By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
With eight of the nine Bassmaster Elite Series regular-season events in the books, veteran Brian Snowden is in good position to qualify for his seventh Bassmaster Classic and first since the 2015 edition. He'd like to nail down his slot in next week's finale at Oklahoma's Lake Tenkiller rather than having it riding on the AOY Championship at the end of the month at Michigan's Lake St. Clair – a place that hasn't treated him particularly well on his last couple of visits.
With two top-20 finishes on his ledger, the Missourian is 35th in the Angler of the Year standings. The cutoff for the Classic is likely to fall at 42nd place.
"I've got 44 points worth of cushion over 43rd place," he said. "I'd love to make that 51 points and then I wouldn't have to worry about what happens at St. Clair, but all I can do is prepare the best I can and try not to worry about the points."
No Complaints so Far
Snowden actually considers himself rather fortunate to be where he is in the points standings, as there have been multiple events in which "the deal" completely eluded him.
"The season has had some good moments and also some times when I've struggled through both practice and the tournament," he said. "My hat's off to the guys who've struggled in practice and still ended up making the right adjustments to do well. A lot of times that doesn't pan out for me and I don't know why.
"It's been an eye-opening experience – after 20 years of doing this competitively, there are still tournaments where I just entirely miss it."
One of those came in the previous event at Cayuga Lake, which came on the heels of his season-best 10th-place showing at the St. Lawrence River. He had no clue that the derby could be won from water as deep as winner Jamie Hartman and other top finishers fished and ended up in 52nd place among the 75-angler field.
"It looked like there was so much stuff that was better than that," he said. "I'm on a grass line and Hartman and (4th-place finisher David) Mullins are way out there and I'm making fun of them, like 'What are they fishing out there?'
"I idled a bunch of that stuff and it didn't seem like there was anything there. It's not like there's a bunch of rock or anything out there."
Lake Hartwell, where he was 58th, was another downer. His most depressing memory of that one was watching a 4-pounder he'd hooked on a topwater popper come off on the back side of a floating log after one of the bait's hooks had become attached to the wood. In the Texas Fest derby at Lake Fork he lost three fish in the 5- to 8-pound class.
Snowden is one of five anglers who've competed in every Elite Series event since the circuit's inception in 2006 (Rick Clunn, Steve Kennedy, Bill Lowen and John Crews are the others). They've encountered a bunch of new faces this year after 68 former Elite competitors moved over to the inaugural MLF Bass Pro Tour, and Snowden said he's enjoyed interacting with a lot of the newcomers.
"It's been a trying year in a lot of ways with a lot of off-the-water distractions and all the changes that have gone on," he said. "But once the season got started, there's been a lot more respect (among the anglers), and lot more laughing in the weigh-in line and a lot of camaraderie between the newer and older guys.
"It's turned out to be a nice, relaxing season getting to know everyone and having everybody on the same page now."
Now he just wants to conclude the campaign with a Classic berth in hand. The 50th edition of the event will take place next March at Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
"I couldn't ask for a better one (to make his return to the event). Working the show for the past several years, I've always felt blessed that I had sponsors who wanted me there to help, but it's so much nicer when you're walking across the stage.
"Guntersville is a fun place to fish – everybody catches fish and you can fish your strengths and do what you want to do. It's not deep and it doesn't have blueback herring. It's just a standard textbook bass lake and there's nothing squirrely about it."