He's the best one


How long of an introduction should I have here, before I lay out The List for 2013? What started as more of a historical tribute back in the mid 90’s has grown into a monster.

It’s still a tribute–but the stakes appear to have grown bigger than I imagined. I don’t think anything I’ll ever do with a word processor will ever have the impact of listing the Top 40 Bass Anglers in California.

But first, let me give a shout out to the trusted, but anonymous, consultants to whom I turn to track down the top candidates. Having lots of eyes and ears in the field is critical and have to thank the Bass Angler Assessment Team (BAAT) for adding insight.

In the end, though, I get to make the final choices. I also get what they euphemistically call, the “feedback.” Still, we’re comfortable with the list.

For one thing, tournament bass fishing, as you know, has deteriorated so much over the last couple of years that we actually had tour events cancelled. Almost unheard of. So with fewer pro-style events and smaller fields, competitive anglers were left with fewer opportunities to shine.

Sure, you’ll see a lot of recognizable names, but the truth is, we had our largest contingent of fishing guides make the list this year. Their standing is much in part to their clients’ success.

But when all the points, puzzles, penalties and pizzas were consumed, we could not get away from Jeff Michels from Lakehead. His 2013 Angler of the Year title in the Western Everstarts (against the equivalent of all the top tour pros in the West) was first rate. And while the list is based on annual success, it was pretty hard to overlook the fact, he was the Angler of the Year in 2012 as well!

So, no need to say anymore. Put your hands together for… Jeff Michels, first on list of California’s Top Bass Anglers!

And here’s the entire list:

