What started out as a mere Honor Roll for California bass fishermen some 15 years ago has turned into an exercise in sleep deprivation. The California Top 40 Bass Angler’s List brings both satisfaction and its share of aggravation for me and members of the crack Bass Angler Assessment Team (BAAT) as we tried to piece together this worthy list.

And I blame the 200 or so candidates under consideration. Even among the top pros, the 2010 season had its share of ups and downs: major successes but also huge letdowns. Then throw in everything from injuries to polygraphs to residency disputes (this is the California Top 40, remember) and we’ve done more back-tracking than Lewis and Clark.

But also remember the list is a living thing–not a museum. Changes in how we assess angler quality have led to some surprises. Problems with FLW’s handling of co-anglering actually led to the BAAT’s closer scrutiny of those competitors and the success they have achieved without boat control.

But when you come right down to it, there was no way to deny Auburn’s Skeet Reese his narrow, but rightful spot as this year’s top pick. Two Elite Series wins for regular season B.A.S.S. points leader, and the continued no. 1 standing in the Bassfan.com World Rankings were enough to edge Redlands’ Brent Ehrler, who led the National Guard race in the West, and a finished in the top 5 on the FLW Tour, winning in both circuits.

And how close was it? You know that gap in a split ring?

SKEET No. 1

Still, there are lots of other names we want to recognize. Take a look and see what you think:

1. Skeet Reese, Auburn–A family man with personality (a full quota, at that) but as intense a competitor as there is in the sport.

BRENT EHRLER, No. 2

2. Brent Ehrler, Redlands–A great observer who makes fluid decisions on the water and who seems at home on every lake.

3- Cody Meyer, Grass Valley–I hate to admit it, but this is the latest super star to emerge from Northern California.

4-Ish Monroe, Hughson–Leaner, but not necessarily meaner, Ish seemed more relaxed this year and he was whacking him all over the country.

5-Rusty Salewske, Alpine–Is this the best California bass fisherman that nobody knows about? No glitter, but he’s a star.

6. Bill Siemantel, Castaic–Like it or not, before he’s done he’ll be recognized as one of the iconic figures in the sport. And I’m not lying.

7. Robert Lee, Angels Camp–One of those natural fishermen who catches them in critical situations on the biggest stage.

8. Jon Strelic, El Cajon–Here is another low-key pro who just ends up near the top of the standings. And it runs in the family; one day his son Wade may join him on the list.

9. Chris Zaldain, San Jose–We saw this guy was special several seasons back and now he is one of the very best in the Golden State.

10. Paul Bailey, Willits–A fast learner with unbounded energy, he took two AOY titles (Overall & north) in WON Bass, and he beat a future Hall of Famer on the way.

11. Mike Folkestad, Yorba Linda–Tough one with a puzzling body of work. For the only 3-time U.S. Open winner, there were a couple of Angler of the Year titles, a couple of tour wins, and then the now-famous blanko in the Forrest Wood Cup. One of those things was a fluke.

12. Mike Phua, Chino–This is a very good angler (team or otherwise) who showed he can win regardless of his partner.

13. Rick Grover, Santa Margarita–Here’s recognition that is long overdue. (And I know what you’re going to ask about his son Kyle.) But fishing know-how is like water–it runs downstream.

14. Jeff Michels, Lakehead–We liked this guy the first-time we saw him in action, but his 5th place in the National Guard Series was all we needed to know this year.

15. Matt Allen, Vacaville–A savvy big bass guy who is not a maniac. It’s kind of refreshing.

16. Bret Gouvea, Redding–An impressive NorCal veteran who keeps getting better.

17. Gregg Silks, Hemet–Is there a special category for guides, trollers, live bait and big bait fishermen who also make their own lures? No. That’s why he’s here.

18. Dick Watson, Alta Loma–Another experienced angler who’s time has come. A near U.S. Open winner and close WON Bass AOY challenger, it’s his debut on the list.

19. Bub Tosh, Modesto–We’re told he’s not everyone’s favorite fourth for bridge, but he’s got a puncher’s chance of winning any Delta contest.

20. Joe Everett, Mission Viejo–By his own accounts, the unabashed best angler on Lake Mission Viejo. But we watched him in action close-up. This is no ordinary fisherman and those 17 pounders are real.

21. Jason Milligan, Shasta Lake–This guy gets great marks from his peers and co-anglers. Plus, his 11th place in National Guard (8th best among Californians) looks good, too.

