By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Four finishes among the Top 5, including a win, in five MLF Bass Pro Tour events. Four Top-10 finishes, with another win, in five MLF Invitational outings. A couple of one-off appearances in Toyota Series derbies resulting in placements of 6th and 11th.

Yeah, Drew Gill is having a really good year!

With just two BPT tournaments remaining, the 22-year-old rookie from Illinois is in a four-man race for the Angler of the Year (AOY) title with a trio of the sport's superstars – Jacob Wheeler, Alton Jones Jr. and Dustin Connell. Gill is currently 4th, trailing two-time AOY Wheeler by 28 1/2 points. He's 14 1/2 points behind "Little Alton" and 4 in back of Connell.

He badly wants to win a tour-level AOY crown, but doesn't like his chances this year.

"Realistically, I don't think it's feasible," the former Campbellsville (Ky.) University star said. "Jacob and Alton would have to slip up simultaneously and the odds of that happening are slim to none. Even if I won both events, I doubt I could do it.

"Over the last few years, going from a spectator to fishing college events and just working my way up, my biggest goal was to make it to the BPT and try to win Angler of the Year. From a personal perspective, it would mean something to me as a competitor more than any other title in the sport. To fish a whole season and be more consistent than Wheeler, Connell, Alton Jr., Becker and all those guys is an accolade that can't be topped by any other achievement.

"Long-term, over the next 5 years or so, it's my No. 1 goal, but it's a lot easier said than done," he continued. "If I can keep competing at this level, it's not out of the question, but it's not like I can just walk in and take it, like it's manifest destiny. I just want to be in a state mentally where I feel like I have a chance."

He won the most recent BPT event at North Carolina's Chowan River, catching 22 scoreable fish from the mouth of a tributary that combined to weigh 58-14 in the Championship Round. His margin of victory over runner-up Michael Neal was exactly 14 pounds.

His Invitationals win came at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in the season opener in mid-February as he exploited fish making the transition from their winter mode to the beginning of the spawning ritual.

Between MFL's top two circuits, he's pocketed $318,400 in winnings in 2024. He has one mediocre finish on each circuit (a 45th at Santee Cooper on the BPT and a 35th in an Invitational at Lake Eufaula), but he's astoundingly ended up among the Top 10 in 80 percent of his starts.

What's his secret? Well, at just about every venue, he's come up with something that's allowed him to put quality either on ScoreTracker or in his livewell at some point during the event.

"It's not that I can't make a wrong decision, but it's like I can't not make a right decision somewhere along the line," said Gill, who, like almost all young stars in the sport, is a forward-facing sonar wizard and is particularly adept at employing it in shallow water. "At some point, I've found something that leads me down the path of having a great event, and it just keeps happening. Sometimes I wake up in the morning (on a tournament day) and I don't know where I'm going or what I'm going to do, so I just go fishing – I go out and trust the process.

"When a good streak lasts long enough, you start wondering, where's the plateau? Is this it? Am I peaking right now or am I capable of more? I think that's true of anybody in any sport and I'm still early enough in my career that I don't know where to set the bar yet."