Friday, September 19, 2014

2014 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship Day 1: Brett Hite the Hero with 24lbs, Hackey Holding On!

Big bags of smallmouth dominate but all eyes on AOY leader board.
bass press release
ESCANABA, Mich. — Greg Hackney had numbers in mind while thinking about what it would take for him to win the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title this week at Lake Michigan.
Those numbers were 20 and 18, in that order.
Greg is holding onto the AOY but fishing was
better for Davis and Faircloth.
(Photo: BASS)
"I thought if I caught 20 pounds the first day and backed it up with 18 or 19, I'd be alright," said Hackney about his game plan for clinching the coveted AOY title.
After Day 1, the number 18 made him breathe a sigh of relief. That was his five-bass total weight Thursday, exactly.
"They actually weighed about two pounds heavier than what I thought I had," Hackney said. "That helped my feelings a little bit when I weighed in. (Friday) I've got to catch 20."
Todd Faircloth's number Thursday was 20 pounds, 15 ounces. That allowed him to cut into Hackney's lead in the AOY race.
Faircloth was in third place, 17 points behind. Now he's in second place, 10 points back.
Aaron Martens was discouraged by his numbers. A Day 1 total of 17-6 dropped him from 15 points behind Hackney to 19 points back.
"I'm irritated," said Martens, who won the second AOY title of his career last year. "I just started in the wrong spot. It's important where you start, very important."
Immediately after Thursday's weigh-in, the numbers everyone started thinking about were 15 to 25.
That's the predicted wind speed for Friday – out of the south –in the Little Bay de Noc and Big Bay de Noc areas of Lake Michigan, where this season-ending event is being held.
"A south wind is the very worst wind that could blow here," Faircloth said. "It's rolling all the way from Green Bay. Those waves get monstrous."
Of the three primary contenders for the AOY title, Faircloth has the longest boat run to make.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to get there," he said. "I can fish there on a south wind, but getting there is the problem. I've got to cross about 12 miles of pretty treacherous water."
Faircloth doesn't have a backup plan.
"I feel like I've got all my eggs in one basket, in one area," he said. "If I'm going to do well, and potentially win the AOY title, I think it's right there."
B.A.S.S. officials won't allow a competition day to begin in dangerous conditions, like what a 20-mile-an-hour southerly wind would produce here.
But that forecast simply gave these anglers, who have nothing but numbers running through their heads in the season-ending event, one more number to think about.
There were at least two guys, however, that would sleep well Thursday night. Scott Rook and Cliff Crochett simply needed to catch one bass measuring at least 14 inches to accomplish their goals for the week – qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic.
Anglers must catch at least one fish to earn the last place points awarded in the tournament. And with those points, Rook and Crochett would clinch their Classic spots.
Crochett caught 3 bass weighing 11-7 that put him in 46th place. Rook caught a limit Thursday weighing 12-14, which put him in 44th place. Mission accomplished.
"I would have been just as happy with one fish," Rook said. "The rest of the week is gravy for me."

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