BASS PRESS RELEASE
|Lucas gains big lead as Bertrand stumbles.|
He hasn’t been sleeping well. He’s been waking up in the middle of the night with his mind racing about this week’s Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship.
But after Thursday, he should rest a little better — and with two more days just like it, he’ll probably get some of the best sleep of his life.
Lucas, who finished the regular season as the leader in the AOY standings, caught five bass that weighed 13 pounds, 6 ounces during Thursday’s opening round of the AOY Championship on Lake Chatuge. That stretched his lead in the standings from nine points to a whopping 53 over second-place angler Josh Bertrand — and put him in prime position for a major career boost and the $100,000 bonus that goes with it.
“I just want that AOY trophy,” Lucas said emphatically. “You know I want to win this tournament this week. But I’d be 100 percent satisfied with a Top 8 finish. I’d be 100 percent satisfied if I finish eight points ahead of Josh.
“That AOY trophy is all I care about.”
As with past years, the AOY Championship is basically two events in one. First and foremost, it’s designed to bring closure to a nine-event Bassmaster Elite Series schedule that began in February on Alabama’s Lake Martin. It pays $1 million to the 50 AOY qualifiers based on their points totals at the end of the event, except for $25,000 going to the winner of the tournament.
Lucas, who grew up in California and now lives in Alabama, built his regular-season lead with five Top 12 finishes, including four in a row to end the season. He rode that momentum into Thursday’s first round and managed a double-digit weight despite tough fishing conditions on Chatuge.
The fishery, which is known for its giant populations of spotted bass and blueback herring, has proved difficult for the anglers since the official practice period began Monday. It was particularly tough Thursday for Bertrand — an Arizona native and a longtime friend of Lucas.