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Thursday, March 24, 2016
2016 California Open | Day One

George Kramer's annual top 40 California Bass Anglers Listing
Ehrler named best bass fisherman on California Top 40
20th Anniversary Edition

HE’S NUMBER ONE — Brent Ehrler is honored as the Best Bass Angler in California.


Special to Western Outdoor News

In this, the 20th anniversary of the California Top 40 Bass Anglers List, the task was almost impossible in determining the best bass anglers in the Golden State. Whether by peer references, point standings, or merely the “eye test,” our Bass Angler Assessment Team (BAAT) tried to find some separation between so many fishermen with worthy, but hardly lights-out performances.

Even on the biggest stages of national competition, the margins have never been closer. Yet, after much debate, Brent Ehrler of Redlands has been named the Number 1 bass angler in the Golden State on the strength of his two-circuit successes. He was third on the FLW Tour, just behind Cody Meyer, but his 7th place finish in the Bassmaster Northern Opens earned him qualification in the prestigious B.A.S.S. Elite Series in 2015. That right there was the difference.

Once again, the test was to find who showed the best among tournament anglers, big bass specialists and fishing guides. The only difference from previous editions over the last 20 years, is that the committee bowed to concerns that those fishing ponds or private lakes were not subject to the same monitoring as those on busy public waters. Therefore, those specialists were not included here.

Tournament anglers take up the majority of the top-40 spots this year, but the truth remains, tournaments cut both ways. Good finishes get the hoopla, but for the sake of ranking, bad finishes count against the angler. Figuring out the value of the anglers’ year-long performances, strong or weak, team or solo, in fields large or small, was the primary challenge.

And here is the final result. Go ahead and take a look at the names of the best California bass fishermen in 2014!

Top 40 - 20th Edition

Brent Ehrler, Redlands — In a very close race, Brent was one place behind Cody Meyer on the FLW Tour points, then took third in the Forrest Wood Cup. He also finished 7th in B.A.S.S. Northern Opens to earn a spot in the Bassmaster Elites in 2015.

Skeet Reese, Auburn — The highest finishing Californian in the Elites this year at 7th, Reese stayed in the race for B.A.S.S. AOY to near the end. Is he getting older — or better?

CODY MEYER FOUND himself ranked #3 in this year’s edition of the California Top 40, finishing in the runner-up spot on this year’s FLW Tour.

Cody Meyer, Auburn — A former #1 in the Golden State, his runner-up spot on the FLW Tour this year was not quite enough to earn the top spot on the Top 40. But any year could be THE year for Meyer, he’s that good.

Jared Lintner, Paso Robles — How close was this thing? Lintner was just 6 points behind Reese in the Bassmaster Elites, and that puts him way up here among Californians.

Matt Allen, Vacaville — A combo guide/big fish specialist, Matt crushed both big largemouth and spots this year — really, like nobody else out there.

KYLE GROVER WAS named Angler of the Year in the FLW Rayovac Series, and coupled with his strong showing in the 2014 U.S. Open, found himself well within this year’s top 10, at #6.

Kyle Grover, Trabuco Canyon — Angler of the Year in the FLW Western Rayovac Series, even with only three events, he also had a good showing in the U.S. Open.

Mark Daniels, Jr., Fairfield — One of the hardest guys to rank. He blew chunks on the FLW Tour, but was 12th in the Northern Rayovacs to qualify for the championship, and won a Western Rayovac contest at the Delta, earning 86k overall.

Gabe Bolivar, Oceanside — They can argue this one with so few events on his calendar, but some team wins and a Top 10 U.S. Open finish; he’s the best tournament angler in the county right now.

Chad Martin, Nicolaus — Wouldn’t recognize this guy if he walked in my kitchen — but apparently the Rayovac weighmaster sees him all the time. Big year at 3rd in the standings.

Jimmy Reese, Witter Springs — Pencil this guy in every year; he’s often more reliable than his flamboyant, Bassmaster brother.

Jason Borofka, Salinas — Not a 4-star year for this guy, but ranking bass fishermen in 2014 is like hunting Easter eggs in a bog.

