Winning the KBF AOY and the Ten in One Year – Who’s Done It?

Now, everyone knows that fishing can be unpredictable and the chances of winning every event you enter is not high. If it were that easy, there would most likely not be as many tournaments because the outcome would be predetermined based on one or two anglers always being the top performers. But there has been a trend over the last three years in KBF; the AOY has moved on to win the Ten.  

Winning either is an achievement in itself, but winning both is quite the accomplishment.

I talked with AOY and Ten winners Rus Snyders (2019 AOY and the Ten in 2020), Cody Milton (2018 AOY and the Ten in 2019) and Jamie Denison (2017 AOY and the Ten in 2018) to get their thoughts on what might be happening. I wondered if there was some secret they could share, some mystical fish sauce or trick since they had won both.

KBF AOY and the Ten Winner #1: Jamie Denison

Jamie Denison will try to tell you that it was just luck. 

“To be honest with you, it was pure coincidence. I had to fish the Ten and do well to win AOY.  It was just the way it fell that day. It was a six-way tie, and the tiebreaker was the Ten. It was a tough day. I was in the right place, the right time with the right frame of mind and got five bites and caught them. Now I had put myself in the position to win, but I just executed that day.”

But, talk with all of them long enough you will learn that all three anglers who won AOY and the Ten share one thing – confidence. They believed they could win, and fished like it. Jamie shared his philosophy on the water.  

“90 percent of fishing is between your ears.  It never enters my mind that I am not going to catch five fish.  That thought never enters my mind until I set my rod down and tell myself; ‘Well, I fell a little short today’.  That thought never enters my mind.  If I have five minutes left and I need two or three fish, I still think that I can do it – I never think that I can’t do it.  If you’re thinking that way, you are beat before you leave the ramp.  I hear guys saying that I don’t know if I can get five today…if you think that, do yourself a favor buddy, sleep in…’cause you are beat!”

“Boat position is important, but not paying attention is as critical.  If you are at some weird angle and have your line out…then get distracted, you will miss some fish.  But even when you make those mistakes, you cannot fish any less hard.  And until I load the boat without five, I never think it is over.”

That mindset seems to work well for him.  In 2017 he won the Ten, sealed up AOY, won the trail and challenge series championship. If he had won the National Championship, he would have won all of the major events!

Jamie Denison’s season saw a tie between several anglers going into the Ten, so the AOY was not yet determined. KBF changed the point system, and introduced the trail, challenge and pro championships. This made choosing the AOY a more definitive process; not leaving it to be decided in conjunction with the Ten.  

KBF AOY and the Ten Winner #2: Cody Milton

Cody Milton says that the momentum rolling from AOY into the Ten is also a factor. 

“I think it is absolutely ending the year ‘that on fire’ to a degree. I mean, it wasn’t really that way for me, but it seems that it totally was for Jamie and Rus. I think Rus had won the last four tournaments before that and Jamie was winning too.”

“I had a really good year, then a lot of craziness happened, the last few tournaments I got really sick. So, it was really odd for me. But I think it is just you pick it up where you left it. I mean I had fished Bienville before and had success, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know it. I had won there before so I felt good going down there.”

“I remember that Jay Wallen almost did it, he had a lead the year he won AOY, but lost the Ten on Bienville the last day.”

KBF AOY and the Ten Winner #3: Rus Snyders

Rus was the first to use the word confidence although it had already been said in different ways by Cody and Jamie. 

“Fishing. A lot of it is confidence! I mean you get the momentum too – you get on these rolls where you stop guessing, it is just so mental. You just get confident and stop second guessing things. You just believe that you can figure it out because you have been figuring it out.  Just a very positive mental attitude. That just carries over.”  

“The Ten was the first tourney I had fished since the trail championships in Lacrosse. I went out west and did some saltwater fishing, only getting out a few hours locally. I spent time working on getting my truck ready, organizing gear and doing some power washing jobs. I spent fifty hours working on the roof of the house I live in, and built a chicken coop. I didn’t stop thinking about the Ten, I studied and stuff, but I was making myself hungry to go fish. I didn’t want to burn myself out; I wanted to have the drive to do the work, have a clear head.”  

And all of it paid off as he won the Ten in impressive fashion.

“All the best anglers get on rolls, then it ends at some point. So you ride it while you can. Enjoy it and soak it all in. Just be grateful while you can” was how Rus explained how he feels about the next year.  “I wasn’t going to dedicate this year to fishing, that wasn’t my plan, but with the success I had, I am going all out and not doing as many power washing jobs!”

Rus, Jamie and Cody agree that they are shooting for the top spots again. With their mindset, they will most certainly enjoy continued success. This year will have some challenges with all that is going on in the world, but keep your eyes on all three; check the KBF standings and I bet if they are not at the top, they will be just behind the leaders.

This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert

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Mike Cheatham


May 2016, sat in my first kayak. October 2016, skunked in my first tournament. Spring of 2017, placed 11th in the KBF Open and have chased the addiction since. Fishing is the one place my mind gets quiet, the place I have always found peace. To do it competitively with a great bunch of folks is just a bonus. To have an opportunity to combine my love for fishing with writing...I feel like I have finally found a place in this world! I do have the support of a wonderful woman who understands my need to be on the water; she supports my dreams is truly good.

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