Zona’s 2015 midseason Elite Series review
May 21st, 2015 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified May 21st, 2015 at 12:00 AM
Fans of the Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments have had one heck of a ride so far in the 2015 season. From a classic grinder tournament on the Sabine River in Texas, to the absolute bass-o-saurus fest that was the California Delta, the Elite Series schedulers and pros have delivered big time for the sport and the fans.
So, when such a killer first half of the season has come and gone, what can we expect during second-half play? Bass Pro Shops staffer and Bassmaster TV host Mark Zona gives us his thoughts on the season so far and what’s on the table for part two.
Zona feels the biggest surprise so far in 2015 is the performance of Greg Hackney and Randall Tharp.
“Seriously, the biggest surprise for me is where Greg Hackney and Randall Tharp are in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings,” said Zona. “I know Hackney is still in the Top 25, but I thought his momentum would’ve carried through from last year…. Especially since these have been primarily shallow tournaments.
“Same for Randall Tharp. He is having a terrible year so far. The first four events have all been won shallow. Under 7-feet deep. Sure, deeper water had a part in Havasu, but it was won shallow.
“The shallow grass patterns are Tharp’s strong suit. To see Tharp ranked in the 80s somewhere (actually 88th) is shocking to me. Hopefully he’ll turn it around.”
The 2015 Elite season seems tailor made for one angler in particular.
“I did an article with Mike Suchan at Bassmaster earlier this year,” said Zona. “I was torn apart for saying what I did, but I’m gonna say it again. The 2015 Elite season looks like it was made for Aaron Martens to win.
“Look, he won at Havasu and finished second at the California Delta. He’s sitting in third in the AOY standings. The rest of the season will completely fit into his wheelhouse.
“The first half of the season was a shallow water deal. The second half will have a lot more deep water. Aaron is a killer there, whether it’s the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario or St. Clair. Martens likely would’ve won St. Clair the last time we were there if he didn’t have a boat issue on the last day.
“Unless he has an unforeseen disaster, I believe Aaron Martens is my top pick for winning another AOY title this year.”
Although Zona believes it’s Aaron Martens’ year, he has two more anglers on his watch list for the rest of 2015.
“For me the other two anglers to keep your eyes on are Kevin VanDam and Brent Ehrler,” said Zona. “Look, KVD seems to me to be back in his groove after an off 2014. He may not take the AOY title this season, but he will end up near the top.
“Now Brent Ehrler is just dangerous. He had a terrible start at the Sabine, but he’s now 9th overall heading into the rest of the season that plays to his deep water strengths. Ehrler was probably the most feared angler coming over to the Elites this year. He has a terrific chance of taking the AOY title, if Aaron stumbles.”