Omori Retakes Top Spot in Angler-of-the-Year Race

Don't look now, but reigning CITGO Bassmaster Classic champion Takahiro Omori is back in the lead for the sport's other most coveted title - the CITGO Bassmaster Angler of the Year award.

In fact, the Japanese pro now living in Texas only relinquished the Angler-of-the-Year lead for one tournament. He opened the CITGO Bassmaster Tour season with a victory at Florida's Lake Tohopekaliga and then fell to second after a 35th-place showing at the nearby Harris Chain. After a 31-pound, 27th-place performance at last week's Tour stop on Alabama's Lake Guntersville, Omori is back in the driver's seat with 741 points.

"I'm trying not to think about it," he said. "I think about it, but I'm not going to worry about it.

"That's my goal every year (to win Angler of the Year), but historically I've never had a chance except three years ago (when) I was leading the points until two tournaments to go. Still, the season is only half-way over. There are still too many fishermen (in contention). I'm just doing my best."

Omori has ridden the momentum of a Classic victory as well as any angler in recent BASS history.

"Like I said at Toho, I feel like I'm fishing better than I've ever fished in my career," he said. "I've been fishing well (since) I won the CITGO Horizon Award a couple of years ago."

California's Skeet Reese, fourth in the AOY race after the Harris Chain event, moved up to second with 710 points thanks to a 36th-place finish in Alabama.

"It's a good place to be," Reese said. "As long as I'm up there, I've at least got a shot. I'd rather be in second than 102nd.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it. I've always wanted to win Angler of the Year. The last four years or so I've had a shot at it near the end of the season, and that's been good for my confidence. If I don't win it at some point in my career, I'm going to be ticked."

The biggest move in the Angler-of-the-Year standings after Lake Guntersville belonged to reigning Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle.

When he boated an eight-pound bass at noon on the second day at Guntersville, Swindle yelled, "This is the bass that put me back in the Angler-of-the-Year race!"

The Alabama pro rebounded from opening the tournament in 104th place with a limit catch of nearly 28 pounds on Day 2 to make the semifinals and ultimately finish ninth. That put him in third in the AOY standings with 691 points - not a bad jump considering that he was 17th after the Harris Chain tournament.

"I try not to think of stuff like that," he said. "I try to look at every tournament as a new day, and I've really got it in my mind to win one of these (BASS tournaments), so I'm going to let the points fall where they may."

Florida's Terry Scroggins is fourth with 686 points followed by Marty Stone of North Carolina (669) and veteran Arkansas pro Ron Shuffield (667) as the Tour moves to Georgia's Clarks Hill Reservoir this week.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit www.bassmaster.com.