Reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam Leads Top 12 into Inaugural Toyota Trucks Championship Week

Category: press release

 Aug 16th, 2009 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Aug 16th, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam Leads Top 12 into Inaugural Toyota Trucks Championship Week

The inaugural Toyota Trucks Championship Week needed to start with a bang, and the Bassmaster Elite Series pros have made sure the fans get just what they ordered. At the conclusion of the regular season, the top 12 Elite Series pros in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings have officially qualified for BASS’ first two-event postseason. And before the postseason begins, there’s already a shootout at the front of the pack.

Reigning 2008 Angler of the Year Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., is just one point ahead of 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., and the two highly competitive pros look to ignite the first Elite Series postseason with a battle royal along with 10 other pros for the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year trophy and its accompanying top prize of $200,000.

Right behind them is 2008 Bassmaster Classic winner Alton Jones of Waco, Texas. The field also includes 2006 AOY and 2003 Classic winner Mike Iaconelli of Runnemede, N.J. (11th); 1989 and 1993 AOY Gary Klein of Weatherford, Texas (seventh); and, squeaking in at the last second, 2004 AOY Gerald Swindle of Warrior, Ala. (12th). The full list of qualifiers can be found below.

“Even Iaconelli and Swindle, being in 11th and 12th, have got a great shot,” VanDam said. “The drama is definitely going to be there. All through the season it’s been different because we knew about this postseason coming. The intensity was there from Day 1, the first day of competition.

“Everybody’s talking about Skeet and I making it so close, because the last couple of years we fought it out to the end. But the other 10 guys in this are just as able to win it as we are, and that’s the thing about it that’s so much different. This right here is going to be a shootout. These guys are the best anglers in the world. You look at the field and they’re all guys with a lot of wins, a lot of Classics, a lot of AOY titles. It’s going to be awesome.”

The inaugural Toyota Trucks Championship Week kicks off with the Trophy Chase, set for Sept. 12-13 on Lake Jordan out of Wetumpka, Ala.; the finale, the Evan Williams Bourbon Trophy Triumph, is slated for Sept. 17-18 on the Alabama River from Montgomery.

VanDam said he’s looking forward to getting started with practice on Lake Jordan, a fishery he has visited only once. He likes the manageability of it in size and predicts that two practice days will give everyone a solid read on the lake.

He has fished a few BASS tournaments on the Alabama River, and he said the two fisheries are extremely different and should prove an excellent test of the world’s top 12 bass anglers.

“The big thing there is – I’ve fished the Coosa River a lot – I know how important current is to the activity level of the fish. That’s going to be critical. If we get some rains in the fall, we’ll get some current and it’ll be a full-on shootout. If it’s hot and slick, it’s going to be a grind.

“You want to go in and get off to a good start. And I’m not exactly sure how I need to compete different, because this is new territory. But I’m excited to get going. There’s several people in the field who have a lot of experience on those lakes and the rest of us don’t who may have an advantage – but that can be a disadvantage, too. You just never know.”

Someone who might know is Swindle, an Alabama native who had to wait until the last day of the regular-season finale, the Champion’s Choice on Oneida Lake, to find out that he would be fishing in his home state for a shot at his second AOY title.

“This was a ninth-inning rally here,” Swindle said Sunday. “I just got momentum, I fished well this year in the early tournaments – I just didn’t have any high finishes. A little later in the year, it seemed like I was getting the bigger bites, getting in a rhythm physically and mentally.”

Swindle was 17th in the AOY standings coming in to the event at Oneida and had a lot of ground to cover to make the postseason. He punched his postseason ticket with a ninth-place finish and an overall four-day weight of 56 pounds, 4 ounces.

“I can’t even put into words what it means to come back,” said Swindle, who had a rough time coping in the offseason with the fact that he didn’t fish well enough in 2008 to make the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. “I know the 2004 Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle is still there. He just had a rough year – and the year before that wasn’t my best year, either.

“I think I’m back, and that’s what you’re looking for, freedom on the water and peace of mind.”

Swindle said being among the stacked postseason field of 12 is an honor, but that the AOY trophy does have a Swindle bull’s-eye on it.

“I knew better than to pre-fish,” he said, “but fishing at home will give me a lot of confidence.

“When we get there, it’s man on man and even if I go in at 12th, I’m going to be trying to rally. Hey, if you’re going to have a fight, have a good one.”

The full list of qualifiers is below, including regular-season points finish and the reset points positioning for the postseason.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at 407-566-2208 or visit Bassmaster.com. Visit espnmediazone.com for ESPN’s latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.

Official sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, BOOYAH Baits, Evan Williams Bourbon, Mercury, OPTIMA Batteries, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha Outboards.

Supporting sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series: Bass Pro Shops, Costa Del Mar, Ramada, SpongeTech and Triton Boats.

About BASS

For more than 40 years, BASS has served as the authority on bass fishing. With its considerable multimedia platforms and expansive tournament trail, BASS is guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans. Through its industry-leading publications Bassmaster Magazine, BASS Times and Fishing Tackle Retailer and comprehensive Web properties in ESPN360.com, ESPN’s broadband sports network, Bassmaster.com, BASSInsider.com and ESPNOutdoors.com, the organization is committed to delivering content true to the lifestyle. Additionally, television programming on ESPN2 continues to provide relevant content – from tips and techniques to in-depth tournament coverage – to passionate audiences.

The organization oversees the prestigious Bassmaster tournament trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite Series, Bassmaster Opens, Academy Sports + Outdoors Women’s Bassmaster Tour and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Bassmaster Classic. Through its grassroots network, the BASS Federation Nation, BASS annually sanctions more than 20,000 events.

BASS also offers an array of services to its more than 500,000 members while spearheading progressive, positive change on issues related to conservation and water access. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.


Media contact: Doug Grassian, 407-566-2216 or [email protected]

2009 Bassmaster Elite Series Toyota Trucks Championship Week Standings

Name, Hometown Postseason Points
1. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. 205
2. Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif. 204
3. Alton Jones, Waco, Texas 198
4. Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas 182
5. Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas 180
6. Randy Howell, Springville, Ala. 180
7. Tommy Biffle, Waggoner, Okla. 180
8. Mark Menendez, Paducah, Ky. 180
9. Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas 179
10. Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss. 177
11. Mike Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J. 175
12. Gerald Swindle, Warrior, Ala. 174

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