Canterbury Chronicles, part 1: St. Johns and Lanier

This is the first installment in a five-part series retracing the steps that led Elite Series pro Scott Canterbury to his first Bassmaster Angler of the Year title in 2019. We begin with the first stops of the season.

Achieving greatness is rare, and typically only attainable down a long and winding road. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Scott Canterbury achieved greatness by becoming the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, and his road was fraught with the ups and downs and twists and turns every other angler faces on the way to glory. This is the first installment in a five-part series looking back at Canterbury’s journey to the top through the 10 events that comprised the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series.

Of the 10 fisheries along the 2019 Elite Series schedule, Canterbury only had prior experience at half of them when the schedule was announced. The five fisheries unknown to him at the time were the St. Johns River, Winyah Bay, the St. Lawrence River, Cayuga and Tenkiller. Prior to the off-limits periods, Canterbury spent a two days riding both the expansive St. Johns River and Winyah Bay, but hardly fished, and never caught a keeper at either location during those times.

He also spent a couple days on both Cayuga Lake and the St. Lawrence River prior to the off limits for those events but was absent the opportunity to do the same at Tenkiller. That particular event was unique because the Fort Gibson tournament was moved to Tenkiller after the off limits had already begun due to flooding on the aforementioned Fort Gibson.

In looking at the road map to the top of the mountain at the start of the season, Canterbury saw anything but a straight and clear path.

“AOY is a goal we all set at the beginning of the season,” Canterbury said. “But it’s the kind of goal where you’re not disappointed at the end of the year if you don’t reach it. And you don’t even really think about it at much early in the year because so much can happen.”

St. Johns River

Practice was tough for Canterbury along with the majority of the field leading up to the 2019 Elite Series opener. Warm weather had the air feeling right, but the water temps were still playing catchup.

“After practice, nobody expected the tournament to go as well as it did,” he said.

During practice, Canterbury had found a few shellbars where prespawn fish were staging. He also had a few bites flipping in Rodman Reservoir. By the start of the event, he thought he’d be able to piece together 12 pounds a day on lipless crankbaits, and perhaps cull up by punching grass mats.

However, a rare off day between practice and competition was scheduled for the Elite Series preseason meeting. That day was accompanied by another heavy dose of sunshine, which was needed to set the spawn in motion and set the fishery on fire.