By Todd Ceisner
Josh Bertrand can’t remember feeling any lower than he did after the Alabama River Elite Series this year. He’d just come off a 90th-place finish at West Point Lake the week before and a 98th-place result at Montgomery didn’t help matters.
Five events into his rookie season, the 24-year-old from Arizona had plunged to 76th in the Toyota Tundra B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year (AOY) standings. The high of finishing 4th at Falcon Lake in the season’s second event had worn off completely. The grind of being a pro angler was about to begin.
A month-long break in the middle of the Elite Series schedule allowed him to go home and reset his bearings for the northern swing to close the season.
“I came home and fished a bunch,” he said. “I just got back to the grind and refocused.”
It certainly did him some good because Bertrand booked Top-30 finishes in each of the final three events, including an 8th at the St. Lawrence River, to rise to 37th in the final AOY standings and pull down his first Bassmaster Classic berth in the process. It was a stunning turnaround for Bertrand, who narrowly missed earning a Classic spot last year after losing a fish-off to Brent Chapman at the Lewisville Lake Central Open.