The Top 3 hits of 2014
Oct 1st, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 1st, 2014 at 12:00 AM
Outstanding. Terrific. Pretty darn good. These words are all capable adjectives to describe the 2014 pro bass season. Both the FLW Tour and the Bassmaster Elite Series had their shares of ups and downs, but overall it was one heck of a phenomenal year. For me, three things stood out above the rest, BASSfest, the Delaware River and the former full-time FLW only pros.
Pretty cool event. Sure, it seemed a bit odd in the middle of the Elite Series season to plop an event where everyone on the Elite Series received the same amount of points regardless of how they finished, but it sure did one thing I believe many sycophantic Elite Series supporters didn’t expect. It showed just how good the top FLW Tour anglers truly are.
The event was won by Jacob Wheeler. He put the smackdown on the bass living in Lake Chickamauga along with the Bassmaster Elite anglers. Oh yeah, this FLW Tour pro also earned a berth into the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Wheeler won the event in dominating fashion. In the finale with Wheeler was former Classic and FLW Tour champ Luke Clausen. Wheeler showed the bass world what a badass he truly is. The Elites received an epic beat down from Wheeler.
The Delaware River.
Sure, no angler from a rural area wants to travel into a big city, especially a city known to have plenty of crime, etc. However, the folks running the Bassmaster Elite Series took a big gamble bringing their pros to the Delaware River out of Philadelphia, PA. Funny thing, it worked. Big time.
After a ton of beefing by many of the anglers, local favorite Mike Iaconelli, who learned to fish on this stretch of the Delaware, won and the fishing world was exposed to some of the most ravenous fishing fans ever witnessed at a pro fishing event. Oh yeah, the fishing was tough, but not terrible. B.A.S.S. and its Elite pros highlighted just how solid urban fisheries can be and how fishing fans aren’t limited to those living on country roads.
Former FLW only pros.
Some of the former FLW only pros still fished both the Elites and the FLW Tour, but that isn’t important. What is important is the fact that the FLW Tour produces some of the best tournament pros. Sure, there is no qualifying process so essentially anyone with the money can fish the FLW Tour, but that doesn’t diminish the greatness of some of the anglers.
In 2014 we saw the rise of Jacob Powroznik, Justin Lucas, Randall Tharp, Chad Morgenthaler and Brett Hite on the Elite Series. In years past, both Matt Herren and Jason Christie were former FLW only pros.
Anyway, The Elite series kicked off its season on Lake Seminole and low-and-behold Brett Hite wins the event. Certainly the other Elites were thrilled he was fishing with them. Hite won the FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee just prior to fishing the Elite opener. Not bad.
Add to all of this, the battle for Angler of the Year (AOY) and Bassmaster Classic qualifications. Tharp was initially a factor, as was Hite, Lucas and Morgenthaler for the AOY race, but when the dust settled they all qualified to fish the Classic and Jacob Powroznik finished third overall in the AOY standings and took home the Rookie of the Year title. Oh yeah, Powroznik won two Elite events this season in Toledo Bend and Bays de Noc.
To be honest, these anglers have all fished FLW and B.A.S.S. events previously, but the old argument that one circuit is better than the other sure loses strength when you look at the results this season. Four of the nine Elite Series events were won by anglers fishing the FLW Tour only last year.
With all of the intermingling of the pros from one circuit to the other, perhaps we are closer to having a single major league like other pro sports have. One can dream.