AOY Races: a “Dogfight” and possibly history in the making

SACRAMENTO – CA. – Up until about a month ago, things were relatively quiet on the “western front” in regards to the Thunder Valley Outdoors/Future Pro Tour Angler of the year races. Leaders in both regions were sitting comfortable in their respective divisions, hoping for the best, and waiting for the clock to run out on those still chasing the top spot.

But now, as the tour approaches its final event of the year – teams within each division, vying for the most coveted title in amateur bass fishing, are beginning to feel the pressures of “crunch time”, the distractions of fighting through “dock talk”, and the ever-present temptation to second guess their own abilities.

“The pressure is definitely on”, stated  a weary Stan Prickett who along with team partner Bill Santini of Oakdale, and Escalon respectively, have high hopes of moving up from their current position of 2nd place in the points race, to overtake the leaders and secure the central valley region’s Angler of the Year title.

Mike Bernard and Robert Riley, current leaders in the central valley AOY race, are coming off what to them was a disappointing performance in last month’s event, but are not letting that one event get the best of them. “We’re not letting one tough day get to us.. but are using it to strengthen our resolve to stay the course..because we know full well that keeping a motivated Bill Santini and Stan Prickett at arm’s length and away from OUR central valley Angler of the Year titles will be no easy task!”

And the motivation for Prickett and Santini is indeed alluring because if they do succeed in winning the Angler of the Year title, they will be the first team in the 10-year history of the Future Pro Tour to ever win both a Future Pro Tour Classic Title (they won the Classic in 2008), and a Thunder Valley Outdoors/Future Pro Tour Angler of the Year title.


Northern region AOY – “range war”

Many would not think it possible that the northern AOY title could be won by anyone other than a northern region team. Yes, it’s true that Vince Bernal and Scott Stevens did it in 2010, but after all, that could be easily explained away by some as a simple “anomaly”, or a fluke, and any other central valley team with aspirations of AGAIN repeating such a feat and “poaching” the title away from the northern region’s stronghold of experienced anglers, should be classified as delusional …correct?

So why then do we have a virtual wire-to-wire horse race brewing between Cocoons promotional team anglers Justin Nelson and Tony Koregolos (from the northern region) and perennial ol’ school favorites from the central valley, Paul Cox and Rudy Linn?

It’s simple….to competitive bass anglers,  the thrill of a challenge is intoxicating, and to be the best…they know you have the beat the best.

For 2012, that is just what Paul and Rudy set out to do, as after winning last year’s Future Pro Tour Classic, and crushing the field on a lake neither had ever seen before (Folsom), they were motivated to branch out of their comfort zone and compete in a larger region that presented even more challenges.

And acting on that motivation paid off in a big way, as they came busting out of the gates – in commanding fashion, scoring high enough in the tour’s northern region events throughout the year, to dominate that regions anglers and earn their spot at the top of the list in the race for the northern region’s Angler of the year title.

“These northern lakes are no joke”, noted Rudy and Paul who reside in Modesto. They are expansive, everything looks fishable, and sometimes we wonder what we got ourselves into. But at the end of the day we know that a bass.. is a a bass, and you just have to figure out where they should be, what combination of baits and presentation to use, and be confident in your own abilities”.

Paul and Rudy also have a great source of motivation, as they too have the opportunity to become the first team in the history of the Thunder Valley Outdoors/Future Pro Tour, to ever win both the Thunder Valley Outdoors/Future Pro Tour Classic title and the Angler of the Year title.

Justin Nelson and Tony Koregelos have one more hurdle to climb if they ever want to see their AOY dreams ever come to fruition. That hurdle is known as the California delta, which is the last event of the 2012 season. And being one of their favorite bodies of water on the tour’s schedule, one would think that these two have the northern region’s AOY title in the bag.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as many a delta aficionado will quickly tell you that the delta with all of its “best pound-for-pound bass fishery in the United States” status, can at times make you a zero as quickly as it made you a hero. And both Tony and Justin know this very well and are prepared to leave it all on the river come the final event on October 20th.


Rookie of the Year Race

The inaugural “Up A Comer” award presented to the Future Pro Tour angler with less than two years experience participating in organized tournament competition is coming to a close with “rookie” level anglers fighting it out for their slice of glory – against anglers with similar levels of competitive angling experience. Welch and Goodman are leading the race in the central region, along with the team of Paez and Paez of the northern region, and both are anxious to compete in their respective final FPT events of the year, as you can their best believe they will leave it all out on the lake to win that division’s award.

The only thing you can be sure of when it comes to bass fishing….is that you can’t be sure of anything, and prognosticate though we may..know one knows how this will all turnout. But what we do know is that very soon we will have a new set of unique FPT title winners…and perhaps, some will make history.

So get ready everyone as we brace for a “dog fight” and range war” of magnum proportions, as the top amateur teams in the west dig in and slug it out for their respective Angler of the year, Rookie of the Year crowns, and earn the right to be called the best amateur teams in the west!

See you all on the water!




The Thunder Valley Outdoor Future Pro Tour is presented in part by:

  • Thunder Valley Casino Resort
  • Nationwide Insurance
  • Ranger Boats
  • Evinrude Outboards
  • Johnson Outdoors – featuring Humminbird /Minn Kota
  • Cocoons Eyewear
  • River2Sea USA
  • Gamakatsu USA
  • The Fish Sniffer
  • Berkley
  • ABU Garcia
  • Yamamoto Custom Baits
  • Kinami Baits
  • Lucky Craft
  • West Marine
  • Snag Proof
  • MAACO Auto Painting
  • Dobyns Rods
  • Billy Chapman Jr’s Anglers Inn International El Salto Mexico
  • Roboworms
  • C&C Marine – Citrus Heights/Modesto
  • Anglers Marine – Anaheim/San Diego
  • Marine Unlimited – Petaluma
  • Fisherman’s Warehouse – Sac, Manteca/Fresno/San Jose and now online!
  • Hook, Line & Sinker – Oakley/Bethel and now online!
  • Walton’s Pond – San Leandro
  • Outdoor Pro Shops – Ronhert Park and now online!
  • Comfort Suites of Oakley
  • Adventure Memories – Go Pro Cameras
  • Destiny Wine Tours of Napa Valley
  • Boomerang Tools
  • Fat’s Asian Bistro


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About Mark

Mark Lassagne, born and raised in California is the creator of the popular, BASS ANGLER magazine. Mark a skillful professional angler, outdoor writer, promoter and top competitor on the western tournament circuits.

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