ESCANABA, Mich. — Gonzales pro angler Greg Hackney is one day closer to claiming the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year title on the Bassmaster Elite Series trail after weighing in a five-bass, 19-pound limit after Thursday’s first round of the circuit’s AOY Championship.
Going into Friday’s second of three days on the waters of Little Bay de Noc off Lake Michigan, Hackney holds a 10-point lead over Texas angler Todd Faircloth.
Hackney’s first-day total put him in 17th place, while Faircloth 20-pound, 15-ounce stringer had him in 10th place in the 50-angler field. Hackney entered this first-ever championship with a 17-point lead over Faircloth and a 15-point lead over Leeds, Alabama, pro and defending AOY titlist Aaron Martens, who finished the first day in 21st place.
The tournament’s overall leader, Brett Hite of Phoenix, rolled away from the scales with a 24-6 total, just four ounces ahead of Brandon Lester (24-2) and five ounces ahead of Jacob Powroznik (24-1). Reports were that most anglers were catching smallmouth bass.
But the real contest is for the AOY and its $100,000 bonus. Anglers are on the water Friday, take the day off Saturday for Military Appreciation Day and Bassmaster University seminars before taking to the water for Sunday’s finale.
After Thursday, Hackney needs only to finish within 10 places of Faircloth to take the title.
If there’s a tie in AOY standings after Sunday, Hackney would claim the title because his total catch weight through the eight Elite Series events and this event is ne ounce shy of boating 292 pounds, while Faircloth has 257-14 and Martens is at 224-7.
Pierre Part pro Cliff Crochet also is in the field and holds down 46th place with a three-fish catch weighing 11-7.
Both Hackney and Crochet have qualified for next February’s Bassmaster Classic, Hackney after his win in the Elite tournament in upstate New York in late August, and Crochet’s place in the AOY points standings.