By John Johnson – BassFan Senior Editor
On the second day of fall, Justin Lucas realized the full rewards for his red-hot summer.
Lucas wrapped up a phenomenal second half of the 2018 season on Sunday by claiming the B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year title. He came into the AOY Championship event at Georgia’s Lake Chatuge with a 9-point lead in the standings and logged his fifth straight top-12 placement, finishing 7th for a 51-point margin of victory over good buddy and former road roommate Josh Bertrand.
“It’s just a relief more than anything,” said the 32-year-old Lucas, who was joined on stage for the trophy presentation by many family members and friends. “It’s something you start thinking you have a chance at winning at a certain point in the year – that if you don’t mess up and get on a streak, this could be the year.
“I was watching all the guys weighing in before me, a lot of amazing fishermen, and I was saying to myself, ‘this guy hasn’t won it, that guy hasn’t won it.’ That tells you how truly elite it is. Finding out that I’m only the 23rd guy to ever win it is an insane number that’s really hard to believe.”
Bertrand, who struggled badly over the first 2 days at Chatuge, didn’t compete on day 3, choosing to return to Arizona to be with wife Chantel, who is set to deliver their second child anytime now. His absence made no difference in the final standings, as he could not have surpassed Lucas by nine places on the final points list and could not have been passed by anyone beneath him.
“It was important for me to go out there and catch them really good today (he boxed 11-14 for a 39-00 total) so that Josh wouldn’t have any doubts,” Lucas said. “He’s a great friend and I wanted him to know that he wasn’t going to catch me. I didn’t want to make him feel bad by catching one fish or something like that.”
Bertrand said he was “super happy” for his pal.
Read more: bassfan.com