Skip to main content

AOY On Line At Oneida

Top three in points battle it out in season finale of Bassmaster Elite Series

AOY On Line At Oneida
AOY On Line At Oneida

No one would blame Brent Chapman, Ott DeFoe or Todd Faircloth for wishing that the Bassmaster Elite Series season finale on New York’s Oneida Lake would just get started.

The three pros were champing at the bit for the Thursday-Sunday Ramada Championship out of Syracuse, N.Y., to begin. That’s where the 2012 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title will be decided, and they’re the Top 3 in contention.

The race is the tightest in years. Chapman leads, DeFoe trails by only 13 points, and Faircloth is 20 points behind Chapman. If all three choked, someone else — say, Terry Scroggins in fourth place with a 39-point deficit — could move up to take the crown and its $100,000 prize.

The AOY competition promises to be the biggest show at Oneida, but it won’t be the event’s only showdown. Bassmaster Classic berths for 2013 will be fought for, won and lost. The Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race will cross the finish line. And eight qualifiers for Toyota Trucks All-Star Week in September will be determined.


A date in September is what Dean Rojas is after. Ranked 10th in points, Rojas virtually owns a Classic spot already, but a postseason entry is iffy. Rojas goes into Oneida 18 points out of the No. 8 spot on the Angler of the Year list, the cutoff for automatic qualification for the event.


Four additional pros will be added to the All-Star roster by fans voting online at Bassmaster.com, but Rojas said he’d prefer to be among the group of eight.

“I’d rather earn my way in,” said Rojas. “I think it’s within reach.”

His Oneida credentials give him a long arm: He won the 2008 Elite event on Oneida, and finished third when the Elite field returned in 2009. He was successful in both trips with shallow-water frog and plastics patterns. Targeting the lake’s largemouth paid off big back then, but he contends that he hasn’t eliminated a smallmouth strategy from his 2012 game plan.

“The lake has big largemouth, but a lot of big smallmouth, too. You have to keep an open mind because largemouth might not be the winning pattern this time,” said Rojas. “I have to be tactical about how I approach the lake.”


Like Rojas, Bill Lowen is hoping to land his first postseason berth. A qualification is especially important to Lowen because the All-Star competition will be on Lake Shelbyville and Decatur Lake out of Decatur, Ill. Lowen lives in Brookville, Ind., about four hours away. The chance to be in a high-profile tournament close to home is added pressure to do well at Oneida.

“I’d like to say that it’s not on my mind, but naturally it is,” he said. “I’m going to try to fish like I’ve done all year and hope to qualify.”

Lowen definitely wants to improve on his poor Oneida showing in 2009. Then, as it is this season, the Oneida stop was the finale. Lowen was several points away from a 2010 Bassmaster Classic qualification, so he had to turn in a top performance.


The first few hours went well, and he was 14 pounds to the good. Suddenly he realized he had six fish, not the regulation five, swimming under his livewell lids. He immediately tossed back one bass, then called tournament officials to report his miscount. But the rules at the time stipulated that tournament officials had to perform a sixth-fish cull, so Lowen’s entire first-day weight was disqualified.

He finished the event in last place, falling about 20 points out of Bassmaster Classic qualification. It was a big hit to his season and his career.

“It doesn’t haunt me now,” he said. “Maybe things happen for a reason. I’ve noticed that I’m a lot more cautious with culling, and I pay more attention now.”

Unlike in 2009, Lowen can rest easy about a Classic berth. He’s a shoo-in for 2013. But for the majority of the Elite field, a Classic berth is high on the Oneida wish list. The first 28 pros in points after Oneida will automatically be awarded a Classic berth. Then more Elite pros will be added to the Classic field because several pros qualified multiple times, pushing the cut-line further down the points list.

Among those floating on either side of the bubble going into Oneida are Michael Iaconelli, Marty Robinson, Keith Combs, Andy Montgomery, Mike McClelland, Jamie Horton and Britt Myers.

Tommy Biffle, also riding the bubble, is in a unique position. He’s been in 17 Classic competitions — but not 2012’s. To skip it again, when the Classic will be on Grand Lake in his home state of Oklahoma, would mean heartache.

