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Bassmaster Elite Anglers Battle For $1 Million Payout

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Jacob Powroznik of Port Haywood, Va., jumps to second place in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year points on the first day of the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship held on Sturgeon Bay out of Door County, Wis. 

Photo by Seigo Saito/Bassmaster

Sept. 17, 2015

Bassmaster Elite Anglers Battle For $1 Million Payout

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DOOR COUNTY, Wis. — One million dollars is on the line for the Top 50 Bassmaster Elite Series anglers as the 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship began this morning on Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

It’s a tournament unlike any other event in the Elite Series. It’s all about the cumulative points each angler amasses through finishes in eight regular season tournaments plus the the AOY Championship. As Bassmaster Emcee Dave Mercer put it today: “These are the final days of a year-long tournament.”

At stake are berths in the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by GoPro — the prestigious “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” — and shares in the $1 million purse.

The Angler of the Year title, however, has already been decided. Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., claimed the crown in one of the most dominating seasons in Bassmaster history. With little at stake here, he’s out to have a good time fishing.

“I’m fishing for fun, but I’m making sure I don’t catch fish that another angler needs to improve their standings in the AOY race,” Martens said. “There’s no pressure for me to perform here, and I kind of like that.”

By finishing in sixth place at the final regular-season tournament on Lake St. Clair out of Detroit, Mich. Martens earned enough points to become untouchable and clinched his third AOY title.

The real story that’s developing on Sturgeon Bay is among the anglers battling for the required points to qualify for the Classic on Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Oklahoma.

The Top 24 anglers in the points only had to catch one fish today to earn a Classic berth, and each of them did. The proverbial bubble exists within a few places either side of 40th, which is the Classic cutoff.

These anglers have the most to lose or gain by their performance at this tournament.

“I experienced some gear-related problems this morning and that really set me back,” said Michael Iaconelli, the 2006 Bassmaster Angler of the Year. “The best fish I was catching during practice were in the morning, and I lost over two hours of fishing time while working things out. Fortunately, I managed to find enough bass to help me move up in points. Now my goal is to get out there tomorrow and improve on today’s weight and secure a Classic berth.”

Iaconelli started the day out in 45th place, but after weighing four bass totaling 11 pounds, 7 ounces he unofficially moved up to 38th, which is just inside the Classic cut. If he can stay consistent, he might remain in contention to compete in his 15th consecutive Bassmaster Classic.

Jacob Powroznik was holding down fourth place in the AOY race, but weighed the fourth largest limit of smallmouth bass with 20-1. He has now moved him into second place in points, unofficially. If that position improvement holds, he will tack on an additional $15,000 in prize money.

“Today I managed to get only 10 bites, and after I had five good bass in the livewell, I left it alone,” Powroznik said. “I think the same quality fish will be there again tomorrow, but they all have that old-fish look. That tells me they’ve seen lures before and will be harder to convince.”

Powroznik is fishing an area that is about 200 yards long that has been holding quite a few fish. But if the wind picks up out of the northwest, staying on the best part of his location could become difficult.

An interesting situation is brewing with Todd Faircloth, who won the Plano Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair a month ago. Coming into that tournament his chances of making the 2016 Classic were dismal at best. However, after that victory, fishing the Classic on Grand Lake is now a real possibility.

“I told myself that I wouldn’t put any added pressure on my season by focusing on the points I needed to make the Classic cut,” said the 13-time Classic contender. “I had a great year capped off by a victory on St. Clair. But, after a solid day out there, I’m really thinking the Classic is a possibility.”

Faircloth began his day in 40th place — currently the last place that will qualify for the Classic. After bringing a fine limit of bass to the scales Thursday afternoon weighing 18-5, he is currently in 33rd place, unofficially. A solid second and third day will lock in his 14th Bassmaster Classic appearance.

