Fishing Tips

Drop Shot and Topwaters Lead Lucas to B.A.S.S.® Angler of the Year Title

Posted 10/10/2018

Never before, in all his years of professional bass fishing, had Justin Lucas ended a tournament season with tears in his eyes, but it happened last month when the 2018 Bassmaster® Elite season concluded. The Yamaha Pro’s tears were well justified, however, because he had just won one of bass fishing’s most coveted titles, the B.A.S.S.® Angler of the Year.
“I am truly humbled,” he admitted as he accepted the AOY trophy on the weigh-in stage at Georgia’s Lake Chatuge. “I have dreamed of this for a long time, and it will take awhile for it to truly sink in.”
En route to his title, Lucas put together a truly remarkable season. He finished in the top 12 in six of the nine Bassmaster® Elite events on lakes and rivers stretching from Alabama to Texas to South Dakota and Wisconsin. His best finish was a second place on the St. Lawrence River in New York.
That runner-up finish came in August and was the fourth of five consecutive top 12 finishes during the summer months. “I have always considered myself a better winter and spring fisherman,” he said, “so I can’t explain my success during the warm weather events, except to say that I began getting a type of confidence I’ve never felt before. 
“It started in June during the Elite tournament on the Sabine River in Texas where I finished 10th. I was fishing around a lot of other fishermen there but I was catching plenty of fish, and I stayed in that same area all four days. Then, the same thing happened in the next event on the upper Mississippi River in Wisconsin a couple of weeks later. I was fishing close to quite a few other fishermen and I still caught enough bass to finish 11th.”
Lucas, like many other tournament pros, admits that winning the Angler of the Year title is always on his mind at the beginning of every season, but although he was fishing well this year he did not actually take the lead in the points race until after his tournament on the St. Lawrence, the next-to-last event of 2018.
“I was only 10 points behind going into the St. Lawrence tournament, and I was definitely anxious because I knew I had a chance,” he said. “After that tournament when I took over the lead, it really hit me. It was a different kind of pressure, something I have never, never experienced before.
“I only had a nine point lead, and during the three weeks leading up to Chatuge, I had a lot of sleepless nights.”
By accident, Lucas was one of the few competitors who had had previous experience on the scenic north Georgia impoundment where the title was ultimately decided. He and his family had taken a short vacation there during the summer of 2018. Even though he’d only spent a couple of hours fun fishing out of an aluminum boat, he at least had an idea of what to expect. He didn’t learn B.A.S.S.® had scheduled a tournament there until two months later.
At Lake Chatuge, he wrapped up the title by finishing 7th with 39 pounds. He is just the 23rd Angler of the Year winner in the long history of B.A.S.S.,® and also one of the youngest at 32.
The Yamaha Pro relied on two completely different fishing techniques throughout the season, dropshotting and topwaters. He first saw the effectiveness of dropshotting while watching the 1999 Bassmaster® Western Open tournament on California’s Lake Oroville when he was 13 years old, and he immediately started using it. His topwater success this year was equally as gratifying, since many of his fish came on a surface bait he designed himself.
Lucas moved from his home in northern California to Alabama when he was 22, just to become a fulltime professional bass fisherman, and now with his Angler of the Year title, most would agree the move was worth it. Y