  1. Jeff Michels, Lakehead—Everstart’s Angler of the Year for 2013 included success out of his zip code, which weighs heavily here. He’s number one.
  2. Ish Monroe, Hughson—Looking at things logically: 11th in the Bassmaster Elites and 30th in the FLW Tour, is an impressive resume among California bass chasers.
  3. Chris Zaldain, San Jose—A hero on top of the list two years ago, then smacked by reality last year. But Boom!—found a groove and became California’s highest finisher among the Bassmaster Elites in 2013.
  4. Brent Ehrler, Redlands—Highest finishing Golden-Stater on the FLW Tour—where he completes the most difficult assignment–to win an event almost every year. Any regrets from the BAAT? He hasn’t returned to the U.S. Open.
  5. Butch Brown, Castaic—Maybe down one spot from a year ago, but clearly identified as one of the best there is. Case in point, last year’s Bass-A-Thon where the crowd wouldn’t let him come off the stage.
  6. Cody Meyer, Auburn—As documented on Bassfan.com, his long, unbroken streak of daily tournament limits, plus being second among Californians on the FLW national tour place him here.
  7. Mark Daniels, Jr., Fairfield—Real quality here, and his win at the national TBF championship earned him entry fees for the 2014 FLW Tour—and the #7 spot on the Top 40 List.
  8. Oliver Ngy, Los Angeles—There are more and more guys dressed like ninjas out there, but when it comes to big bass catches, this guy might actually be a ninja.
  9. Skeet Reese, Auburn—Often found among the best of the Bassmasters, Skeet is among the top players there, and certainly among the best from the West.
  10. Miles Howe, San Clemente—Never can tell when a new name pops up on the screen. Was his remarkable season in the Everstarts a fluke, or could he be the Next Big Thing?
  11. Joe Uribe, Jr., Mission Viejo—No better representative for California bass fishing, not only as a tournament competitor but as a gentleman in the game.
  12. Rusty Brown, Tustin—Among a cadre of successful guides this year,  who also enjoyed a good tally on trophy bass. Oh, and there was that U.S. Open title in the desert.
  13. Jason Borofka, Salinas—Every time we think this guy is walking in quicksand, he busts a bag that would make Paul Bunyan jealous. Call him Lucky 13.
  14. Bill Siemantel, Castaic—If we added in all the “hate points” this guy generates he would probably make the “top 5.” But we say, don’t blame the messenger.
  15. Mike Saso, Elk Grove—I’ve never met this EverStart pro, but all I know is, every time they hold a tournament upstate, his name is near the top of the printout. It is here, too.
  16. Todd Holverson, San Diego—The boys may have felt slighted down San Diego way in the past, but fact is, the area is a hot bed for talent. A disciple of Salewske and Hite, this guy gets the nod as best in county for 2013.
  17. Tom Leedom, Fallbrook—Bad time to change jobs. His team season was a string of big bag wins, but missed the U.S. Open. A good finish there would have leapfrogged him up the ladder.
  18. Kevin Mattson, San Diego—Think of the concept of the “pure fisherman” who would cast for anything—but just his multi-lake big bass catches put him on the list for the first time.
  19. Stephen ‘Bub’ Tosh, Turlock—Put skill, power and reputation together and you get Bub Tosh.
  20. Jimmy Reese, Witter Springs—Not his best-ever year in the EverStarts, but with so many names falling off, Reese has held his place.
  21. Matt Allen, Vacaville—Adding guiding to his resume and putting clients on some trophy class fish earned this guy another spot as a top California bass hunter.
  22. Ricky Shabazz, Rialto—For this guy, potential finally reached expectations on the Everstart Series, so here’s another first-timer on the List.
  23. Tom Lowery, San Diego—Another victim of job change, but still right in the middle of the Top 40 rankings.  Guiding and tournament success are both recognized here.
  24. Bryant Smith, Castro Valley—The lack of several viable tournament circuits is not this young pro’s fault. He’s still first-rate.
  25. Ken Mah, Elk Grove—Another well-liked, bass fishing ambassadeur, who probably should have been on the list a lot sooner.
  26. Howard Hughes, Redding—He’s more than a Clear Lake Open champ. Well, we keep thinking he might be that Howard Hughes.
  27. Guy Williams, Menifee—No disrespect to his team partner, but Williams stands on his own, or at least he did, before numerous surgeries took him down.
  28. Andy Cuccia, Oakley—For a guide/educator who got his boat stolen and was still able to finesse a season-topping 16 pounder, we had to give props.
  29. Bobby Barrack, Oakley—A bit of a crusader lately, but still a force throughout the Delta, and one willing to share his knowledge.
  30. Todd Kline, San Clemente—Just goes to show, we pay attention to the catch-your-own-fish co-anglers. This guy was Everstart’s AOY in that capacity.
  31. Eric Elshere, Camarillo—A skilled young angler near Lake Casitas who would love to break out on a bigger stage. For now, his record is good enough.
  32. Billy Egan, San Clemente—We tend to think of this guy as the “circus ringmaster” on the WON Bass microphone, but his big bait knowledge and big bass catches earn him a first-timer spot.
  33. Joe Everett, Mission Viejo—Don’t want to diminish this guy’s proven skills, but a three-month record on a private lake doesn’t have the same impact as the guys who fish year-round.
  34. Justin Hanold, Poway—Could argue this is a bit low for this tourney-minded angler, but he deserved a spot somewhere.
  35. Kyle Grover, Rancho Margarita—Hard to figure out empirically when Travelers circuits provide an uneven playing field. The nod here is for the “eye test.” What we see with our eyes is quality.
  36. Garrett Lorenzen, Fallbrook—Not a big season for him, but a solid one. With sponsorships in hand, he heads for B.A.S.S. in 2014.
  37. Pete Marino, Moreno Valley—Tournament guys must produce at the scheduled events, but the busiest guides, like this guy, must produce every weekend.
  38. Art Hill, Temecula—Another sharp guide to make the list. That he’s highly sought-after in the lower part of the state says all we needed to know.
  39. Gary Robson, Riverside—Here’s where fitness and experience have led to a three-year surge to put the cabinet-maker on The List.
  40. David Valdivia, Long Beach—Here’s a guy who’s been building up to the upper echelon of California bass fishermen. Glad he made it, cause we’re not 100 percent sure of his hometown.



35 Responses to “California’s Golden List: Top 40 Bass Anglers”

Great list George! We really do (well I know I do) wait for this list each year. Congrats to Miles for the 10th place spot on the list, he worked his butt off this year.

This should do a good job pissing some people off. Some well deserved names, some, well, not so deserving. Bottom line, another year of starting some s%#t.

Well….i was looking forward to seeing some fresh blood this year, as this year was a change in faces. Yet i see many names the same with WAY less results. Boring really…:/

I always look forward to this list. I love that someone actually cares enough to do a ranking and write something down.

Rationale for putting Zaldain above Ehrler? They both finished 8th in AoY points and Brent had a win.

Thanks for the recognition George. Always an honor!

Thanks for the inclusion of the list GK and more so am honored to know many anglers on the list that I consider my friends.

