Clouse Crowned PAA Angler of the Year
Sep 17th, 2012 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 17th, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Muskogee, Okla. (September 15, 2012) – Gary Clouse thought that he had missed a golden opportunity this week at the final 2012 Bass Pro Shops PAA Tournament Series presented by Carrot Stix on the Arkansas River in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The Tennessee pro, who is also the president and founder of Phoenix Bass Boats, entered the week leading the Angler Of the Year race after posting solid finishes in each of the first three tournaments of the year.
In January, Clouse and his partner John Kremer posted a 2nd place finish in the PAA Tour Team Challenge on Florida’s Lake Toho. He recorded a 26th place finish on Tennessee’s Old Hickory Lake to kick off the PAA Tournament Series regular season in May, and then notched a 6th place finish on Alabama’s Neely Henry Lake in late July.
Even though he held the lead in the AOY race with just one tournament remaining, a handful of talented anglers were well within striking distance of Clouse this week on the Arkansas River. With the Angler Of the Year points structured to allow each angler to drop the lowest score for the season and count only the three highest finishes, Clouse was hoping to improve on his 26th place finish on Old Hickory.
Clouse struggled on the Arkansas River and finished in 31st place. As a result, his AOY fate rested in the hands of two Elite Series pros, Mike McClelland and Greg Vinson, who each made the top 10 cut and had a chance of tracking down Clouse on the final day.
McClelland stumbled, bringing just one bass to the scales to finish in 10th place, and Vinson, who needed to win in order to catch Clouse in the AOY race, finished the tournament in 6th place.
When the final points were tallied, Clouse earned the 2012 PAA Tournament Series Angler Of the Year title with 486.52 points. He edged out 2nd place AOY finisher Steve Kennedy, who finished with a total of 465.70 points.
Along with the AOY trophy, Clouse earned free entry fees for the 2013 PAA Tournament Series season valued at $6,000 and two Minn Kota Talons.
“After Thursday, I thought that it would take a total of about 22 pounds to improve upon my Old Hickory finish and gain more Angler Of the Year points,” said Clouse, who crossed the stage with a limit weighing 9.23 pounds on the first day.
“I decided to take a gamble on Friday and it didn’t pay off. As it turns out, I would have given myself a little bit more breathing room in the AOY race if I had just stayed consistent and brought in a 10 pound limit.
“I feel very fortunate to have won this,” continued Clouse. “My goal at the beginning of the year was to qualify for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic. I made it last year and I really wanted to get back to that great tournament so I worked really hard to prepare for all of the tournaments this year.
“I really relied on my cranking rod and jig rod this year,” he continued. “I’ve been with St. Croix Rods for three years now and I really noticed that I landed a lot more fish with the Legend Tournament Bass Series.”
He said that the key moment in his Angler Of the Year campaign came during the second day of competition on Neely Henry. “On the way back to weigh-in, I had one little spot where I caught a five pounder when I was practicing before the off-limits. With 10 minutes to go on that second day, I pulled up and caught a big one that moved me up from 11 pounds to 14 pounds.” The additional AOY points proved to be the difference maker.