Bassmaster Elite Series Finale, AOY Championship at Mille Lacs Lake

Top pro bass anglers will compete for more than $1 million in payouts and berths in the 2018 Classic during the 2017 Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship, Sept. 14-17

Bassmaster Elite Series Finale, AOY Championship at Mille Lacs Lake
Bassmaster Elite Series Finale, AOY Championship at Mille Lacs Lake

Referring to the $1 million Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship as simply a “fishing tournament” almost seems a little shortsighted.

It is, of course, a tournament with anglers fishing each day for the five biggest bass they can catch. But it’s about so much more than pounds and ounces caught during a three-day event.

The AOY Championship, which is scheduled for Sept. 14-17 on the smallmouth paradise of Mille Lacs Lake, is the culmination of the Bassmaster Elite Series season. A new Angler of the Year will be crowned, berths will be earned and solidified for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic and someone will likely leave brokenhearted after falling out of Classic contention.

The storylines will be plentiful, beginning with AOY points leader Brandon Palaniuk.


“I’ve been that middle-of-the-pack guy the past couple of years,” Palaniuk said. “In a way, it’s really a great spot to be in because you know if you just catch one 12-inch smallmouth, you’re going to the Classic.


“It’s great, but I wouldn’t trade it for the spot I’m in now.”

After a stellar season with six Top 12 finishes, including a victory at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Palaniuk is in position to win his first career AOY title with a good showing at Mille Lacs.

He leads Oklahoma angler Jason Christie by just 15 AOY points (811 to 796) — the tightest race in AOY Championship history. So, unlike those who may be fishing for one fish to guarantee their spot in the Classic, Palaniuk will be fishing as hard as he would in any other event.

“I’m hoping to catch 23 pounds a day,” he said. “If I can catch that much, I think I’ll have a chance to win the tournament — and if I win, everything else will take care of itself.”


Christie, who is fresh off a victory in the final regular season Elite, the Advance Auto Parts Bassmaster Elite at Lake St. Clair, wasn’t as specific about what he’s hoping to catch each day. But he said he feels a sense of calm going into the event.

“I’m looking for whatever it takes to help me finish 15 places ahead of Brandon Palaniuk,” Christie said. “That may not be possible, depending on what he does — and in a way, that keeps me from feeling any real pressure.

“Of course, I want to win. But no matter what happens, I know I’m in the Classic — and nothing bad can really come of it.”


The tournament is likely to be an eye-popping event for fans who enjoy seeing lots of giant smallmouth.

Mille Lacs, which has long been known as one of the finest walleye fisheries in the United States, burst onto the bass-fishing scene during last year’s AOY Championship. Minnesota angler Seth Feider had the biggest three-day catch during that event with daily five-bass limits weighing 25-8, 24-11 and 26-2 and totaling 76-5.

In July, Mille Lacs was named the No. 1 bass fishing lake in the country by Bassmaster Magazine.

“If it had been a four-day event, I think Seth Feider would have broken 100 pounds last year,” Palaniuk said. “That’s the kind of lake it is.”

Christie agreed.

“I went out and caught 21 pounds a day last year and finished in 18th place,” Christie said. “It’s just one of those places where you never know how much weight you’re going to need.”

The list of anglers on the Classic bubble include some of the biggest names in fishing — like California pros Ish Monroe and Skeet Reese and New Jersey superstar Michael Iaconelli.

Some of those who fail to make the Classic will have another chance the following week (Sept. 19-22) in the Bassmaster Classic Bracket on Pokegama Lake at Grand Rapids, Minn. That event will feature the first eight anglers in the AOY standings who failed to make the Classic in a one-on-one bracket-style competition, with the winner earning a Classic berth.

Takeoffs for the AOY Championship will be at 6:50 a.m. CT each day from Eddy's Resort. Weigh-ins will take place at 3:45 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Sunday at Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

On Saturday, all 50 anglers will take a break from tournament competition to participate in a special expo and conduct seminars for Bassmaster University.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

Minn Kota's Brad Henry shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead that there's much to like in the new Minn Kota Riptide Terrova saltwater trolling motor that comes with I-Pilot and an 87-inch shaft.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time. Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

See More Trending Articles

More News

In a controversial executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, boaters and anglers cannot use motorized boats through the end of April. Conservation & Politics

Motor Boats Not Permitted in Michigan — COVID-19

Lynn Burkhead - April 15, 2020

In a controversial executive order by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, boaters and anglers cannot use...

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is personally donating protective masks to medical workers across the U.S. News

BPS's Morris Donates 1 Million Masks: COVID-19

Lynn Burkhead - April 21, 2020

Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is personally donating protective masks to medical...

You may be self-distancing, but the outdoors is still open in many places. News

Mixed Signals on Fishing Possibilities in COVID-19 Crisis

Lynn Burkhead - March 27, 2020

You may be self-distancing, but the outdoors is still open in many places.

Conventional and fly-fishing worlds reel from spread of COVID-19. News

Coronavirus Crisis: Closures Impact B.A.S.S., Fly Events

Lynn Burkhead - March 16, 2020

Conventional and fly-fishing worlds reel from spread of COVID-19.

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now