It’s a marathon, but there are distance markers along the way. In this season-long race for the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Ye
It’s a marathon, but there are distance markers along the way. In this season-long race for the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie of the Year title, Masayuki Matsushita is the early leader thanks to his third-place finish in the 2022 season opener at the St. Johns River.
The 38-year-old Matsushita, from Tokoname Aichi, Japan, earned 98 of a possible 100 points. There are 10 rookies on the Elite Series this season. In an early indication of the strength in this class, four of them made the 47th-place two-day cut to qualify for Day 3, and Joseph Webster just missed it, finishing 48th. Matty Wong placed 21st (80 points), Jay Przekurat was 33rd (68 points) and Jonathan Kelley finished 36th (65 points).
With the growing strength of high school and college competitive bass fishing, the Elite Series rookie class seems to grow younger every year. Five rookies are 26 or younger. Alex Redwine of Blue Ash, Ohio, and Jay Przekurat of Stevens Point, Wis., are both 22. Redwine is younger by two months.
And there’s also a veteran element to this rookie class. Joseph Webster of Hamilton, Ala., is 47 and has earned close the rookie cutoff mark of $500,000 in total winnings from the three major U.S. circuits – B.A.S.S., FLW and MLF. Matsushita and Daisuki Aoki, 39, have been ranked among the top anglers in their native Japan for several years.
A brief look back at last year’s rookie race shows what it takes to win the title. Bryan New won his first-ever Elite Series tournament at the 2020 season opener at St. Johns River. However, New would finish fourth in the ROY final standings due to some lows along the way – 85th at Lake Fork and 79th at the Sabine River. Josh Stracner’s gradual rise to the ROY title did include an 81st-place finish at Neely Henry. But that was offset by finishes of 16th at Lake Fork, 18th at the St. Johns River, 23rd at Pickwick Lake and 22nd in the season-ending tournament at the St. Lawrence River.
The 2021 ROY race wasn’t decided until the St. Lawrence River event. In the final tally, Stracner had 547 points, Justin Hamner was second with 536, KJ Queen finished third with 534 and New was fourth with 533.
The race for the for the 2022 Falcon Rods Rookie of the Year title has just begun. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.