Elite home stretch

Category: Tournament

 Jul 7th, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Jul 7th, 2014 at 12:00 AM

The 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series season has been quite the whirlwind so far. With only two regular season derbies left, the Delaware River and Cayuga Lake, there is little wiggle room for anglers attempting to make it to the Bassmaster Classic via standings or a tournament win.

Even more intriguing is the race for the coveted Angler of the Year (AOY) title. Three Anglers, Mark Davis, Greg Hackney and Aaron Martens (the 2013 AOY) are within 22 points of each other heading into the home stretch.

Bassmaster television host and former pro basser, Mark Zona, shared his thoughts on the upcoming run for the AOY.

Can Mark Davis keep the “Mully Grubs” at bay and capture his fourth AOY title?  (Joel Shangle)

It’s a season of surprises.

“This season has definitely been one of surprises,” said Zona. “In particular, the anglers who are sitting bunched up in the Top 3 spots for AOY heading into the last leg of the season.

“Of course, nobody is really surprised by Aaron Martens being there, but it’s remarkable he is currently in position again. Greg Hackney is a surprise and Mark Davis is sentimental favorite for sure.”

Martens needs to survive to have a shot.

“If Aaron Martens survives the Delaware River and Cayuga within 15 points of the leader going into Escanaba, he’s the favorite in my mind,” said Zona. “Aaron is gonna find them there. He just goes in and gets done what he needs to get done.

“Look, last year heading into the final event Aaron had a slight chance to win the AOY, but Edwin Evers was the man. Sure, we build up the drama for television, but nobody thought the math was in his favor, but he pulled it out. He’s very dangerous if he is that close in points.”

Waiting for Hackney.

“We’ve all been waiting for this season from Hackney,” said Zona. “I don’t know where he’s been these last 10 years. Sure, there have been glimpses of greatness like winning the FLW championship and some single events, but not the type of season he is having this year.

“Years ago, he was thought of as potentially the next Kevin VanDam. We were expecting this type of a season out of him almost every year.

“He feeds off momentum. He is really in tune with his fishing right now. I think when he is in a boat fishing for bass all year he fishes his best, not fishing for bull reds in Venice, but bass fishing. Right now he is a one-man-wrecking crew.”

Pulling for Davis.

“I admit it, I selfishly want Mark Davis to do well,” said Zona. “He is one of the reasons I am here in this business. Watching him grow up. I have wanted to cover Mark doing well and finally he is. I can go to bed happy knowing I covered him during a phenomenal season.

“I won’t say any more about Mark. I feel like I might jinx him.”

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