Mike Cork, dominated his local division in the American Fishing Tour, taking Angler of the Year in Division 48 for the second consecutive year. He also closed out the 2012 American Fishing Tour season presented by American Bass Anglers ranked second nationally. Mike Cork is now qualified for both the national Angler of the Year tournament on Lake Hudson and the National Championship Tournament at Grand Lake, both in Oklahoma. Quite a feat when you consider that ABA is a nationwide bass fishing tournament organization that has thousands of anglers from coast to coast.
Okay that’s the headlines.
I am excited about being second in the nation. While it’s not the Elite Series of bass fishing, it is highly competitive and fun. I learned a lot this year, from how to prefish to making on the water adjustments. It has definitely been a season of learning. The American Fishing Tour is a fantastic organization that allows anglers the ability to compete at a national level, while keeping costs down. This gives us, as anglers, a chance to learn and improve before moving up in the competition levels.
In the American Fishing Tour, there are two championship tournaments. The first being an event that only the district AOY’s are invited, and the second is a National Championship that the Top 500 anglers from across the nation are invited to fish. Separated by a week, anglers that qualify for both have ten days of championship level bass fishing ahead of them.
The National AOY tournament takes each division’s angler of the year and puts them on a lake with one day of prefishing and eight hours of tournament time. I personally love this kind of event. There will be about 50 of the nation’s best anglers competing for a winner take all package worth about $60,000. With no home field advantage, we have to figure it out in a day’s time and then go catch them the next day. I usually do very well in this situation. I have no pre determined patterns or spots to fish. This forces anglers to take the seasonal pattern and apply it to the lake, then using weather and water conditions determine a productive pattern.
Last year in this same event on Lake Greenwood, in South Carolina, I finished in 7th place. If I had one more day I could have done much better; but that’s a long fisherman’s story. By the end of the tournament, I had a pattern dialed in and was catching bass everywhere I stopped. The local district angler put a pretty good limit of bass together and walked away with it. However, that was then and kudos to him. More often than not the single local angler doesn’t fair well. With preconceived ideas of where fish should be and where they have caught them before, the local angler can really have trouble in this kind of event.
The National Championship tournament is the Nation’s top 500 anglers. This is a three day event, however there are three prefishing days. Again, I always enjoy these types of tournaments because it’s a new lake, new experiences and new ideas. Every day is a new adventure, and there is a prize at the end. Another $60,000 bass boat. There are also places paid out in cash. Last year on Lake Murray, I came in somewhere in the mid twenties and took home a check and three Odyssey Batteries.
The last few weeks I have been studying fall data from all over the country, looking at the maps, searching for clues on the internet, and brushing up on my fall fishing tactics. I’ve been going to local lakes that offer the same kind of structure and basic lake composition to practice on patterns that should be effective on the Oklahoma waters. As always it’s an exciting time to be a bass fisherman and what better time to be fishing than in the fall for a $60,000 boat and the title of National Angler of the Year.
If you can’t tell, I’m very excited about these two championship tournaments. The fishing, the competition, and the camaraderie are off the charts and it’s ten days of pure excitement and adrenalin rush for me. It’s one of those vacations that when it’s over you need a long nights sleep!!
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