Former Hayden High and Washburn University bass angler Thomas Heinen made Flint Hills Bass Association history this fall, becoming the first nonboater in recent memory to win Angler of the Year in the club.
This also marks the fifth straight year Heinen has won Nonboater of the Year.
"This year has had its ups and downs due to COVID-19," Heinen said. "It has set back a lot of dates on the 2020 fishing schedule, but things seemed to work out. My goal at the beginning of the year was to win Nonboater of the Year again. My first three tournaments went well for me, fortunately, and I had some good points starting out.
"After I realized I was leading nonboater points, I set another goal, which was to win Angler of the Year of the club. I knew it was a long shot of a goal being a nonboater, but it was definitely achievable. I’m very thankful for the support of mentors and friends I have had along the way."
Heinen finished first in the standings, which were finalized Friday morning, despite a good effort from runner-up Tate Herrman to make up the difference in the Sept. 27 regular-season finale on La Cygne Reservoir in Linn County. Herrman and teammate Matt Brown finished first at that event with a bag weight of 18.34 pounds.
Herrman (296) came up two points shy of the AOY award in the final standings, followed by fellow Topekans Richard Heflin (284), Rue Armstrong (282) and Larry Brumley (275).
This year's awards ceremony has been canceled because of COVID-19, and the Classic was postponed until a time to be determined.
"I am very fortunate to have won the 2020 Angler of the Year title, along with the Nonboater of the Year title," Heinen said. "This wouldn’t have been possible without great sponsors who helped me along the way: Falcon Rods, Z-Man Fishing Products, Yakima Bait Company, K-Guard Leaf Free Gutter Systems, Pro-Cure Bait Scents, Davin Electric, BJ McGivern, C&C Body Shop, Trophy Bass Company, Bob Brown’s Auto Services and Carhartt. This year’s fishing season is winding down with only a few events left in my other tournament trails I fish. I just hope I can keep the momentum going into next fishing season."