By Todd Ceisner
As quick as a hiccup, the 2012 tournament season came and went.
What stands out in your mind from the Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour Major campaigns – Brent Chapman's charge or David Dudley's dominance? With 2013 breathing down our necks, we wanted to take a stroll down memory lane to relive the moments that made the past year, well, memorable.
There were dominant performances by proven veterans, fresh faces taking their turn at the top and no shortage of pure drama.
Below is a summary of each Bassmaster Elite Series and FLW Tour Major winning moment (FLW Tour Opens are not included).
After you've looked through the events, check out the new BassFan Poll and vote on your favorite winning moment. To find the poll, visit the homepage, then scroll down the right-hand side of the page.
Bassmaster Classic — Red River, La. — Feb. 18-20
Chris Lane arrived at the Red River oozing confidence after slamming the door on a 14-pound win at the Harris Chain Southern Open in January. Averaging 17 pounds a day by bouncing between backwaters in pools 4 and 5 was enough to give him his first major victory and made for a cool on-stage moment when brother Bobby, who finished 20th, bear-hugged him amid a shower of confetti immediately after he clinched the title.
Hartwell FLW Tour Major — Greenville, S.C. — March 8-11
Covering literally the entire water column, Brent Ehrler doesn’t lead until the final day, but is never more than 10 ounces out of the top spot. He backs up his runner-up result from 2011 by proving the umbrella rig works on pre-spawners and thumps 20-05 on day 4 to claim his 4th Tour-level victory. It winds up being be the high point of 2012 for the Californian, who suffered rib and abdominal injuries in a serious two-car accident in August.
St. Johns Elite Series — Palatka, Fla. — March 15-18
After a 4th-place finish at the Classic, Alton Jones does what he does best – he goes looking. Lake George proves to be the place to be again as he plucks willing females off beds to score his first win since the Hartwell Classic in ‘08. He takes his sight-fishing approach to a new level by trading his colorful jersey for a muted green polo shirt to help his stealth appearance. His 28-pound day-2 bag pushes him to the lead, but he nearly fritters away a 9-pound cushion on day 4 as Todd Faircloth mounts a valiant surge that falls a pound and change short.
Lake Okeechobee Elite Series — Okeechobee, Fla. — March 22-25
What was shaping up to be the Monroe Mashing almost turns into the Monroe Meltdown, but Ish Monroe holds off Chris Lane and becomes the only pro on either circuit this season to crack the century mark. His day-2 lead of nearly 14 pounds gets trimmed to 10 ounces on day 3, but he answers with a 30-pound sack on day 4 and slams the door on his second career Elite Series win.
Table Rock FLW Tour Major — Branson, Mo. — March 29-April 1
Alabama teenager Kyle Welcher dominates the first half of the event with a 24 1/2-pound bag on day 2, but fades on the weekend while Brent Long uncovers a stretch of dingy water in a tributary known as Long Creek (fitting, right?). He erases a 7 1/2-pound deficit after day 2 to beat another youngster in Spencer Shuffield by 7 ounces and claim his second career Tour win, which still stand as the only Top-10 cuts of his career.
Bull Shoals Elite Series — Bull Shoals, Ark. — April 19-22
Following two missed cuts in Florida and undeterred by a mid-day trip to the ER to remove a treble hook from his left pinky on day 2, Brandon Palaniuk cranks his way to his first career Elite Series win in rather dominant, wire-to-wire fashion. Anglers revel at the number – and quality – of fish they catch all week and are rewarded with a return trip in 2013.
Brandon Palaniuk prevailed at Bull Shoals despite a trip to the ER.
Beaver Lake FLW Tour Major — Rogers, Ark. — April 26–29
In one of the more emotional events of the year, David Dudley nearly tips head-first out of his boat on the final day trying to untangle a fish from a submerged branch. He winds up landing the fish and rides a remarkable afternoon flurry to claim his first Tour Major win since 2008 and serves notice that he’s the man to beat again in the Angler of the Year (AOY) race. He dedicates his victory to his ailing grandmother in a moving victory speech.