Kevin Norling, Poway — Here’s the new poster boy for “Big fish in a small pond.” But he was a really big fish in 2014.

Aaron Britt, Yuba City — True, he won the final Rayovac event of the year, finishing 19th overall, but he was also strong (4th) in the CTT standings.

Wade Curtiss, Meadow Vista — Steady, not flashy, his eighth spot in the Rayovacs was no accident.

Joe Marshall, San Diego — Known as “Joe Fish,” this busy guide has to catch them before, during and after every tournament on the little City Lakes.

Ken Phillips, Antioch — Riding his 9th place finish in the Western Rayovacs. Maybe you can get his autograph?

Pete Marino, Moreno Valley — Another guide/team tournament angler who, outside of Norling, had the most impressive, multiple win season.

Greg Gutierrez, Red Bluff — Here’s a tough one to figure. He was only 34th in the Rayovacs but earned Angler of the Year in the 5-event (five different waters) California Tournament Trail. He lands here.

Jerred Jennings, Stockton — We keep hearing more and more about this guy and had to take notice when he cashed more than 13k while finishing 10th in the Rayovacs.

Larry Hemphill, Yuba City — Back on the list again, the veteran guide on Clear Lake and Berryessa has a full menu of trip types like a fine restaurant. And he serves big portions.

John Fuqua, Oxnard — He was a beast when he spent most of his time on Lake Casitas, but has branched out and finished 11th among the Rayovac contenders, collecting 11k this year.

Jason Milligan, Shasta Lake — Cashes in at the locals’ expense on his home water, but proved he can fish with the traveling pros, taking 12th in the Western Rayovacs.

Mike Walsh, San Diego — Always seems to be on fish in the team ranks where he was rated third among San Diegans. Very tough to beat.

Jon Strelic, El Cajon — A soft-spoken pro with national experience and rated fourth among San Diego County anglers.

Wade Strelic, El Cajon — Like father, like son. Just too hard to leave the 24-year old off, especially since his local ranking put him second in the county.

Butch Brown, Castaic — While long known for his big bass catches (and there were some early at little Castaic) he even went as far north as Isabella for double-digit fish this year.

Ed Arledge, Valley Center — This old Navy man just won’t go away. Long a fixture in San Diego, he just missed pulling the upset in the Havasu Rayovac this spring. Thirteenth overall in the points.

Wayne Breazeale, Kelsey­ville — Second only to Gutierrez in the CTT points race, this guy continues to succeed.

Bill Siemental, Castaic — Okay, not his most memorable year. Some team wins fishing solo, then a broken boat, but an ICAST best of show winning designer and he just inked a national Mercury deal.

Randy Pringle, Salida — One of his best years for client success, Randy is known for instructional guiding at the highest level and was strong in 2014.

Tom Leedom, Fallbrook — Fifth among San Diegans according to It wasn’t his best season, but it was pretty darn good.

Dean Jamieson, Chula Vista — He may not have been the only guy with a 15-plus this year, but he A-rigged and swimbaited his way through an impressive season.

Jamond Andrews, Oakley — Proving he can power fish with the best of them, and with any team partner, thank you.

Jon Demonet, Downey — Won his Anglers Marine division at DVL, the TST Tour­nament of Champions on Havasu and finished second in that AOY race. Enough to make the list.

Chris Studinger, San Marcos — Willing to fish out of San Diego County, he was top 5 material on DVL, respectable in his local waters and even went all the way to the Clear Lake Open for a 13th spot.

Todd Kline, San Clemente — Word is he’ll be waving good-bye to the co-angler ranks where he was Angler of the Year for the second straight year in FLW out West.

Bryant Smith, Castro Valley — No big numbers in the points standings (only 23rd in Rayovacs), but a number of outstanding individual finishes around NorCal. We expect much more next season.

Eric Elshere, Camarillo — A fixture at Lake Casitas, but really needs to get out of town. We’ll give him one more chance to break out.

Guy Williams, Menifee — He got his plaques and his points so we put him here.

(tie) Ross England, Kelsey­ville; Bob Mysky, Lakeport — Two highly respected guides at Clear Lake that needed to be recognized. Proves you don’t need any hardware to be ranked among the best in the state.

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