With the conclusion of the 2009 regular season after Sunday’s tournament on Oneida Lake, N.Y., the brunt of the qualifying spots for the 2010 Bassmaster Classic have been determined.
The top 37 anglers in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings make the field.
Only three Oklahomans are in: Tommy Biffle of Wagoner (8th in the AOY standings), Jeff Kriet of Ardmore (14th) and Terry Butcher of Talala (35th).
Among the notable Oklahoma anglers missing the cut was Butcher’s brother-in-law, Edwin Evers of Talala.
The 2010 Bassmaster Classic is set for Feb. 19-21 on Lay Lake out of Birmingham, Ala.
Kriet finished second in the Elite Series event at Oneida Lake: 2 pounds, 4 ounces behind Texas angler Chad Griffin.
Kriet won $25,000.
Biffle finished eighth at Oneida, winning $12,500.
Biffle’s eighth-place finish in the AOY standings also advances him to fish in Bassmaster’s post-season tournaments next month in Alabama. The top 12 anglers in the AOY standings qualified.
Butcher made it into the Bassmaster Classic for the first time in his career based on his 10th place finish at Oneida, a pay day of $11,500.
Butcher said he was relieved at finally making his first Bassmaster Classic.
“It’s been a very stressful week,” said the 38-year-old former bull rider. “On the water today I caught them pretty quickly, so I was pretty confident. But then I was still a little nervous because I thought the door was still open for the other guys.
“The Classic has been my ultimate goal since I’ve been fishing. I’m not the kind of guy who shows a lot of emotion, but I’m very excited.”
Butcher said when he arrived at Oneida this past week he believed he had no chance to qualify for the Classic, even if he won the tournament.
“I’ve always felt left out,” he said. “And now I’ve made it. Plus I get to fish for $500,000, that’s the part I’m really excited about. I’ll probably take a week or two off then start doing some homework.”