Keith Combs won his first tournament ever outside the state of Texas by winning the Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship on Lake Mille Lacs. But at the end of the day, it was Brandon Palaniuk who won the coveted Angler of the Year trophy. Oh, and Dustin Connell won the Rookie of the Year trophy.
Basically, there were a lot of trophies handed out over the weekend.
In terms of the rankings, we’ll start with Combs. Clearly one of the best in Texas (he has five major wins in the state), Combs has always been far more versatile than people gave him credit, as he’s long been ranked in our top 10 and even as high as No. 2. His win at Mille Lacs proved that even more, while solidifying his No. 7 ranking in the sport.
Then there is Palaniuk. We’ve written a lot about his boom-or-bust past, but his AOY title caps off not just a consistent one-year, but two-year stretch. Palaniuk is now ranked No. 11 in our official two-year Majors Ranking. Though, he’s actually ranked No. 13 in the one-year ranking. How is that possible? His poor Bassmaster Classic showing, while not factored into his AOY points, hurts his overall average.
And we can’t forget Connell. He hasn’t fished enough tournaments to qualify for the two-year ranking, but his one-year ranking is impressive, as he sits in 15th. He had six top-30 finishes and a win in his first pro season, so expect him to debut high on the official two-year ranking early next year.
In looking at the rest of the two-year Majors ranking, the most noteworthy move was Greg Hackney slipping from eighth to 15th, while the rest of the top 10 saw plenty of shuffling. Minus Jacob Wheeler and Bryan Thrift continuing to hold down the top two spots, of course.