Champions Tour Angler of the Year Winner’s Trip
Both the Champions Tour 2019 Angler of the Year, John Figi and the 2020 winner, Matt Peters decided to head on down to Florida and cash in on their Angler of the Year fishing trip with Scott Bonnema at the same time this spring.
Winning the Champions Tour Angler of the Year award is something that all the anglers set out to win each year. In fishing it is one of the most coveted awards, no matter the circuit, series, or tour. To win an Angler of the Year means you fished all year with consistency and did not have any bad events. To fish different bodies of water, and catch them each time, under all circumstances, to have quality finishes against many of the best anglers in the Midwest. It is a true test of an angler’s ability to always go catch them.
The trip was filled with laughs, cheers, birthdays, fishing, good food, and many more great moments.
Matt and Jen arrived first in Florida and were picked up at the airport by Scott and Nancy. The evening began with great food and drinks, before getting settled in at the house in Islamorada. The first few days were calling for big winds so fishing would have to wait until the ocean calmed down a bit.
The group first celebrated Jen’s 40th birthday down in Marathon Key, with an amazing breakfast at the Green Turtle and then spending the afternoon at Island Fish Company having more amazing food and drink. “The fresh sea food and fish along with great drinks by the ocean are hard to beat and Scott and Nancy do it right,” said Matt. “Easter Sunday rolled around and Scott, Nancy, Jen, and I got up for a 6 am sunrise service on the beach. This was an amazing way to celebrate Easter, we will forever remember that Easter Sunday and are so glad Scott and Nancy asked us to join them for the service.”
Scott, John, and Matt fished all over the Gulf side over the four days and got to tug on many different species of fish. “We even took the girls out for a day of tarpon fishing, but the tarpon didn’t want to cooperate,” said Matt. “But the sun and time on the water felt so good.”
The last full day on the water will be a day that the three anglers will not soon forget. Scott wanted to go back and chase grouper, snook, reds, jacks, tarpon, and whatever else we might come across. “Scott made a plan based on the tides and the conditions, something all us anglers strive to do when we get on the water in the morning and he executed the plan to perfection,” stated Matt.
Following the morning net throw to stock up for bait, each of the stops Scott allotted a set amount of time and then the trio was off to the next spot where the tide would be “getting right.” John and Matt caught some nice grouper and then moved onto jacks busting on the surface and were able to hook up on some incredible top water blow ups. “It was so much fun to pull snook out from under the trees and have them just drag peeling out as you tried to wrestle them in,” said Matt. “This is a day none of us will soon forget and a great way to end an amazing trip in Islamorada.”
Having won the Champions Tour Angler of the Year award in 2019, but because of COVID-19, John Figi’s trip was pushed back until this spring. The wait was worth it, as he got to take in the trip with fellow Champions Tour competitor Matt Peters. “This trip was amazing, and I can’t thank Scott and Nancy enough for their hospitality,” said John. “Catching my first goliath grouper was an amazing experience that I won’t forget.
Matt is poised to defend his Angler of the Year title in 2021 against yet another stacked field of anglers. “There will be multiple champions of events this year, but only one Angler of the Year,” said Matt.
This Angler of the Year award is so unique, in that you get to do something otherwise you might never do otherwise. “The experiences and memories made in the Keys at Scott and Nancy’s are ones we will cherish forever. It is an amazing award that I personally feel is the best award that I have ever won. Scott and Nancy are such amazing hosts, and I would tell anyone that thinks it would be better to have a “cash” Angler of the Year award to watch what you wish for. Going to Islamorada to Scott and Nancy’s allows you to make memories, do things you might not otherwise do, and go away with the hopes that someday you can return to do it all again. I will forever have with me the memories, smiles, laughs, fish catches, and moments from the trip. I will be sharing those for many years to come.”
Figi has the same feeling on the Angler of the Year award trip to Islamorada, “having been on this trip now, I’m eager to win Angler of the Year again so I can get back to Florida, this award has so much more meaning than any check could.”
“From both John and I, we cannot thank all the folks behind the scenes that help make Champions Tour what it is, everyone that puts in the time to make this Tour what it is, truly makes the events run top notch.