I wonder how many hits the site will get the next few days. Way to bump up the site traffic!

Well…I just posted the “List Release Announcement” on WesternBass so I’m sure there will be plenty of spirited debate over there too. http://www.westernbass.com/forum/kramer-top-list-out-t86659.html

Jeff Michels Official Facebook Page:


In all my years of reading this list, I must say you have definitely out done yourself this year George!

Ton of new blood on the list!

Miles is a stick glad to see him get his due.

Oliver has been under the radar, must be his ninja skills, for a long time

Kevin also another guy whom I have a ton of respect. Been a monster in SD for awhile and now getting his due.

Kliney about time he gave up the microphone for some rods. Now if we could just get him from dating Kevin Linehan we’d be okay

George Kramer I think I like you, You like me may have too much time on your hands, But George you keep me laughing, I’ll being looking forward to next year’s list until then this should hold me over for the year.

George, thank you for your service.
Unless you start counting how many great photos were made on the water, along with how many ‘almost dd’s landed’ but got off at the boat or got stuck in the tulles, I’ll never make it! And that’s ok, as it’s the fun, yet challenge, of this great sport that makes it so addictive. Keeping up on stuff like this is just ‘bonus material’. That and meeting so many nice folks that share my/your/our enthusiasm.

Thanks for putting me on the list again this year, George.. As I said to you in 2011 when I was last on the list…”I’m humbled and Grateful”…thank you, sir!!

Man George, I don’t know how you do it. This year especially. As always, my hat’s off to you and the anglers that made it. Now, back to work gk!! 🙂

I want to start my own list of ten worst sport writers!!
1. Kramer
3.same as number 1
Shouldn’t you have to win some money to make the list???
Just my opinion!

Rummy, you must be new in the neighborhood. Winnings are not and have never been a part of the criteria here.

Then how do figure California top 40 heha

It’s a secret. 😉

No secret on how u made the list. Controversy the only way to get attention yea?

by Derrek Stewart

So glad this list is up. Now we can get back to the Elsinore reports.

Good job George. Not sure how you do it each year, but its always worth the read. Congrats to the SD guys on the list, more on you here;

Congrats to the top 40. Thanks for your efforts on this George. Always a fan.

How can Butch Brown even make any part of a list, catching bass out of a 90 acre pond that guys like Bob Crupi, Danny Kota, Gary Harrison, and many others stocked year after year that they caught at the upper lake and dumped into the Lagoon, since the trout truck doesn’t stop there anymore he hasn’t caught a fish over 8 pounds since 2010…
Go fish some real lakes and see how Sakio Butch does .

If everyone agreed with me, why have a list? But some do:

by Bill Egan (#2)

Congratulations Son

I appreciate the recognition on your list!

Great list George. You are the man. You need to start up your “on the spot” fishing column again. Using some of these guys as partners.

Great write up, George. I sure don’t agree with it 100% but I’m glad it finally hit the press. Thanks, Big Ed!

Thanks, Big Ed. The truth be told, a week or so after I send it out, I don’t agree with it 100 percent! 😉

Great list George and excellent choice for Number One. Guess Skeet will have to win the Classic to climb past the qualifiers on points ranked above him. Still pretty cool how many ex-Cali anglers and those who still maintain addresses are in the big event. List a little heavy on SoCal, too — including a guy who makes a grand on FLW and another who you beat in the U.S. Open. Finally,and excuse me for treading too heavily on your turf if that’s the case, I want to cast a vote for geographically challenged Clifford Pirch of Arizona. His track record in the U.S. Open the last handful of years to go along with general national excellence gives him my nod for Best in the West. His last day weight at Mead was one of the most impressive I can remember.

Its a Ca top 40 not a Western Top 40, Rich. There are lots of great anglers in the region I agree. As far as Butch Brown, not a better overall fisherman in the state IMO, and I don’t care big lake, small pond, long range, golf course you name it, he is the man.

I know Rick, that’s why I called him geographically challenged. Agree on Butch Brown, he’s the Bill Murphy of his generation.

Mr. Kramer,

I think this list is pretty cool! Looking forward to meeting many of those on the list I haven’t yet as an up and comer in the tournament circuit. It is kinda sad to say that some of the people I have met on this list are less than friendly though…too bad on that. But thank you for another great read!


Thank you George! It was a fun year and I am excited for 2014. Happy New Year.