Who's the biggest threat to chase down leader Andy Morgan in the FLW Series Eastern Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race? It's probably Kevin Bishop.
Never heard of him, you say? Well, the Hilton, N.Y. angler is 2nd in the points (11 behind Morgan) with finishes of 10th at Dardanelle and 22nd at Okeechobee. And now, after a hiatus of more than 3 1/2 months, the circuit is heading right into his wheelhouse.
The event at Champlain gets under way Sept. 5. He doesn't fish Champlain all that often – he spends more time on Erie and the Finger Lakes – but he has a sparkling record there. He's compiled two Stren Top 10s (last year and 2002), a BFL victory (2001) and three other BFL Top 10s.
"It's pretty exciting," said the 40-year-old owner of an industrial painting firm. "It's going to be a slugfest for sure. It might be a couple weeks early for prime time for the smallmouths, but they'll definitely play into the mix.
"The lake kind of suits my style, but it suits just about anybody's style because you can do whatever you want to do."
His preferred mode is pulling largemouths out of the slop.
"I probably should have grown up in Florida because that's what I enjoy the most. That should play big-time in the southern end."
He was 2nd behind Dave Lefebre in the 2006 Northern Stren points, but he'd never fished a tour-level event prior to this year. He got into the final two FLW Tour regular-season tournaments and finished 158th at the Potomac River and 57th at the Detroit River.
"I've taken this at kind of a slow pace because of my business, and also because I have an 11-year-old daughter. I've just kind of worked by way up through the BFLs and the Strens.
"But Jason Knapp and Dave Wolak are both really good friends of mine, and I talk to them almost daily. (Turning pro) is something I'd definitely like to work my way into as time goes on."
There are some familiar names behind him in the Top 10 on the points list. Bud Pruitt is 3rd, followed by Wesley Strader, Chris Elliott, David Dudley, Andy Montgomery, Scott Martin, Clark Reehm and Jason Knapp.
The Top 30 in the points will advance to face their Western Division counterparts in a bracketed fish-off. Winners of those head-to-head matches will gain berths in the 2008 Forrest Wood Cup.