By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Finishing ahead of Andy Morgan in any derby on any bass fishery is a stern challenge these days. Outdueling him on Tennessee River impoundments is always a monumental chore.
That's the task that Cody Meyer is faced with as he tries to wrest the FLW Tour Angler of the Year (AOY) crown from the top-ranked competitor in the game. The Californian is just glad to be presented with such an opportunity.
"My goal every year is to make the Forrest Wood Cup, so now, to be in the AOY hunt and have a legitimate chance is really awesome," he said. "I've pretty much made the Cup and now I have a shot to do something really special.
"Realistically, he's definitely in the driver's seat Ė he's so hard to beat anywhere. I've only beaten him one time this year. It's a great feeling to be there, though, and all I can do is fish hard. If it's meant to be, it'll happen."
Lots of Separation
With two events remaining in the Tour season, quite a few anglers in addition to Morgan and Meyer are still mathematically alive in the AOY chase. There's a big gap, however, between that duo and the rest of the would-be contenders.
Morgan, with a pair of runner-up finishes and no placement lower than 22nd in four tournaments, leads the chase with 765 points. Meyer, who has three Top-10s and a 27th, is 6 points back.
From there, it's a 57-point drop down to Jacob Wheeler, who's 3rd with 702. Other anglers on the fringe of contention include Tour stalwarts such as Mark Rose, Brent Ehrler, Shinichi Fukae and Jason Christie.
Meyer concedes that Morgan, with his vast knowledge of the Tennessee River system and history of success on those venues, has a decided advantage going down the home stretch. The last two events will take place June 5-8 at Pickwick Lake and June 26-29 at Kentucky Lake.
Since Meyer turned pro in 2010, seven Tour events have been staged on the Tennessee chain. Morgan has finished 40th or better in every one of them and has ended up among the Top 6 twice. Meyer has three placements of 50th or lower, but has been 36th or higher in each of the last four.
He's finished ahead of Morgan just once in those seven outings. That was at Pickwick in 2011, where he was 16th and Morgan was 40th.
Although history doesn't favor him, Meyer's confidence is buoyed by his most recent performances on the chain.
"I feel a lot more comfortable there now, for sure," he said. "I have a better understanding of how the current works and when (the fish) feed. I remember my first year, seeing it and saying, 'Oh, my God, where do I begin?'
"Hopefully I've learned enough from my past experiences to make Top 10s in the next two. That's probably what it's going to take, and against Andy, that might not even be good enough."
A Friendly Duel
Like just about everybody in the game, Meyer is a sincere admirer of the easy-going Morgan from both a fishing and a personal perspective.
"I've talked to Andy at every event for the last 3 or 4 years," he said. "He's just a super-nice guy and I get along great with him.
"As a fisherman, he does it all. I'm obviously more of an open-water, clear-water guy, but Andy does everything so well and he really excels in the dirtier, shallower water. He can pick it apart so quick."
It'll be another 6 weeks before they resume their duel at Pickwick. Except for a trip to Lake Fork for the Toyota Texas Bass Classic (May 9-11), Meyer will spend most of that time in the Northern California foothills where he grew up and resides.
He'll do some fishing on the private lake in his housing development and likely make an excursion or two to a nearby reservoir that's been kicking out some monstrous bags of spotted bass this spring.
"After the TTBC, I just plan to relax and hang out with my wife. It's so nice to be home because I've been gone so much this year.
"Overall, I just feel really privileged to be where I'm at Ė it's all I can ask for. When we come back, I'll go out and do the best I can to beat the guy.
"If you beat him, you've earned it, for sure."