MATT ALLEN rises to the top in California.

Take nothing away from our skilled cadre of tournament anglers—well, maybe just a little. This year there just was no unbeatable, don’t-even-bother-to-try, indisputable competitors to dominate on the California Top 40 Bass Angler List. For that very reason, you can roll out the red [deck] carpet for 2015’s very best–Matt Allen!

Each year, with diverse help statewide from the Bass Angler Assessment Team (BAAT) we try to discern the very best throughout the Golden State and present them on the Top 40. And by virtue of that effort, Allen, who paraded an almost unimaginable number of trophy largemouth and spotted bass from the likes of Clear Lake, Berryessa, the Delta and even the under-rated Bullard’s Bar, is the man in the spotlight. He’s clearly #1.

Still, a few words about the ranking process. One, of course, it is incalculable. You knew that.

Two, competitive anglers, since they do not face each other in all regions, are generally rated in their particular group of tournament peers. Quite apparently, this affected those labeled “Elite.” Since an Alabama angler (yes, former Cali pro Aaron Martens) almost lapped the field, the resulting “highest finishing Californians” designation was just not that impressive.

Then there was the problem of multi-tour performances. These cut both ways. Good in one and poor in another is hard to quantify. In some cases, we also had look for a boost from a stand-alone event, either a championship or showcase event. However, we tended not to penalize fishermen for a lesser finish in these, since they were one-and-done in nature.

Turn it anyway you like (or don’t like, for that matter) here are the 40 best from the Golden State:

  1. MATT ALLEN, Vacaville—He’s been moving steadily up the ladder over the last few years and the combination of remarkable catches on four different waters and less-than-stellar showing by the state’s touring pros opened the door.
  2. BRENT EHRLER, Newport Beach—As long as he can cast, Ehrler will challenge for the top spot. He gets the nod her over number three on the strength of his “Rookie of the Year” finish in the Elites.
  3. CHRIS ZALDAIN, San Jose—When he’s good, he’s very good and Zaldain held up well this year against the top national circuit’s contenders.
  4. SKEET REESE, Auburn—Not his best year, but still another solid finish among the Elites. Too bad the Bassmasters fill out his calendar (and the rest) like a child care provider.
  5. DAVID VALDIVIA, Norwalk—With Joe Uribe, Jr. escaping to Arizona, this guy’s Western Rayovac finish (#2) pushed him high on the list.
  6. ISH MONROE, Hughson—Could argue that his 7th place on the FLW Tour and top 50 Elite finish would place him higher. But it doesn’t matter.
  7. KYLE GROVER, Trabuco Canyon—Had a chance for a very special year, but it just didn’t happen. Top 10 in the state, though, and that ain’t bad.
  8. CODY MEYER, Auburn—You’d think winning $71,000 on the FLW Tour would get you something. It got him 13th there, but even higher in the Golden State.
  9. WAYNE BREZEALE, Kelseyville—Some would say too high, but you can’t penalize for what he didn’t fish. And 3rd in the California Open.
  10. TOM LEEDOM, Escondido—Charge his battery, put someone in the backseat and you have a championship team. Won the NBW championship at Havasu, and scored a top 10 US Open finish. So yeah.
  11. TIM LITTLE, Kelseyville—He won’t be able to hide anymore. His huge catches and video instruction say he’s not afraid to share his expertise—which is immense.
  12. MARCO FENELLI, San Diego—In 2015, his name was also interchangeable on the top San Diego teams. And another U.S. Open top 10’er as well.
  13. KEVIN NORLING, Poway—Will probably be ranked first in San Diego, but missed out on a summer trip to Lake Mead that could have given him a huge boost.
  14. JASON MILLIGAN, Shasta Lake—An interesting case for the BAAT. Sixth in Everstarts, but also a TBF AOY.
  15. CHAD HULBERT, Gilroy—We really like this guy. With a 5th spot on the “Battery Tour” at times he was ELECTRIC!
  16. ED ARLEDGE, Valley Center—Continuing to defy age like a bottle of Almay, he stuck with the Everstarts and finished an impressive 7th.
  17. MATT LEVERICH, Oakley—In that inner circle of big bass chasers, this is the guy they go to for the Delta scoop.
  18. JOHN MORROW, Brea—You won’t find a lot of clippings or hardware in the newlywed’s den, but he is an exceptional fish catcher.
  19. CHARLIE ALMASSEY, Oakley—Even without the video evidence, his record stands on its own, a nice 8th in the Everstarts.
  20. ROBERT LEE, Angels Camp—A veteran guy, with a huge resume, who may not be winning, but could at any time. Top 10 in the Everstarts.
  21. CHRIS FRANKS, Petaluma—His 49th place at Havasu kept him from an even higher Rayovac finish, but 10th is pretty good.
  22. KERRY HARRIS, San Jose—A strong year at 12th in the Rayovac Series. The question now, can he do it again next season?
  23. MILES HOWE, San Clemente—Poised to do some really good things. We are watching.
  24. MATT NEWMAN, Agoura Hills—Seems to score well in every team circuit around, and in his area, the word is there is nobody better.
  25. KLAYTON BELDEN, El Cajon—An odd situation. He gave up a top 10 spot in the El Cajon Ford team series to fish the U.S. Open—where he finished in the top 10. Good enough for us.
  26. DON MOORMAN, Los Banos—Unfortunately, the big bait specialist slipped under the radar last year. But as we like to say, you’re either on the list or you’re not. He’s on now.
  27. JEFF MICHAELS, Lakehead—Just missed the top 10 in the Rayovac Series, but finished strong and deserves a spot.
  28. JON DEMONET, Downey—New to the list, but you only need to look for the words “Top Stick” to find him.
  29. DANNY CROSS, Placerville—Toying with the Future Pro Circuit again this year. Tell him, the future starts now, it’s time to step up in competition.
  30. KEITH RINI, Newbury Park—Sometimes there are teams that have two powerhouse members. This guy is one of those from Top Stick.
  31. BRIAN EVANS, Oak View—With or without partner Newman, this guy is considered a top tier angler.
  32. MIKE FOLKESTAD, Villa Park—A championship qualifier in two team circuits, and then the winner of one—I guess he’s still got it.
  33. DEAN JAMIESON, Chula Vista—No signature big fish this year, but those watching closely know he was ahead of the curve with some advanced techniques in San Diego.
  34. MARC JEUDEVINE, Westlake Village—Yep. The other half of the Rini team in Top Stick. It’s unusual, but deserved.
  35. RICH WELCH, Santee—Perhaps overlooked in recent seasons, his second place in the EC Ford series and his win at the annual San Diego Team Open gets him the slot.
  36. DENNIS KOLENDER, Santee—Hate to leave his partner off, but this guy gets the credit for a big season in NBW in San Diego and the pair’s 2nd place championship finish at Havasu.
  37. LORENZO ROSETTI, Stockton—Overlooked too long, this guy is really good. Getting some love in 2015.
  38. CODY SPETZ, Menifee—NBW teams at Diamond Valley was one of the toughest circuits to crack, and this rising star (with his partner) was the best.
  39. MIKE PHUA, Chino—Really wanted to see something big from the big guy in 2015, but just 3 little points behind the top DVL team gets him on.
  40. TONY LAIN, Menifee—The toughest spot on the list to fill, just retired and turning to full-time fishing, he was a strong team player, and best in Anglers Marine circuit.



