PHOTOS OF THE YEAR - ON THE WATER
Story and photos by Matt Pangrac
Moore, OK - This is part-one of a two-part feature unveiling the best photos of the year that were taken by The BZ during the 2012 Elite Series season. Today, it’s all about capturing the on-the-water action. The BZ's Matt Pangrac was on-location from Florida to New York, capturing each memorable moment of the 2012 season.
What follows are the best photos from the second half of the year. To view the best photos from the first half of the year, CLICK HERE.
The second half of the 2012 season kicked off on Toledo Bend. While the Elite Series had visited the massive reservoir located on the border of Louisiana and Texas in early 2011, it was a totally different bite this time around in June.
With the fish holding offshore, it played right into the hands of deep structure fishermen like Mark Davis, pictured above. The bite wasn’t easy, as Davis spent hours repeating the exact same cast with a small Carolina-rig. Persistence paid off in a big way on day two, as Davis was eventually able to corral this cantankerous five-pounder.
Davis wasn’t the only one who experienced some tense moments while fighting quality bass boatside on Toledo Bend. Local favorite, Todd Faircloth, found a sweet spot just off the main channel and mined it with light-line and spinning tackle.
Here, Faircloth cautiously scoops a three pounder in the boat after fighting it for over two minutes. The fish boosted Faircloth to a 15th place finish and helped keep him in the hunt for the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year title.
Ott DeFoe also needed to catch them at The Bend in order to keep pace with Chapman in the TTAOY race. He did just that, bettering Faircloth by a single spot with a 14th place finish.
Stroking a jig in deep timber, DeFoe hooked up on a solid keeper at noon on the second day to fill out a limit. In an attempt to keep the fish from jumping, DeFoe employed the famous “tarpon bow” while boating the bass.
Following Toledo, it was a move north, as the Elite Series headed to the Mississippi River in Wisconsin for the first time. The tournament turned into a slugfest, as nearly every angler in the field brought a limit to the scales each day.
Taking advantage of a hot frog bite, Arizona’s Dean Rojas keyed on a small stretch of the Mississippi to finish in 4th place. The frog wasn’t his only weapon during the week on the river, as he mixed in flipping bait and a bladed jig.
As is often the case on river fisheries, accessing hard to reach areas paid off in Wisconsin. After failing to notch a top 40 performance in the two previous Elite Series tournaments leading up to the Mississippi River, Mike Iaconelli knew that he needed a rally to stay in Classic contention.
On day three, Ike trimmed up and used his engine to power across an ultra shallow sand and gravel flat.
After falling outside of the Classic cut, Takahiro Omori’s comeback started on the Mississippi River in La Crosse Wisconsin. Fishing within a mile of at least 10 other competitors, Omori found an unmolested stretch of main river riprap and went to work.
In the span of 20 minutes, he boated seven keepers including this three pound smallmouth that helped him finish the tournament in 19th place.
The 2012 season will forever hold special meaning to Yusuke Miyazaki, who qualified for the first Bassmaster Classic of his career.
Miyazaki needed a solid finish in the season finale on Oneida Lake in New York to make the Classic, and this high-flying three-and-a-half pounder on Friday morning was a giant step in the right direction.
Iaconelli makes his second appearance in the best photos of the year with a crowded shot from the second morning on Oneida Lake. After shocking the crowd with a 21+ pound limit on Thursday, the New Jersey pro was literally hemmed by spectators as he attempted to fish an offshore shoal.
Ike was never able to recapture his first day magic, and he faded to a 39th place finish.