Five members of the Mossy Oak Fishing Team have placed themselves in the top 50 bass anglers that are about to begin fishing at the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship. Kevin VanDam, Jordan Lee, Ott DeFoe, Gerald Swindle and Brandon Palaniuk will all be in competition which begins Thursday.
Coming off of his second consecutive year winning the Bassmaster Bass Pro Shops Eastern Open and currently in 4th place for overall AOY, is Ott DeFoe. DeFoe will be casting with the primary focus to win the tournament and locking in his invitation to fish the 2019 Bassmaster Classic.
DeFoe explained, “Unless I sink my boat on the AOY tournament’s first day, I feel I’ve got a comfortable opportunity to fish in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic. Currently, I’m in fourth place for AOY. I possibly could finish third for the year, but the first and second place anglers are too far ahead of me in points for me to catch them.”
The 2017 Bassmaster AOY, Brandon Palaniuk will also be fishing on behalf of Mossy Oak’s Fishing Team. Palniuk explained:
“I actually didn’t know what position I was in for AOY until the final tournament on the St. Lawrence River. I’m in 10th position for Angler of the Year. Even if I win the AOY tournament, I still can’t move into first place. But I know if I catch one bass at this AOY tournament, I’ll make the roster for the Bassmasters Classic. My game plan is to go in and win the event, which should move me up in the rankings as much as is physically possible. Before this AOY tournament, I’m 83 points ahead of the 2019 Bassmaster Classic cut.
“One of the reasons I’m looking forward to fishing Lake Chatuge is because being from Idaho, I’ve fished deep, clear lakes most of my life. I also know Lake Chatuge has trout in it, and they’re a great forage food for bass. I expect to catch a mixed bag of both largemouths and spotted bass, although I’ll be targeting the largemouths.
“In deep, clear lakes like Chatuge, the bass are very sight-oriented, since they generally can see their baits before they attack. On this type of lake, I’ll fish with a wide variety of baits and cover water more quickly than I will in stained-water lakes. What surprises many anglers about deep, clear lakes is that sometimes the bass will go shallow, instead of deep, depending on available cover. I’ve actually seen largemouths in deep, clear lakes go shallow and hold in very thick cover, or they’ll move into any available shade where the water’s cooler. But this AOY tournament should be very interesting to all 50 of us who fish it.”
The Bassmaster Elite Series AOY Championship tournament kicks off on Thursday, September 20th in Hiawassee, GA on Lake Chatuge. Takeoff begins at 7:10 AM ET out of the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds located at 1311 Music Hall Rd, Hiawassee, Ga. 30546.
Mossy Oak Fishing will be giving away prizes to event attendees that visit their booth. Also, there will be Mossy Oak Fishing Pros in the booth throughout the event. The Mossy Oak Fishing Team, all leaders in the sport of bass fishing, Kevin VanDam, Jordan Lee, Ott DeFoe, Gerald Swindle and Brandon Palaniuk – will be on-site, fishing hard. Follow Mossy Oak Fishing’s Facebook page and Instagram page for live updates from the event and the anglers.
As part of the Mossy Oak Fishing Team, all team members will be wearing Mossy Oak’s pattern, Elements Agua. Mossy Oak launched Elements Agua at the ICAST show in July 2017. Elements Agua is the official pattern of B.A.S.S.
Tune into Bassmaster LIVE to watch live footage of tournament coverage and daily weigh-ins. LIVE times are 8-11, Noon-3pm ET on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. There is no fishing on Saturday.