25 Responses to “Allen rated #1 in ‘California Top 40’”

Congratulations to all of the anglers who made the Top 40 List! I know how difficult it is every year for Mr. Kramer to shrink 100s of names down to just 40. I am looking forward to 2016 and the challenges of fishing my first season as a full-time Pro angler. I love our sport and I am also blessed with some awesome partners and sponsors. #40 is an honor and it is actually motivation! See you on the water!

I thought you were done doing this?

by George Kramer

Death wish. 😉

Congratulations to all the anglers who made the list

Congratulations to the fellas on the list this year. Always fun to see the results and read the statements after the names. Cool to see many friends on the list and feel they all are well deserved.

Lol, some things are more difficult to quit than others. Congrats to everyone on the list. I especially like seeing Matt’s name at the top. The guy has definitely provided some good info via his website.

True honor to be on the list!! Thank you. and congrats to everyone else on the list!

by mike folkestad

thanks George what a surprise your check in the mail .Congrats to everybody on the list well deserved

Thanks for the recognition George I’ve been watching this list since I was 12-13 years old and to see my name on it with all these great anglers is an honor ! Congrats to everyone whose made it on here!

What the He#$. No non boaters! Are you serious! lol, thanks George for all your work! Its always entertaining.

Congrats to everyone on the list! Hope to get on the list when I get to the pointy end. Also, that South OC surfer dude back deck pro needs to be on this list as well!

once again no bald brothers

From what I have witnessed, this honor should have been bestode on this young man a few years ago. I have been a steady client of Matt’s since 2011. I fly in from Toronto,Canada, once a year and every year my Clear Lake record keeps growing. First year 2011, 7lbs.8oz 2014 @ 8lbs.10oz on my last visit in 2014. I also had the privledge of watching and netting a Clear Lake Monster for Matt, A beautiful 13lb female. After a quick chat, weighed, a few pictures, Matt released the Monster to be caught another day.

Matt, You’da Man


by Ryan Crandell

I agree rick todd kline should of list for sure flw champion you did pretty good also

Thank you for the recognition. It’s an honor making the list.

Ryan Crandell, just to make sure you know my thoughts on this and yes I did beat Todd in the Co Angler final standings this year and won just as many boats this year as he did, no Co Angler’s should be even close to this list. Its 20% skill meets 80% pairing luck who gets to take advantage of someone else’s hard work. Touring Pro’s and Western Rayovac Pro’s should make up the bulk of George’s list no matter how tough a year they had as they fish against the BEST Derby guys all year long on lakes they rarely even fish.

Hahaha!! What a joke!!

Thank you George and good job guys. Lots of friends on here. Bald Brothers next year. Lol

Congrats to the the top 40, too cool. LIM

Being a northern Cal fishermen it seems like if you fish DVL you make the list . LOL
I’m glad you noticed Lorenzo Rossetti. This guy has been dominating the Delta region for years. Thank you for doing this top 40 list. This is great entertainment.

Congratulations to all who have made the list!

Jim: I think the assertion here is DVL is a big, deep, ugly lake with no shallows, water quality problems, is slow to warm up and outside of spring, forces anglers deep. And yet, it draws the biggest fields. Unfortunately for many, its fishing ended early in the year due to low water.

Thanks George for putting me on the list for the 2nd year in a row. And congrats to all the rest of the top 40. I do feel I had an incredible last couple of years. Although think there is lots of guys more qualified than myself. But will definitely take the recognition and keep working hard at what I enjoy doing most.

Congrats to all and thanks George for this list.. Especially Matt- great to see ya out at Bullards a few weeks back and congrats to Mr Moorman, an early mentor of mine and much deserved as well.

Thank you George for the spot on the list, you are my favorite writer!