HKB THE AOY RACE | PART ONE
The 2023 season is progressing quickly and we’re in the stage of the game where the AOY races are really starting to shape up. Some of these are so competitive, it seems they may be decided by a quarter of an inch, others are a little more spread out but regardless, it’s been exciting to watch things progress throughout the season.
With so many series in the Hoosier state in 2023, it can be tough to keep up with what’s happening and who’s in the running. So to help shine a light on the efforts of our anglers, we’re going to do a full breakdown of where things currently stand (date of publish) across all 25+ SERIES!
IKA | INDIANA KAYAK ANGLERS
The IKA Race for the AOY Title is really just getting started, as the series to date has only completed two events. Things will really start to take shape though next weekend, when IKA hosts its 3rd event of the season on Lake Raccoon.
Currently, Ryan Platt, leads the way with 193 points, but Mark Howell is only one point behind. From there, the points spread out actually remained pretty low with Drew Duncan in 3rd, thanks to his victory on the Tri-Lakes, just a handful of points behind the lead.
Jim Bailey, Clint Stafford, and Justin Kivett are all above 180 points and very much in the mix. While it's a little too early to pick favorites or potential sleepers, you have to like Ryan Platt's odds at the moment.
With the next event on Raccoon, I would be paying close attention to Tweezy as well. He is still performing even in the post-spawn and he has some experience on Raccoon. I also can see the Duggar East event coming up in July also setting up well for Antoine. Earlier this season, Antoine finished 2nd in the SIYAK derby on Duggar East. He also is a threat on the White River, which is the final stop in the regular season for IKA.
So I guess we do have a sleeper pick, but is he really a “sleeper pick” at this point?
SIYAK | SOUTHERN INDIANA YAK ANGLERS KLUB
In recent years, SIYAK’s AOY race has been dominated by Matt Kiefer. Of course, this season Matt is right in the mix of things once again, currently sitting in 2nd place - just 7 points behind the leader after 4 events.
That all being said, much of the conversation this season has been about the challengers, Adam Murray and 2022 SIYAK Champion, MH3. Both anglers have made it known they want the title and they want it bad. It’s also obvious neither of them are backing down.
Currently, Adam Murray is holding things down in the hot seat with 394 points after 4 events completed. MH3, however, has fished one less event, leaving him in 4th place, but his average point per finish is 98.5 which is higher than Kiefer and just shy of Adam’s pace.
Of course, these aren't the only 3 players in the race. Antoine Hayes and TJ Aylward, amongst others, could still shake some things up.
SIYAK’s next event could definitely be a defining moment for a number of anglers in this race. While MH3 and Adam are both going into this one with no previous experience, Matt Kiefer is very familiar with this water. This may be an opportunity for Matt to get on top, or at least close the gap between him and Adam. That said if Adam and/or MH3 are able to figure things out and land on the podium, the odds of them closing down the AOY race sky rocket.
Past Sugar Ridge is the Blue River event, which historically has been anyone's game. Usually, this event is more of a good time than a serious knockdown, drag-out fight for points. The final event of the season, however, is a month-long statewide challenge.
This event will be a true dogfight. There will be many long days and nights spent on the water by those in the hunt for the title.
Adam will be amongst the favorites for this one, as he has been known to put up some serious totals in month-long events. Matt Kiefer will obviously also be a favorite, with his access to some of the best big fish waters in the state.
The one to watch out for though, is TJ Aylward. He has the hot hand right now when it comes to finding the bigs and if he can carry that momentum into the later part of the season and is within striking distance, he will definitely have the potential to upset the likes of Adam, Matt, and MH3.
GRBY | GRASS ROOTS BASS YAKIN
When it comes to GRBY, as you all know by now, there is no shortage of action. With 15 series and 75 regular season events through the state, it's going to take some time to break them all down. To make it a little easier on me and you, we're going to break this down into 3 parts. In Part one, we will talk about the GRBY Lake and River Overall AOY race. In Part 2 & 3 we will break down the remaining series and take a look at USA Bassin and the KBF Challenge Series.
GRBY Lake Overall
GRBY began the Overall AOY Standings in 2022. Rewarding the top angler with a $1000 FishUSA gift card presented by KBF. The Overall AOY standings are determined by an Angler's top 12 events in any GRBY series. Last year was a true battle between Glenn Landstrom and yours truly, (Sam Jones). It came down to the wire and ultimately landed in a tie. I was fortunate to win the tiebreaker and claim the title.
This year, the race is just as exciting and tight at the top, but unlike last year where it was mostly dominated by 2 anglers, this season there is, of course, a front runner. But a handful of anglers are in the hunt, with a larger group still with an outside chance.
If you have been following the week-to-week HKB Top Performers recaps then you can probably guess who is in the Hot Seat right now and the favorite to earn the title. That's right, Antoine Hayes! Currently with 1147 points, Hayes has completed his 12 events and is now able to start culling some of his lower events. Averaging 95.33 points per event, it's easy to see why he is on top. Behind the leader by 16 points is Ryan Reedy, who is averaging 94.25 points per event. Only one other angler has completed 12 events to date and that is Scott Tallman, who currently holds down 4th with 875 points and has a 72.91 per event average.
Several anglers, however, are 3-6 events away from completing 12 events. Of those, some are carrying a points-per-event average even higher than the current leaders. TJ Aylward has 6 events under his belt and 3 Wins, resulting in a 98.66 average!
With the number of events left in the GRBY season a lot could still change, so this race is far from over.
GRBY River AOY
This year, GRBY introduced a River Series Overall AOY. Like the lake overall, this AOY race is determined by your performance amongst all GRBY River Series. With fewer river series available, the score is based on anglers best 7, versus 12 in the lake series.
This AOY Race is extremely competitive right now. Several anglers in the hunt and a lot of fishing left, especially in the GRBY Tippy series. As of right now though, Randall Kisser has the lead with 509 points and an 84.83 point per event average. Keep in mind though, one of Randall's 6 completed events was a dud. We fully expect him to cull that event. If you remove that one and take a look at his best 5, he is running a 91.8 PPE average, that's very solid. Dave Atwell and Eric Tracey are not far behind both, with 5 events completed and just over 93 PPE average.
Carrying one of the highest, if not the highest, of any angler with 3 events or more is Josh Chrenko, with 2 wins and a low score of 94. His current PPE is an even 98.00, making him the one to watch as the season progresses, assuming he is able to complete his 7-event minimum.
We also like Nathan Pickering as a potential AOY title holder. Currently with 289 points after 3 events and a 96.3 PPE average, he too could be a player in a few short weeks.
Alright, That wraps up part one the 2023 AOY race breakdown. Part 2 & 3 will be out next week!