The 2021 regular seasons on Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour and Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit roll to a close in coming weeks. It’s crunch time for a number of Texas pros with Angler of Year points titles, championship and 2022 requalification berths on the line.
Jim Tutt of Longview is in the thick of things.
Tutt, 61, is currently ranked sixth in the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit AOY points race. With one regular season event remaining — July 29 - Aug. 1 on the red hot St. Lawrence River in New York — Tutt is enjoying his best season ever since joining the circuit formerly called the FLW Tour) in 1999.
Tutt says he could finish dead last on the St. Lawrence and still qualify for the circuit’s Title Championship, Aug. 17-22. However, he needs a good showing to secure a spot among the Top 10 in points that would allow him to step up to the Bass Pro Tour next season.
“I’ve can’t mess up — I’ve got to catch ‘em to make it,” said Tutt. “I’d really like the opportunity to fish the BPT. I think I’d like the catch, weigh and release format. Plus, you’re fishing against smaller fields on some smaller lakes. The money can be pretty good, too.”
Tutt’s best finish this season is 18th. He has made the Top 50 cut in four of five events and cashed a check in every tournament. He attributes his banner year to several factors.
“I think going to a two-day practice has helped, because it has forced me to keep right on practicing through the tournaments. Plus, I’ve been fortunate to fish pretty clean all year. I’ve haven’t lost any key fish that cost me.”
Tutt added that he has experienced some health issues of the last year that have changed his focus.
“It’s kind of weird, but I’ve been thinking about other things and it’s helped me feel more relaxed on the water,” he said. “I feel like I’m fishing with more of an open mind and I’ve made some good decisions.”
Only the Top 48 in AOY points after the St. Lawrence River event will qualify for the Tackle Warehouse Title Championship. Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, currently 24th in points, is in good shape to make it with a decent finish.
Three other Texans are on the championship bubble or real close to it. Dicky Newberry of Houston is 46th; James Niggemeyer of Van, 52nd; and Jason Reyes of Huffman, 60th.
With two Bass Pro Tour events remaining, five Texas anglers are currently inside the Top 40 points cut to qualify for the 2022 Bass REDCREST Championship next March on Grand Lake in Tulsa, Okla. Among them are Alton Jones, Jr. of Waco, 7th; Jeff Sprague of Wills Point, 10th; Shin Fukae of Palestine, 15th; Takahiro Omori of Emory, 26th; and Alton Jones of Lorena, 28th.
Jasper’s Todd Faircloth currently holds down the No. 42 spot. He could easily qualify for his third REDCREST Championship with strong finishes in the final two regular season qualifiers on Lake Champlain and Lake St. Clair.