If he misses his Oneida shot, he’d have one more chance through the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open’s “win-and-you’re-in” rule. The event will be on his home lake, Fort Gibson. He won an Elite event there in 2011 (and, in the same year, an Open on the Arkansas River near his home).

“But I want to get it done on Oneida,” said Biffle.

His Oneida history is strong and consistent: a win in 2006, 15th in 2007, 16th in 2008 and eighth place in 2009. He’s done well targeting largemouth, often the winning pattern in Elite events on Oneida, but he might end up chasing smallmouth instead.

“There’s going to be a time when there’s enough of us fishing for largemouth that there won’t be as many big ones to go around, and the smallmouth will win,” Biffle said. “I’ll stick with whatever will get me into the Classic.”

For the Elite pros low on the points list, the “win-and-you’re-in rule” is the only door still open to the 2013 Classic. Also carrying a $100,000 first prize, the Oneida event title is on the wish lists of all 97 Elite pros.

The Ramada Championship will receive all-out coverage on Bassmaster.com. Onsite, fans are invited to watch the morning launches and weigh-ins in the afternoon.

The pros will launch their boats at Oneida Shores Park in Brewerton, N.Y., at 7 a.m., Aug. 23-24, and at 6:30 a.m., Aug. 25-26. The first two days, the weigh-ins will be at the park beginning at 4 p.m.

On the two final days, Aug. 25 and 26, the action will shift to the infield at The Great New York State Fair in Syracuse. The family-friendly Bassmaster Elite Series Expo will open at noon. The weigh-ins on Saturday and Sunday will begin at 4 p.m. During the tournament, the Angler of the Year will be crowned.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

Catch More Bass on a Jerkbait in the Cooler Months

This one simple trick will trigger more bass strikes on a jerkbait during the fall months.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Hunting Elk with the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter in 6.5 PRC

Michael Cassidy and Paul Pluff talk about their elk hunt in New Mexico using the Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Hunter.

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Understanding Reel Retrieve Ratios and How it Affects Lure Presentations

Increase a lure’s effectiveness by pairing it with the ideal reel speed.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing.Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

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.How to Catch Catfish Day and Night 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...

With the Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system, anglers have ultimate kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and the ability to move their boat in any direction desiredAmazing Kayak Power and Control: Hobie's MirageDrive 360 Propulsion System Other Fishing

Amazing Kayak Power and Control: Hobie's MirageDrive 360 Propulsion System

OSG Editorial Staff - November 01, 2020

With the Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system, anglers have ultimate kayak control...

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to the expectations demanded at ranges up to and beyond 500, 600 or even 1,000 yards. Try these different loads until you find the one that thumps steel at long ranges consistently.10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made Ammo

10 Best Long-Range Rifle Cartridges Ever Made

David Hart - January 14, 2015

Want to test the outer limits of your shooting skill? You'll need a cartridge that lives up to...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will combine the top two hunting and fishing retailers in the United StatesBass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal Stories

Bass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal

Abhijith Ganapavaram and Sruthi Shankar

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will...

Editor's Note: Our popular Camera Corner features reader photos and stories from successfulPamela's Story: A Memorable Fly Fishing Encounter Stories

Pamela's Story: A Memorable Fly Fishing Encounter

April 28, 2017

Editor's Note: Our popular Camera Corner features reader photos and stories from successful

Actions speak louder than words when sharing the passion for hunting, fishing and the outdoors.Outdoors Perspective: The Power of Paying Forward Stories

Outdoors Perspective: The Power of Paying Forward

Keith Sutton - November 12, 2018

Actions speak louder than words when sharing the passion for hunting, fishing and the outdoors.

As wintertime takes hold, power plant lake bass fishing heats up for anglers that focus on a lake's optimal water temperatures.For Wintertime Power Plant Bass Lakes, Water Temperature is Key Stories

For Wintertime Power Plant Bass Lakes, Water Temperature is Key

Lynn Burkhead, OSG Senior Digital Editor

As wintertime takes hold, power plant lake bass fishing heats up for anglers that focus on a...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

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