22. Dee Thomas, Bentwood–More than just an honorarium, he was right there in the Anglers Choice points chase. Nobody else on a respirator is doing that.

23. Darrin Bishop, Paso Robles–The problem with publicity for this guy in San Luis Obispo County? They think a flashlight is “the spotlight.”

24. Greg Gutierrez, Red Bluff–Some family health issues behind him, it looks like the fireman is starting to fire-up.

25. Mike Andrews, Oakley–Injury riddled, the exact placement on the list was in dispute. But he belongs.

26. JR Wright, Truckee–Had to fire three guys on the BAAT team for missing this guy’s co-angler track record. He can fish.

27. Kevin Hawk, Ramona–Nobody won more money than this guy (what half a mil at the Forrest Wood Cup?) We’d have felt better if he hadn’t blanked on the very next outing.

28. Tom Leedom, Fallbrook–Highly respected in San Diego County, it will be a matter of means and opportunity that could push him into the public eye.

29. Jimmy Zanotelli, Redding–Too young and inexperienced to make the list? It wasn’t a problem when he earned the co-anglering AOY for National Guard.

30. Jimmy Reese, Witter Springs–He’s probably better than this in 2010, but we gave him a pass last year. So sue me.

31. Joe Uribe, Jr. Lake Forest–Proving size limits do not refer to the competitors, “Little Joe” is a pro.

32. Gary Dobyns, Yuba City–A real puzzler this year with little statistical support. In the end, we used the old sports cliche: “You can’t lose your starting job to injury.”

33. Randy McAbee, Bakersfield–I thought this guy was dead, and then I saw him at ICAST or somewhere. A quiet year, but a great talent.

34. John Kerr, Ramona–Privy to some documented, but under-publicized catches, I can tell you, this former U.S. Open winner has not lost a step.

35. Guy Williams, Menifee–Not just a superb co-anglering campaign in FLW, but in teams and Top Stix he made an impression. Expect more.

36. Michael Tuck, Antelope–Not his best season (15th in NG) but remains a tough customer in competition.

37. Kevin Johnson, Valencia–If he could avoid the bad finish, I think this guy has top 10 ability.

38. Zack Thompson, Orinda–If we passed out one cookie this year, this is it. I just think his 26th in National Guard and awful FLW Tour numbers are misleading.

39. Mike Brakebill, Reseda–Sometimes you just have to recognize skill in its own realm–and leave it at that.

40. Dugan McIntosh, Palermo–Winning out over a ton of other worthy candidates, the final spot goes to a first-timer on the big list. And he probably didn’t know we were watching.

 




35 Responses to “Skeet, Ehrler excel in heading 2010 ‘Top 40’”


Great read as always, George. Sorry to hear you had to fire so many guys this year. Lol

Great to see this San Diego “local” make the list….Well deserved Leedom!

Awesome! Thanks for putting me on after my season off. I hope to make 2011 in the top 10.

Wow, now Kyle will really fish hard! Thanks, George. Rick G.

I’d like to see Kyle and Will Rakowitz. They dominate DVL. Very happy to see Phua. He’s always been a tough competitor and he’s a great guy. Why not Pat Keniry. He’s insane when it’s his bite! Do I sense a little Elsinore racism??? lol

Thanks George! Its an honor to have made the list for 2010.

How does Rick make it and no Kyle? Kyle usually fishes alone. We all know its Jason with all the brains for Williams and Chang. Oh, and Phua please. We know the brains in that team. It’s always fun seeing this come out each year. Little Joe should of been ranked higher and Justin left. One more thing. Santa called me and asked when little Joe was going to show up for work.

What about Mike Long?

Thank you, George! That really means a lot! # 20 in 2010 that’s awesome!

What, no John Morrow? Come on now! 🙂

Always a good read George:)! I agree with Kevin Linehan though; what about Mike Long? I guess if you have a “slow year” and only catch 6 or so over 15 pounds and can only get one over 19; it’s just not good enough! hahaha LMAO :)~

Great job on the San Diego kings, Salewske and Strelic, quiet and very deadly!!!!

Allot of names looked over I can think of a few Richard Dobyns, Mike Long, Zach Thompson, Preston Henson just to name a few I know these guys deserve to be up there over some

Where is Mark Daniels?? Do some DELTA research!!! YEEEEEE TEEEEEE DEEEEEE!!!!!

Come on Jason, I hooked 3 and landed 2 at the CBC regionals at Elsinore! That alone is worth a top 15! You are to Guy what kyle is to me———-Grasshopper!lol

Grover 13th?! I thought he retired? Oh, that was me. Well, I taught him and Siemantel everything they know. Always a fun read Kramer!!

