By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

Jordan Lee has four Top-11 finishes in six MLF Bass Pro Tour events this season and no placement lower than 23rd on his ledger. Still, he's not leading the Angler of the Year race and there's a hefty number of points separating him from the guy who is.

That's how good Jacob Wheeler has been in 2022. Historically good. Ridiculously good. Mind-bogglingly good.

Wheeler, who's sat unchallenged atop the BassFan World Rankings for more than three calendar years, hasn't won a tournament this year (he was a three-time winner during his 2021 AOY campaign), but he's been among the 10 anglers who fished the final day in every outing except one. He appears to be on the fast track to his second straight points title as the BPT heads to Cayuga Lake in New York this week following a two-month break.

Cayuga is the second-to-last event on the schedule. The campaign will conclude at Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota next month.

There's always the chance that Wheeler could falter in one or both upcoming events and allow Lee to claim his second AOY crown in three seasons. Lee trails Wheeler by 38 points (380-342), with Andy Morgan a distant third at 316.

The two-time Bassmaster Classic champion certainly is counting on that, though.

"It's just incredible fishing against that guy right now," Lee said. "It's really impressive, but it's frustrating for me and for a lot of other guys, I'm sure. You've just got to tip your hat to him.

"We'll see how these last two events go, but it's gonna be tough."

For his part, Wheeler isn't taking anything for granted.

MLF/Josh Gassmann
Photo: MLF/Josh Gassmann

Jordan Lee has finished no lower than 23rd in any Bass Pro Tour event this year.

"It looks like I've got a good lead, but I know who the people behind me are and I've got a lot of respect for Jordan, Andy, (4th-place Jesse) Wiggins and that whole crew," he said. "This is a funny sport with the streaks you go through and things can go bad. I've missed a cut every single year of my career to this point, so it happens.

"I can say that I've put some time and effort into these last two and I feel like I have a chance to do well. I don't have a lot of history at Cayuga – just one Cup event where I didn't do very well – but I went up there for a day and looked around real quick. I didn't understand the grass when I was there before and I fished a lot of hard cover and docks and that's not where the groups of fish live."

He said he won't take a conservative approach to either this event or Mille Lacs, the latter being a venue he's much more familiar with. Obviously, any changes to the way he's been going about things would be foolhardy.

Also, he'd like to add to his trophy collection before the season concludes.

"I don't want to play it too safe because that's how you lose," he said. "Yeah, there's the battle for the Angler of the Year going on, but there's also the battle to win that event and I want to give myself a chance to win each event.

"Winning these last two would be the perfect ending to this season, but I'm a realist and I know the odds of that happening aren't great. I'll just make the best decisions that I can as I go."

Lee has a bit more experience at Cayuga that Wheeler – he finished 2nd to Kevin VanDam there in a 2016 Elite Series event. He's not counting on that to give him any sort of advantage, however.

"I don't typically pre-fish for tournaments, but I went there last fall after I didn't do well at St. Clair and the schedule had just come out," he said. "It was still kind of the same – it's a unique lake, for sure.

"I don't think experience is really going to play for anybody because nobody really lives close to it. It's one of those lakes on the schedule that's anybody's game."