Douglas Lake Elite Series — Dandridge, Tenn. — May 3-6
The issue of strolling, or long-lining, comes to the fore as several anglers employ the technique to put their crankbaits in the faces of shad-stalking largemouths near the bottom. Some thought it uncouth, while others took full advantage of the gray area in the rules. Jeremy Starks, who sat out 2011 due to health issues and was forced off the water on day 1 because of a dizzy spell, does it better than the rest as he erases nearly a 6-pound deficit on day 4 and overtakes Britt Myers for his second career win. Myers, meanwhile, settles for 2nd for the second straight tournament.
Potomac River FLW Tour -- National Harbor, Md. -- May 17-20
It’s no secret that Scott Martin feels at home when fishing vegetation. Playing the tide was the bigger issue here, though. He starts strong with an event-best 22-10, then holds on for dear life to beat Justin Lucas by 3 ounces at the wire. It’s Martin’s fifth career Tour-level triumph and gives him one win in three of the last four seasons. Dudley finishes 3rd and seizes control of the AOY race.
Toledo Bend Elite Series -- Many, La. -- June 7-10
The magical season for Brent Chapman hits another high note as he camps offshore and strokes a spoon and football jig to score his first Elite Series victory. It’s his fourth Top-5 finish in five events so far and vaults him back into the AOY points lead.
Kentucky Lake FLW Tour — Murray, Ky. — June 7-10
Dave Lefebre overcomes a trio of lost fish on the final morning and closes the day with a 6-pounder to turn a 2-ounce deficit into a 6 1/2-pound victory. He works over an area he actually marked, but never fished, back in 2009. The win pushes his career earnings past the $1 million mark.
Mississippi River Elite Series — La Crosse, Wis. — June 21-24
Despite incurring a 4-ounce fish-care penalty on day 4, Texan Todd Faircloth does enough to wrap up his third career Elite Series win and keeps himself in the AOY race. On a fishery brimming with 2-pounders, he finds enough difference-makers in the next size class up thanks to a frog/punching combo to hold off Cliff Pace, who settles for 2nd for the second straight event.
Jacob Wheeler mined shallow-water targets to become the youngest Forrest Wood Cup winner ever.
Lake Michigan Elite Series — Green Bay, Wis. — June 28-July 1
Plenty is said before the event about the boundary set by the Wisconsin DNR that limits the field to essentially the lower portion of the Bay of Green Bay, but Jonathon VanDam finds the mother lode of Lake Michigan smallmouth south of the border line and averages 22 pounds to collect his first Elite Series win 2 months before his 24th birthday. Uncle Kevin, who fishes within sight of JVD most of the week, presents him with the trophy, making for a cool family moment on stage.
Champlain FLW Tour Major — Plattsburgh, N.Y. — June 28-July 1
What AOY drama? Behind another superlative effort by world No. 1 David Dudley, the Virginian locks up career AOY title No. 3 (and second straight) with his second win of the year with a wire job. He does it by skipping the long runs south to largemouth-infested Ticonderoga where crowding was a concern. Instead, he ventures north to Missisquoi Bay and averages 19 pounds a day to hold off Jacob Powroznik, who also takes 2nd in the AOY race.
Forrest Wood Cup — Lake Lanier, Ga. — August 9-12
Talk about zigging when everyone else zagged. Jacob Wheeler proves going against the grain can pay off as he spends the majority of his tournament way up the Chattahoochie River, miles away from the nearest brush pile. He gets everyone’s attention on day 1 with 21-15 and never lets up, becoming the youngest Cup champion ever and holding off a Top-10 roster whose collective résumés include four Cup titles, three Bassmaster Classic wins and five AOY awards.
Oneida Elite Series — Syraucse, N.Y. — August 23-26
With his Classic hopes on life support, Boyd Duckett goes bumper-to-bumper with Kelly Jordon and Starks on a spot that’s, coincidentally, a few long casts out in front of the house he rented (with Jordon) for the week. He goes with 10-pound fluorocarbon, even while flipping, and scores a Classic berth with a narrow win over Randy Howell, who comes in with four fish on day 4. On day 3, Chapman puts the finishing touches on a brilliant season by clinching his first career AOY crown, holding off Ott DeFoe and ending Kevin VanDam’s historic 4-year AOY reign.
Don't forget to vote for your favorite victory in the BassFan Poll on the homepage.