George – Great list as always and no matter what there are probably 100 people left off the list that COULD be on it.

It is nice to see some names on the list that aren’t as popular as others like – Darrin Bishop, Zanotelli etc.

I am biased but, I think Dale Ball earned a spot on it with his win over 499 other entrants (11 off this top 40 list) in the CBC on several bodies of water and several other nice tournament finishes. He also owns a big stringer record for Clear Lake.

Jared Lintner, Richard Dobyns, RJ Bennett and Sean Stafford all stick out a little further to me as potential names for the list.

Oh yeah, Mr. Mike Long as well… Heard through the grapevine he landed a 60 Lb cat today on a Rago Rat.

Tom Leedom is a great choice for the list. May not see his name in print too often, but definately a serious competitor and a great guy. Good job in recognizing one of the strongest San Diego sticks this year George. Way to go Tom! well deserved.

Thanks for the spot George! Truly an honor!!

Whoever made up this list and did not include the most dominant bass fisherman on the California Delta this past year is a freaking joke! Get a clue! Mark Daniels Jr. has consistently and repeatedly beaten more than half the guys on you top 40 list week after week last year. To not even make this list is a crime! Mark was the Angler of the Year on multiple circuits in the same season and he does not even get mentioned on your Top 40 list. But what else is new in bay area bass fishing? All Mark Daniels Jr. did this year is kick butt every weekend! Cashing checks in almost every tournament he fished this past season. And so far this season, He won the first AC tournament of this new year. And still no mention in the Top 40? All those use to be’s and has been’s on this list are not even in his class! Mark is a great guy, an even greater fisherman and awesome BANC member!

Thanks for the input, Kerry. (And I understand, nobody likes to finish in 41st place on this list.) If your man can keep it rolling–maybe even step up to a bigger stage next year–he’ll get his due.

by Jonathan Ashcraft

George,

It’s always great to go through this list for the year, the attention you bring to anglers through controversy or publishing is a talent that you bring to your reports.

by Mark Daniels SR

As a very proud father of one of the nicest young men you would ever want to meet (and a TRUE STICK)I must say after learning the news that my son did not make George’s list it was a little disturbing to me to say the least. After Mark’s outstanding season in 2010 with 4 not 3 but 4 AOY in one year one would think that that in itself may get him on anyone’s list. That is one heck of an accomplishment. Has anyone else done that this year or any other year for that matter? If so I would like to know who that was. Those where all on the Delta one of the most challenging bodies of water in the state (if not the country) but don’t get it twisted Mark fishes everywhere there’s water and does very well 90% of the time. Ask his competitors… I personally think that there was an error made in this case and the fishing community agrees. There is not enough room to go into Mark resume for 2010 but his accomplishments speak louder than anyone’s list. On a final note I think that Mark has gotten more recognition by not making George’s list then he every would have gotten by making George’s list. If you did not Know who Mark Daniels Jr. was prior to the list I am sure you know who he is now. That guy the fishing community is talking about. Great job, son and keep up the outstanding work.
–Pops

Mr. Daniels, you are quite right about your son’s spike in attention. That’s how the list works. You can thank me now, or you can thank me later. 🙂

by Mark Daniels SR

Being the gentleman that I am I choose to thank you now…… Thanks George

Great read George. Even the comments. As always! See ya all next year!

Great read as always Mr Kramer. My question to you is how could you leave the tag team of Kevin and Brian Linehan of wherever they claim to be from now-a-days off your list! Kevin has a cult following in the industry and Brian is the master of disaster or so I hear.

And ohhh Mike Long’s fish wasn’t as big as he thought it was. ONLY A 19.6 phhh!

by Mark Chief Torrez

Wow, Mr. Mike Long is not on this list. Just makes you go hummmm.This is like watching the college football ratings. lol. Well he should be and its sad to say that he is not. Keep getting them bass Mike, maybe you will make it next year or the the next or the next.Happy Holidays to all CHIEF

Great read..
Someday, I will make this list.. *I hope*

Hopefully you may make it before R. Shabbam is done roasting me… 😉

how about garage lure inventors

Don’t know, Jimmy. Before 1970, weren’t they pretty much all garage lure inventors?

Rod: You made my Top 40 rap artists of the year so keep your chin up bro! lol… (kidding around)

Fun report to read George. All these guys are awesome sticks!