CELEBRATION, Fla. With just one Bassmaster Elite Series event to go, Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., has stretched his lead to 107 points ahead of Michigan's Kevin VanDam in the season-long points race for the 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year crown, which boasts a $125,000 prize.
Reese, who now has 2,579 points, opened a sizable lead last weekend with 320 points for his wire-to-wire victory in the Bassmaster Elite Series Capitol Clash presented by Advance Auto Parts. For his 21st-place finish in the same event, VanDam scored 233 points.
"As long as I've got a mathematical chance going into Florida, you never know what can happen," VanDam said. "You just never know. Lightning may strike."
VanDam, a two-time Bassmaster Classic winner, is looking for his fourth AOY title to add to those he captured in 1992, 1996 and 1999. Reese is aiming for his first AOY honor.
As he accepted the Capitol Clash trophy Aug. 12 for his first Elite win, Reese had an eye on the next prize.
"I've got one other goal in mind and it's the crown jewel of bass fishing as far as I'm concerned and that's the Angler of the Year title. I want the trophy and the title, because to me that means everything," Reese said.
POSSIBLE CAREER CHANGE FOR YELEY?
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver J.J. Yeley is apparently a fan of The Bassmasters, which airs Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2. During Sunday's ESPN telecast of the NASCAR event at Watkins Glen, N.Y., Yeley was asked about his driving plans for 2008 and made a reference to the program and to the touring Bassmaster Elite Series pros. He drives for the team owned by Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs but will be departing the organization at the end of the season.
"Right now I have some good options," said Yeley to ESPN pit reporter Mike Massaro. "Obviously there are some good teams that are going to be available in NASCAR, some IRL teams are looking for drivers, and I have a couple of contacts in the NHRA. I was watching fishing yesterday on ESPN and you'd be surprised what those guys make, so fishing is an option, too. In all seriousness, I love NASCAR and this is where I want to be."
The Bassmaster Majors event this month in Arkansas, with a top prize of $250,000, marks the 40th anniversary of the first BASS tournament.
Held on Arkansas' Beaver Lake in 1967, the Bassmaster All-American was the first tournament organized by BASS founder Ray Scott.
Scott, who plans to be in attendance next week to help celebrate the 40th year of BASS competitions, is the legendary namesake for the Aug. 23-26 Majors event, the Bassmaster Legends presented by Ramada Worldwide, on Lake Dardenelle out of Russellville.
"I'm glad to be going back to Arkansas. It brings on a flood of memories," said Scott, who founded Bassmaster Magazine. "While the first tournament was in 1967, BASS the organization was born in January 1968. Don Butler was the first to join and we were off on the adventure that grew into the BASS of today."
GET YOUR GOAT.
Jeff Kriet had been gone so many weeks competing on the Bassmaster Elite Series circuit that the lawn of his Ardmore, Okla., home had grown waist-high. Kriet said his wife, Stephanie, claimed she couldn't start the riding lawnmower. She suggested to Kriet that she buy a goat to handle the lawn maintenance.
And she did two of them. The Kriets named the goats after BASS Tournament Department officials Trip Weldon and Chuck Harbin.
When interviewed Sunday by Hooked Up hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona, Weldon said his namesake was "a good-looking goat."
Hooked Up, a live show on www.ESPNOutdoors.com, airs before the final-day weigh-ins of Bassmaster Elite Series events.
YOU GO, GIRLS.
The five fish weighed 13 pounds, 9 ounces, the site was the Potomac River, the date was Aug. 12 but the tournament winner wasn't a Bassmaster Elite Series pro.
The winner was a team of two 12-year-old Californians guided by Elite Series pro Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., in a special competition conducted by the Future Fisherman Foundation and BASS in conjunction with the Capitol Clash presented by Advance Auto Parts.
Kennedy was one of 11 volunteers who served as guides to five girls and 16 boys from Boys & Girls Club chapters from eight states. Participants earned the right to make the trip through their local club.
Suzette Martinez and Ingrid Camberos of the Boys & Girls Club in South Bay, Calif., hauled in the winning weight to capture the first prize a tournament shirt autographed by Elite pros.
Besides Kennedy, nine other Bassmaster Elite Series pros volunteered to guide the kids: Kevin VanDam, Kurt Dove, Ben Matsubu, Rick Morris, Dave Wolak, James Charlesworth, Peter Thliveros, James Kennedy and Jim Murray. Chad King of the Maryland BASS Federation Nation also served as a guide.
The FFF is the nonprofit angling recruitment and education organization for the American Sportfishing Association, based in Alexandria, Va.
Speaking of Reese, on Thursday the Bassmaster Elite Series pro became the 21st angler to join the BASS Millionaires Club.
His BASS career earnings pushed past $1 million with his $10,000 Berkley Heavyweight bonus for weighing in the biggest bag 20 pounds, 5 ounces at the Capitol Clash presented by Advance Auto Parts on the Potomac River.
The same day he became a member of the BASS Millionaires Club, Reese was featured in a Washington Post article. Reese told the Post how the myriad angling waters of his home state of California made him a more versatile angler: "It's been one of my biggest assets because everywhere we go, I find something that meets my style."
Reese was the fourth Elite pro this season to hit the $1 million mark.
Country recording artist Brad Cotter will perform Aug. 25-26 during the final two days of the Bassmaster Legends presented by Ramada Worldwide in Russellville, Ark.
Cotter will take the stage each day at 2 p.m. CT before Bassmaster Elite Series pros weigh in their Lake Dardanelle catches at 6 p.m.
The Cotter concert is free and open to the public, as are all Legends spectator events.
CLUNN ON REESE.
"Skeet is in what Joseph Campbell would call 'the bliss state' everything he does is right, every move he makes is right, and he's fishing incredibly well. ... He's just making all the right decisions." Bassmaster Elite Series pro and four-time Bassmaster Classic winner Rick Clunn of Ava., Mo., referring to mythologist and author Campbell while commenting on Capitol Clash winner Skeet Reese
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BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, staging more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages and sanctions bass fishing tournaments for every skill level culminating with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry's widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.