Derek Remitz is running away with the Rookie of the Year title sprinting off even but quietly and with much humility.
"I never expected to do this well," Remitz said. "I just wanted to make some checks. This is incredible and I don't know how to explain it."
With three top 12s in four tournaments, including a victory in his first Elite tournament on Lake Amistad, Remitz is ahead of second-place Casey Ashley 1,015 to 847. Third-place Bryan Hudgins has 811.
"Hundreds and hundreds of points," Ashley said smiling. He had just finished eighth in the Pride of Georgia presented by Evan Williams Bourbon on his home water, Clarks Hill Lake, and he lost ground in the rookie race. Remitz finished fifth.
"He's got to stub his toe every once in a while so I can have a chance to catch him," Ashley said. "No, he's a real good fisherman. He's very versatile. He can catch them any kind of way and he's going to find them. You can count on that."
And Remitz' lead is not for a lack of competition. This has been dubbed "The Year of the Rookie," but at some point they might have to replace "Rookie" with "Remitz." When asked why the success among all the rookies, both Remitz and Hudgins, who also finished in the top 12 on Sunday, pointed to the Bassmaster Open tour.
"They only take the top 5 [to fish the Elite Series], so you know that they are all quality fishermen," Remitz said. "They're obviously ready, or at least talented enough to fish against the Elite guys."
And those talented anglers are banding together. Ashley travels with Jason Williamson and Marty Robinson, and he said they're not shy about sharing information.
"They are both exceptional fisherman," said Ashley, who also had Hudgins staying with him this week. "It's a well-rounded friendship. If one of us beats the other, we just take it and go. You can't do this alone."
Another explanation might be that the Elite series anglers are digging their own grave. Hudgins said he grew up watching the pros on television and learning from them through various outlets. And he's not finished.
"You're always learning something," Hudgins said. He attributed a lot of his success this season to what he learned at the first stop in Amistad. "I don't care if you are Kevin VanDam, you're going to learn something every day that you are on the water."
At this point, VanDam is learning to watch his back for rookies.