Takeoff will be Friday morning out of CenterPointe Marina at 6:30 a.m. CT. Afternoon weigh-in will be held in the same location beginning at 3:15 p.m.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, all 50 anglers will participate in Bassmaster University, which will take place during the day at CenterPointe Mariana. Anglers, including former AOYs Kevin VanDam, Michael Iaconelli and Skeet Reese, will be available for meet-and-greets, bass-fishing advice and seminars. Local vendors and sponsors will also be on-hand to discuss products and services.

Also on Saturday as part of its Bassmaster Fan and Military Appreciation Day, B.A.S.S. will give a special commemorative Bassmaster cap to the first 250 military service members who come to the B.A.S.S. booth with a military identification card. All 50 Elite anglers will be on hand to sign autographs as well.

Activities planned throughout the weekend are free and open to the public. Companies like Mercury, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton, and Yamaha will have booths at the expo and will offer demo rides. Toyota, Carhartt, Berkley, Booyah, Humminbird, Livingston Lures, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mustang, Plano, Power-Pole, Shimano, Rigid Industries and Costa Sunglasses, will also exhibit.

For more event information, including the Bassmaster University schedule, visit Bassmaster.com.

The local hosts for the event are the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center and the Door County Visitor Bureau.

2015 Toyota Angler of the Year Championship – Sturgeon Bay 9/17-9/20
Sturgeon Bay, Sturgeon Bay  WI.
Standings Day 1

Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Points

Angler                       Hometown                         Points
1 Aaron Martens             Leeds, AL                           767
2 Jacob Powroznik           Port Haywood, VA                    662
3 Justin Lucas              Guntersville, AL                    654
4 Dean Rojas                Lake Havasu City, AZ                653
5 Edwin Evers               Talala, OK                          635
6 Brent Ehrler              Newport Beach, CA                   623
7 Greg Hackney              Gonzales, LA                        617
8 Jason Christie            Park Hill, OK                       611
9 Chris Zaldain             San Jose, CA                        609
10 Matt Herren              Ashville, AL                        609
11 Bill Lowe                Brookville, IN                      589
12 Skeet ese                Auburn, CA                          586
13 Brandon Palaniuk         Rathdrum, ID                        584
14 Bernie Schultz           Gainesville, FL                     583
15 Greg Vinson              Wetumpka, AL                        579
16 Jordan Lee               Vinemont, AL                        579
17 Keith Combs              Huntington, TX                      575
18 Clifford Pirch           Payson, AZ                          572
19 Alton Jones              Lorena, TX                          565
20 Bobby Lane               Lakeland, FL                        563
21 John Crews               Salem, VA                           559
22 Chris Lane               Guntersville, AL                    547
23 Kevin VanDam             Kalamazoo, MI                       540
24 Randy Howell             Springville, AL                     534
25 David Walker             Sevierville, TN                     528
26 Russ Lane                Prattville, AL                      524
27 Boyd Duckett             Guntersville, AL                    518
28 Brandon Lester           Fayetteville, TN                    507
29 Chad Pipkens             Holt, MI                            507
30 Josh Bertrand            Gilbert, AZ                         502
31 Micah Frazier            Newnan, GA                          502
32 James Elam               Tulsa, OK                           501
33 Todd Faircloth           Jasper, TX                          498
34 Mark Davis               Mount Ida, AR                       493
35 Marty Robinson           Lyman, SC                           476
36 Ott DeFoe                Knoxville, TN                       476
37 Billy McCaghren          Mayflower, AR                       473
38 Michael Iaconelli        Pitts Grove, NJ                     470
39 Brett Hite               Phoenix, AZ                         470
40 Brandon Coulter          Knoxville, TN                       469
41 Ish                      Monroe Hughson, CA                  468
42 Steve Kennedy            Auburn, AL                          466
43 Mark Menendez            Paducah, KY                         466
44 Gerald Swindle           Warrior, AL                         465
45 John Murray              Phoenix, AZ                         463
46 Scott Rook               Little Rock, AR                     463
47 Morizo Shimizu           Osaka, JPN                          458
48 Jeff Kriet               Ardmore, OK                         452
49 Jonathon VanDam          Kalamazoo, MI                       449
50 Brandon Card             Caryville, TN                       414

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