship at the All-American now advance to Cumberland next month for a shot at winning $235,000 and $33,500, respectively. READ MORE »

All-American Midday Update – Day 3

All-American Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine All-American presented by TINCUP is shaping up to be a nail-biter. READ MORE »

All-American Midday Update – Day 2

All-American Midday Update – Day 2

Like day one, day two of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine All-American presented by TINCUP has thrown a variety at the anglers. The day started with rain, which was heavy overnight, and tapered off after takeoff. Then, cloudy and slick conditions set in. Now, it’s turned into a perfect day, with puffy clouds, lots of sun and a nice breeze. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Table Rock

Top 10 Patterns from Table Rock

Fall can be a tough time to fish most places in the country, and for the final Toyota Series Plains Division event of the season on Table Rock Lake, that certainly was the case. A cold front passed through the week prior, bringing cool rain that lowered water temperatures and raised the lake. Then, come tournament time, the forecast was more like spring than fall with plenty of sun and highs in the 70s. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Table Rock

Top 10 Baits from Table Rock

Though the final Toyota Series Plains Division event of the season on Table Rock wasn’t the usual fall bite you may expect to see in the Ozarks, the top 10 pros stuck to their strengths and employed everything from ice fishing jigs to topwaters to catch their fish. READ MORE »

All-American Midday Update – Day 1

All-American Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine All-American presented by TINCUP hasn’t been quite as wet as anticipated, but it’s still offered far from ideal conditions for offshore fishing on Hartwell. So far this morning, nobody has distanced themselves, but there’s still plenty of time before weigh-in. READ MORE »

Huff All the Way on Table Rock

Huff All the Way on Table Rock

Cody Huff didn’t even plan on fishing the final Toyota Series Plains Division event on Table Rock, but being it’s only on 45 minutes from his house and he already filled a deer tag he figured why not. That decision turned out to be the right one as he’d take the lead on day one with 16 pounds, 15 ounces and never look back. READ MORE »

Caldwell Tops Co-anglers on Table Rock

Caldwell Tops Co-anglers on Table Rock

Living in nearby Springfield, Mo., Adam Caldwell is more than familiar with Table Rock Lake. With tough fishing for the Toyota Series Plains Division finale, local knowledge proved to be worth its weight in gold as Caldwell utilized his experience targeting suspended bass to catch 23 pounds, 8 ounces over three days to tow home a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro boat. READ MORE »

Table Rock Midday Update – Day 3

Table Rock Midday Update – Day 3

The final round of competition for the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Table Rock Lake has been yet another beautiful early November day with highs in the 70s, a light wind and clear skies. READ MORE »

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 3

Lake Seminole Midday Update – Day 3

After two spectacular sunny days at the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Seminole, the final day brought heavy low clouds and an east wind. The cloudy weather seemed to be exactly what Dillon McMillan needed to prolong his jerkbait bite in the Spring Creek channel. READ MORE »

Huff Cruising on Table Rock

Huff Cruising on Table Rock

After two days on Table Rock Lake for the final Toyota Series Plains Division event of the season, Cody Huff is in command, backing up his Thursday weight of 16 pounds, 15 ounces with a solid 13-15 for a 30-14 total overall. READ MORE »

Table Rock Midday Update – Day 2

Table Rock Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Plains Division finale on Table Rock Lake has been essentially a carbon copy of day one, well, as far as weather goes. Bluebird skies, light wind and temperatures hovering in the mid 70s once again made for pleasant conditions on the water, though it hasn’t done anything to help the fishing. READ MORE »