Original Caption: With only one tournament remaining on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee, Larry Nixon of Hemphill, Texas (left) and Denny Brauer of Camdenton, MO., are in a rod-to-rod duel for the BASS Angler-of-the-Year title. The Times Sunday May 26, 1985. No photo credit.

Looking through the news archives I came across an image that piqued my interest.  The article was in a 1985 Shreveport-Bossier The Times newspaper and it headlined two well known sticks, Larry Nixon and Denny Brauer.  Today in Nixon Brauer AOY Duel, we’ll take a look at the contents of the article and a third angler that was essentially written off.

The article, written by award-winning outdoor writer Reeves Feild, was titled, “Nixon’s Stock Climbs on Bass Exchange,” and was printed May 26, 1985.  The significance of the date is there was only one event left in the Bassmaster AOY race.  During this era, AOY was determined by total weight over the entire season.  Nixon was in the lead with 155-03, Denny Brauer was in second place with 141-04, and Roland Martin was in third place by more than 21 pounds (133-15).

The final event of the season would be held at Lake Okeechobee, Roland Martin’s home lake.  But Feild and Nixon had written off Roland because of the 21-pound deficit.  They were more worried, and rightfully so, about Brauer.

After practicing before the cutoff, Nixon was confident he could put 35 to 36 pounds in the boat, which would require Brauer to catch 50 pounds.  It would also require, Roland to weigh close to 60 pounds.

By this time in his career, Nixon had won two AOYs (1980 and 1982), and the BASS Masters Classic (1983).  He was fishing at the top of his game in 1985 and had racked up an impressive scorecard with a third, two fourths, and a fifth-place finish.  His worst finish was a 12th place.  He had every right to be confident going into the last event.

On the other hand, Brauer’s year was scattered with finishes between 62nd and first-place, yet he had the weight to keep him in the running for 1985 AOY.  Unlike Nixon, however, he’d yet to win an AOY or a Classic.

Nixon’s prediction of weighing in the mid-30s was pretty spot on.  He weighed 33-14, which added to his AOY weight bumped him up to 189-01.  Unfortunately, he finished in the 23rd spot, well down the list of anglers.  Brauer had a dismal event, placing 141st and weighing only 15-09.

Roland Martin, fishing his home waters, didn’t let the home-lake jinx get to him.  He finished in the second spot with a total of 56-15, increasing his year-long total weight to 190-14, 1-pound, 13-ounces more than Nixon.  This marked Martin’s record-breaking 9th career Angler of the Year award.  Martin had the event won if not for two dead fish penalties, accounting for four ounces.  He was beaten by Rick Clunn who weighed 57-01.

Brauer would have to wait for his Angler of the Year award for another two years, when he’d win it in 1987.

Roland Martin’s nine Bassmaster Angler of the Year awards still stands as the mark to beat, with Kevin Van Dam the only angler close with seven.  With KVD’s retirement this year, the next in line to take a shot at it would be Gerald Swindle or Brandon Palaniuk, who each have two.  I think it’s safe to say that Roland’s record is safe at this point.

If you’d like to read the entire article, it’s posted below.

Reeves Feild's Bassmaster Angler of the Year update going into the final event of the 1985 Bassmaster Trail. The Times Sunday May 26, 1985.