But Reese was also a winner Sunday: His runner-up finish propelled him past Kevin VanDam and into the lead in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings. With three tournaments left in the 11-event Elite Series season, Reese is 12 points in front of VanDam in the battle for the $125,000 AOY title. The top 50 anglers will share in a total purse of $601,000.
Horton collected $109,000 Sunday. Fishing fans can watch all the action of the Champion’s Choice presented by Toyota Tundra on The Bassmasters Saturday, July 21, at 9 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
Horton, who entered the final day with a 10-pound lead, made a 90-minute run south on Lake Champlain after the 5:40 a.m. launch and was back at the Plattsburgh, N.Y. Boat Basin by 10 a.m., well ahead of his scheduled check-in time of 3:15 p.m. With a five-fish limit of 19 pounds, 4 ounces of largemouth bass boated in one hour of fishing, he decided to play it safe and get back to the dock.
“I knew a 30-pound bag was virtually impossible,” said Horton, the 2000 Bassmaster Angler of the Year who scored the fourth BASS win of his career on Sunday. “I’ve never come in early like that before, but I thought about it and one thing I was really worried about was the wind getting up and not being able to get back in.”
Horton said all his fish were caught on a Booyah Football Head jig. He said he managed his best spots on the massive lake over the three previous days and saved his most productive spot for Sunday.
“I fished for an hour and that was absolutely the most unbelievable hour I’ve ever had,” he said. “I wish everybody who enjoys fishing could have a chance to hit a spot like that. It was incredible and was like experiencing fishing for the first time. It was total bliss.”
Reese, who was in fourth place entering the final day, boated the largest weight of the final day — 20 pounds, 4 ounces — to finish second. He said he caught all of his fish Sunday cranking a Lucky Craft BDS 3 on the outside edge of grass.
“I found a school the second day of the tournament and I didn’t know what I had found,” said Reese. “I found out a little bit more (Saturday) and I caught 17 pounds off of it, but I didn’t start on it until later. So I started on that school (Sunday) and I caught 20 pounds. When you got around them, they let you know. It was fun.”
He said he plans to take the Angler of the Year race one day at a time over the final three tournaments.
“That’s all I can do,” he added. “There’s still 12 days of competition left and I hope I fish all 12 days. My ultimate goal in tournament fishing is to achieve that title. I hope I’m able to get it.”
Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., who led the first day and held second place Friday and Saturday, finished third with 68 pounds, 13 ounces. Tommy Biffle of Wagoner, Okla., was fourth with 68 pounds, 11 ounces; and Cliff Pace of Petal, Miss., rounded out the top five with 67 pounds, 2 ounces.
The next Bassmaster Elite Series tournament is July 19-22 on Lake Erie and the Niagara River out of Buffalo, N.Y.
Fishing fans can watch live, streaming video of all Elite Series weigh-ins at www.ESPNOutdoors.com. On the final day of competition, fans can also monitor www.ESPNOutdoors.com throughout the day for live updates and Hooked Up with Tommy Sanders and ESPN Outdoors personality Mark Zona.
Local sponsors: Local sponsors include city of Plattsburgh.
Bassmaster Elite Series sponsors: Sponsors of the Bassmaster Elite Series include Toyota Tundra, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Evan Williams Bourbon, Ramada Worldwide and Costa Del Mar.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com. Visit www.espnmediazone.com for ESPN's latest releases, schedules and other news, plus photos, video and audio clips and more.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning 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 bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates 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.