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2009 Elite Series - Champion’s Choice


The 2006 tournament was held in July, but patterns should be pretty stable into August, when the Elites visit in 2009. The variety of techniques that worked three years before is a testament to the quality of this fishery. Topwaters, tubes, drop shotting, stickworms and flipping jigs all brought catches of better than 60 pounds to the scales. Any of these techniques — or something completely different — could win in 2009.

Tour Review

KVD's thoughts going into the preseason

“Everybody’s talking about Skeet and I making it so close, because the last couple of years we fought it out to the end. But the other 10 guys in this are just as able to win it as we are, and that’s the thing about it that’s so much different. This right here is going to be a shootout. These guys are the best anglers in the world. You look at the field and they’re all guys with a lot of wins, a lot of Classics, a lot of AOY titles. It’s going to be awesome.”

“Even Iaconelli and Swindle, being in 11th and 12th, have got a great shot,” VanDam said. “The drama is definitely going to be there. All through the season it’s been different because we knew about this postseason coming. The intensity was there from Day 1, the first day of competition.”

KVD said he’s looking forward to getting started with practice on Lake Jordan, a fishery he has visited only once. He likes the manageability of it in size and predicts that two practice days will give everyone a solid read on the lake.

He has fished a few BASS tournaments on the Alabama River, and he said the two fisheries are extremely different and should prove an excellent test of the world’s top 12 bass anglers.

“The big thing there is — I’ve fished the Coosa River a lot — I know how important current is to the activity level of the fish. That’s going to be critical. If we get some rains in the fall, we’ll get some current and it’ll be a full-on shootout. If it’s hot and slick, it’s going to be a grind.”

“You want to go in and get off to a good start. And I’m not exactly sure how I need to compete different, because this is new territory. But I’m excited to get going. There’s several people in the field who have a lot of experience on those lakes and the rest of us don’t who may have an advantage — but that can be a disadvantage, too. You just never know.”

The Top 12
1. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — 205

2. Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif. — 204

3. Alton Jones, Waco, Texas — 198

4. Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas — 182

5. Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas — 180

6. Randy Howell, Springville, Ala. — 180

7. Tommy Biffle, Waggoner, Okla. — 180

8. Mark Menendez, Paducah, Ky. — 180

9. Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas — 179

10. Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss. — 177

11. Mike Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J. — 175

12. Gerald Swindle, Warrior, Ala. — 174

KVD will open the post season as the AOY race leader

Skeet Reese, who finished 14th, ended up as the regular-season AOY points leader with 2,043 – previous leader and defending AOY Kevin VanDam (27th here) ended with 2,033. But VanDam will again assume the lead when the postseason begins because BASS will move the decimal point one place to the left and award VanDam two bonus points for his victory at Smith Mountain Lake.

VanDam will open competition in Alabama with a 205 total and Reese will have 204. A 50-point scale will be used for those events.

Top 8 for postseason after day 3 on Oneida

If the regular season ended after day 3 in the Champions Choice, the top 8 for the AOY postseason would be:

  1. Skeet Reese Auburn, Calif. 2043
  2. Kevin VanDam Kalamazoo, Mich. 2033
  3. Alton Jones Waco, Texas 1979
  4. Kelly Jordon Mineola, Texas 1819
  5. Todd Faircloth Jasper, Texas 1799
  6. Randy Howell Springville, Ala. 1796
  7. Gary Klein Weatherford, Texas 1789
  8. Mark Menendez Paducah, Ky. 1775
  1. Tommy Biffle Wagoner, Okla. 1774
Bite is close for the AOY race

While much of the focus for the TTBAOY race centers on the race for the 12 postseason berths, there is still a battle at the top of the leaderboard to get into position heading to Alabama. Alton Jones is at the center of the battle, trying to close the gap between himself, Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam.

“Right now we are all catching them,” Jones said. “That makes it hard to close the gap. One of us will get the right bite tomorrow and that will make the difference in the TTBAOY race.”

The man getting the right bite thus far has been Reese, the current TTBAOY leader, who stumbled slightly on Day Two and now has a mere 15-point lead over VanDam. The Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year picture will become much clearer on Saturday, where the 50 angler left will vie for a shot at the top 12, in both this tournament and the postseason.

AOY race tight heading into the last regular season event

KVD on Lake Onieda:
“Every time we come here it’s different. The grass changes and the fish seem to be different. You think that you’d be able to go and fish the same places you have in the past but you can’t.

“There’s a really big algae bloom this year and that has made the water where the visibility isn’t there to get the reaction bite. I caught some good fish doing a few different things but it seems like every time we come here it gets tougher and tougher to find that magical spot.

“The first year we were here I was catching 100 bass a day. It’s a far cry from that for now. I spent some time largemouth fishing and I have done that every time we’ve been here but I’m going to do it more this year. The quality is there so it’s just hard to bypass them.”

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2009 Elite Series - Champion’s Choice
Oneida Lake, Syracuse, New York
Aug 14 - Aug 17, 2009


Chad Griffin - 50-0
1. 15-3, 2. 18-8, 3. 16-5
Greg Hackney - 45-12
1. 13-7, 2. 17-4, 3. 15-1
Jeff Kriet - 45-4
1. 13-12, 2. 15-9, 3. 15-15
Gerald Swindle - 45-0
1. 15-9, 2. 13-4, 3. 16-3
Jason Quinn - 44-15
1. 15-7, 2. 16-5, 3. 13-3
Bernie Schultz - 44-14
1. 15-7, 2. 16-12, 3. 12-11
Dean Rojas - 44-9
1. 14-8, 2. 15-15, 3. 14-2
Matthew Sphar - 44-2
1. 12-1, 2. 17-9, 3. 14-8
Tommy Biffle - 43-4
1. 15-13, 2. 12-13, 3. 14-10
Terry Butcher - 43-2
1. 15-6, 2. 14-1, 3. 13-11
Steve Kennedy - 42-13
1. 10-13, 2. 17-4, 3. 14-1
Takahiro Omori - 42-11
1. 16-11, 2. 13-4, 3. 12-12
Skeet Reese - 42-11
1. 15-8, 2. 13-4, 3. 13-15
Kevin VanDam - 41-1
1. 14-0, 2. 13-2, 3. 13-15

History & Notes;

  • Big Bass*

Day 3:
Randy Howell 4-3
Alton Jones 4-3