Ultimate Bass

Todd Faircloth is Up Against Bass Fishing’s Best

Todd Faircloth
Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas

Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, is back on top in the points race for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) title, but now he has Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese to worry about.

Michigan’s VanDam, in second, and Reese of Auburn, Calif., in third, have an acquired taste for bass fishing’s highest honor and the $250,000 top prize. Reese is the reigning AOY. VanDam claimed the AOY title in 1992, 1996 and 1999, and went down to the wire with Reese for the 2007 crown.

Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas
Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas

BASS Reporter’s Notebook: Regaining the AOY Lead, Todd Faircloth is Up Against Bass Fishing’s Best

Todd Faircloth of Jasper, Texas, is back on top in the points race for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) title, but now he has Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese to worry about.

Michigan’s VanDam, in second, and Reese of Auburn, Calif., in third, have an acquired taste for bass fishing’s highest honor and the $250,000 top prize. Reese is the reigning AOY. VanDam claimed the AOY title in 1992, 1996 and 1999, and went down to the wire with Reese for the 2007 crown.

In short, they are two of the sport’s best.

“You don’t expect anything but having those guys up there,” said Faircloth, a two-time Elite event winner who is going for his first AOY crown. “They’re always there, battling for the AOY title. I expect them there in the remaining four (Bassmaster Elite Series) events, as well as Mike (McClelland) and the rest of the guys.”

McClelland of Bella Vista, Ark., and Faircloth had been neck-in-neck since mid-April. Faircloth’s sixth-place finish in last week’s Elite event in Alabama helped him shake McClelland — for the moment. After finishing 43rd in Alabama, McClelland dropped to fourth place in points, 77 behind.

Faircloth is prepared for what it will take to fend off VanDam, just 18 points away, and Reese, who is trails by 60 points.

“It’s definitely going to be a grind,” Faircloth said. “You’re not going to be able to stub our toe at any of the events left in the schedule.”

VanDam began the season-long race in 31st place. He then shot into fifth, only to later drop to 13th before he settled into a steady, upward pace that got him into the runner-up spot this past weekend.

Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich
Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich

Reese, out of the gate in 17th place before moving to the top, is pumped for the home stretch on the Trail to the Trophy. “With four more events — that’s 16 days of competition — a lot can happen,” he said.

“A lot” could be a win for Reese. He’s the only one of the top four who hasn’t bagged a win this season. If Reese were to score his second consecutive AOY title, he would join Guido Hibdon and Roland Martin as the only other consecutive winners. Martin accomplished the feat four times on his way to a record nine AOY titles.

Reese also warned that a long shot contender could be a possibility. Right now, that would include Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers in fifth place, 133 points behind Faircloth. Arizona pro Dean Rojas is another possibility, who is in sixth place, 177 points out of first.

Either pro would have to perform exceptionally while those in front stumble hard on the remaining four events. But Rojas has faith that one or all of the four remaining 2008 Elite events will get him there.

“I like my chances in all four,” Rojas said. “I want every chance I can get to win Angler of the Year.”

One thing’s for sure: Each pros’ points total will change next Sunday with the conclusion of the Bluegrass Brawl presented by DieHard Platinum Marine Batteries. The June 12-15 Elite event will be on Kentucky Lake out of Gilbertsville, Ky.

BASS HELPS BOOST PUBLIC ACCESS TO KENTUCKY LAKE. BASS recently partnered with the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife to improve angler access to Kentucky Lake.

A contribution of $7,000 from BASS helped fund replacement of an old courtesy dock at Kenlake State Park.

Kentucky Lake is the site of the June 12-15 Bluegrass Brawl presented by DieHard® Platinum Marine Batteries. The Bassmaster Elite Series event will be at another lake facility, Kentucky Dam Marina in Gilbertsville, Ky.

The Kenlake dock project is part of BASS’ ongoing commitment to help improve public access to the nation’s bass fisheries. More information on this and other efforts of BASS is available at http://www.Bassmaster.com/Conservation.

BASS GIVEAWAY DRAWS A CROWD. The BASS 40th Anniversary Gear Up Giveaway at http://www.Bassmaster.com received more than 60,000 entries in the event’s first week.

One of the week’s biggest prizes, an Exmark Quest riding lawnmower, drew more than 23,000 entries. Wes Meyer of Murphysboro, Ill., a BASS member, won the lawnmower.

Fishing fans can continue to register at http://www.Bassmaster.com through June 30 to win one of 325 prizes. Prizes include a Humminbird 797 c2 SI Combo marine electronics unit, an Abu Garcia Revo STX reel, a BASS Lifetime Membership, and an Oobe Summit Jacket.

Daily entrants’ names will automatically be put in the hat to win the grand prize, a Triton/Mercury boat rig with an official Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Tundra wrap.

There’s no cost to enter the sweepstakes. The simple sign-up is on the BASS 40th Anniversary Gear Up Giveaway log-in page.

ORANGE COUNTY CHOPPER AT THE BRAWL. A display of the DieHard bike built by the famed Orange County Choppers is just one of the attractions planned for fans at the June 12-15 Bluegrass Brawl presented by DieHard Platinum Marine Batteries in Gilbertsville, Ky.

The OCC, the father-son bike-building team, created the chopper after acquiring a sponsorship with DieHard. Fans at the Bassmaster Elite Series event will be challenged to find the many DieHard details of the bike — besides, of course, its DieHard battery.

While the Elite pros compete on Kentucky Lake for a $100,000 first-place prize, fans also can see how a boat is wrapped when H2O gives a live demo, 2-5 p.m. CT Saturday and Sunday.

Purolator will conduct a Big Bass Giveaway contest. The winner will be the fan whose name was randomly paired with the name of the Elite pro who weighs in the largest lunker of the tournament.

Daily weigh-ins are set for 5:00 p.m. CT Thursday-Sunday at Kentucky Dam Marina in Gilbertsville.

For the full list of Bluegrass Brawl events, fans can go to http://www.Bassmaster.com and view the “Attend and Event” link. All events are free.

IT AIN’T EASY, FOLKS. “It looks good to weigh-in a big sack, but it’s a lot of work to catch them. I had to work really hard for this.” — Michigan’s Kevin VanDam, moments after weighing a 22-pound, 12-ounce bag that earned him a $10,000 Berkley Heavyweight bonus for largest bag of the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Alabama’s Wheeler Lake.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit ESPNMediaZone.com for ESPN’s latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video, audio clips and more.

About BASS

For 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multi-media platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive web properties in Bassmaster.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the Bassmaster Classic, the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS sanctions more than 20,000 events annually.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 525,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.



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