With the conclusion of the recent Toho Bassmaster Elite Series, Derek Remitz cemented his domination of the BassFan Rookie of the Year (ROY) race and clinched the title by a landslide. Remitz, who hails from Minnesota but now lives in Alabama, finished 61st at Toho.
BassFan's Rookie of the Year award was the first of its kind in the sport, and remains the only such award that measures strictly true rookies who fish either the Elite Series or FLW Tour.
The Rookie of the Year Award confirms what many fans of the sport already know – Remitz had a sensational season that delivered him from obscurity into the national spotlight. His peers began to call him "Wolverine" after he recorded three Top 5s in his first four events. They said he was relentless. Fans dubbed him "Lamb Chop" – in reference to his mutton-chop-style sideburns.
Remitz led every edition of this year's Rookie of the Year race, and won by a final 35-plus-point margin.
"I really couldn't imagine doing this well," Remitz said. "There were lots of ups and downs, but overall it was a good season."
He added: "Winning the BassFan Rookie award is cool. It helps quite a bit. It shows the most consistent rookie. It's not as big of a deal as Angler of the Year, but it's cool to know you're the Rookie of the Year."
Asked to name the most important factor in his success this year, he said: "Just trying to learn whatever I could in the little bit of time we're out there (for practice), then fishing as hard as I possibly could."
Remitz was the only rookie to fish this year's three Bassmaster Majors (which didn't factor into the Rookie Race).
FLW Tour rookie Bryan Thrift, of North Carolina, didn't fish Toho, but based on movement around him, climbs one spot to finish the Rookie Race in 2nd. Thrift finished 2nd at the Travis FLW Tour to start the year.
South Carolina BASS rookie Casey Ashley finished 83rd at Toho and slips one spot to finish the Rookie Race in 3rd. Highlights of his season include a win at Smith Mt., plus a Top 12 cut at Clarks Hill.
New York BASS rookie Matt Sphar improved significantly as the season wore on. He finished 29th at Toho, but in the end, drops one spot to finish 4th in the Rookie Race.
An 8th-place finish at Toho helps Texas rookie James Niggemeyer climb three spots to finish the Rookie Race in 5th. He relocated to Texas several years ago from California.
Remitz joins these previous BassFan ROY winners: California's Jared Lintner (2006), Pennsylvania's Dave Wolak (2005), Japan's Shinichi "Shin" Fukae (2004), California's Mike Reynolds (2003) and Ohio's Frank Scalish (2002).