UNDER THE RADAR
Moore, OK – With the 2012 Elite Series season in the books, The BZ highlights six storylines that flew under the radar:
Yusuke Miyazaki’s Classic Year
For the first time in his career, Yusuke Miyazaki made the Bassmaster Classic. He finished in 21st place in the Toyota Tundra Angler Of the Year standings, but his accomplishment went largely under the radar due to the fact that he recorded just two top 20 finishes, including a season high 10th place finish on Toledo Bend.
From 1997 through 2011, Miyazaki fished in 118 Bassmaster tournaments at the Tour, Invitational, and Elite Series level and cashed a check in 32% of the tournaments. In 2012, Miyazaki fished in a total of 10 tournaments between the Bassmaster Elite Series and Bassmaster Central Opens and cashed a check in 80% of the tournaments.
Miyazaki cashed a check in three consecutive tournaments on two different occasions in 2012. In the previous 15 seasons, he cashed a check in three consecutive tournaments a grand total of four times.
Prior to his 2013 Classic qualification, Miyazaki was the only one out of the four Japanese born anglers currently on the Elite Series who had yet to qualify for a Bassmaster Classic during their careers. With his Classic berth, he joins Takahiro Omori (9), Kota Kiriyama (6), and Morizo Shimizu (1).
Cliff Prince’s Toledo Bend Renewal
2012 rookie Cliff Prince started his Elite Series career with a little extra pressure. With the first tournament of the season on the St Johns River, his home fishery, the Florida rookie admitted that his best chance to excel in 2012 would be in Florida.
Prince finished in 16th place on the St. Johns, but missed the top 50 cut by a single ounce in his home state the following week on Lake Okeechobee. When he finished in 95th place at the third tournament of the year on Bull Shoals, it appeared as though Prince was in store for a painful rookie season.
He notched a 30th place finish at Douglas Lake, but the real turnaround started at the fifth stop of the season on Toledo Bend where he recorded a 5th place finish, his highest of the season. While the vast majority of the top 12 finishers at Toledo Bend fished offshore structure, Prince fished bridge pillars with a jig and crankbait.
He finished in 9th place the following Elite Series tournament on the Mississippi River and ended the year in 29th place in the TTAOY standings, qualifying for the Bassmaster Classic in his rookie season.
Lintner Hangs On
After cashing a check in four out of the first five Elite Series tournaments, Lintner was well on his way to qualifying for the fourth Classic of his career, but it appeared to be slipping away with back-to-back finishes of 58th and 55th at the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan.
Lintner entered the final tournament of the season on Oneida Lake knowing that he needed to post a top 15 finish to have a shot at qualifying for the Classic. He ended day one in 47th place, moved up to 15th place after day two, and finished the tournament in 13th place – his highest finish of the year.
When Brent Chapman fished the final Central Open of the year and Chris Lane fished in the final Southern Open of the year to double qualify for the Classic, it pushed the number of Elite Series qualifiers to 33, and that’s exactly where Lintner finished in the TTAOY standings. With his 33rd place TTAOY finish, the California pro edged out Scott Rook by a single AOY point to earn the final Elite Series berth on Grand Lake next February.
Bobby Lane’s Quiet Consistency
In 2012, Florida’s Bobby Lane put together another solid campaign and qualified for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic. The impressive fact is that Lane finished the year in 12th place in the TTAOY standings and did so after a suspect performance in Florida to start the year. At the St. Johns River, Lane finished in 60th place and missed a check.
Throughout the year, the majority of the focus fell on Bobby’s brother Chris, the newly crowned Classic champ. Bobby finished the year with just two top 20 finishes, but went on to cash a check in six out of the remaining seven tournaments following the St. Johns. The Classic berth marks the sixth consecutive year that he has qualified for the championship.
Noted for his prowess on grass lakes, Lane solidified the fact that he’s more than capable of excelling on non-grass lakes as well. His lone Elite Series win in 2009 came on an offshore shell bed on Kentucky Lake, and he notched his highest finish in 2012, a 7th place at Bull Shoals, throwing a crankbait around rock.
The Reese Roller Coaster
Black and yellow was in full effect for the first quarter of the Elite Series season. After missing the Classic for the first time in nine years, Skeet Reese got off to a hot start in Florida in 2012, leading the TTAOY race with a 5th place on the St. Johns River and a 3rd place finish on Okeechobee. Then the bottom fell out.
After the Florida swing, Reese posted consecutive finishes of 62nd at Bull Shoals, 78th at Douglas, and 61st at Toledo Bend. It was the first time since 2003 that Reese went three consecutive Bassmaster tournaments without cashing a check.
In the span of two and a half months, Reese went from leading the TTAOY standings to fighting for a spot in the Classic. He got his season back on track in the final three tournaments of the year, recording finishes of 36th, 7th, and 18th place to end the season in 11th place in the final TTAOY standings.
Out of the eight regular season tournaments in 2012, Reese recorded three top 10 finishes and three finishes below 60th place.
Twice as Nice
Two different anglers finished in 2nd place in back-to-back Elite Series tournaments in 2012.
In mid April, Britt Myers finished in 2nd place on Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. At the following tournament in early May on Douglas Lake, he finished runner up to Jeremy Starks.
Cliff Pace also accomplished the feat, finishing in 2nd place on Toledo Bend in early June and again finishing in 2nd two weeks later on the Mississippi River in Wisconsin.
While the back-to-back runner up finishes brought mixed emotions from both anglers, Pace had to overcome the closest calls, falling short of two Elite Series victories by a combined weight of 5 pounds, 8 ounces (4 pounds, 4 ounces at Toledo Bend and 1 pound, 4 ounces at the Mississippi River).
Myers finished second in his two tournaments by a combined weight of 13 pounds, 15 ounces (11 pounds 14 ounces at Bulls Shoals and 2 pounds, 1 ounce at Douglas Lake).
With 2nd place paying $25,000 and a win earning a $100,000 check, the single spot separating Myers and Pace from the top spot cost each angler a total of $150,000, not to mention an automatic Classic berth. Myers missed qualifying for his first Classic, finishing the year in 43rd place in the TTAOY standings. With an 18th place TTAOY finish, Pace qualified for his 5th Classic.