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Published September 22, 2015

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (September 22, 2015) – After the dust settled on the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour (NWT) championship event at Devils Lake, North Dakota, pro-angler Mark Courts and co-angler John Hoyer emerged as the Lucas Oil Angler of the Year Award (AOY) winners. Along with custom Lucas Oil AOY rings, both anglers earned paid entry fees for the 2016 NWT season.

Pro-angler Mark Courts (right) and co-angler john Hoyer (left) pose with their Angler of the Year trophies at the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour championship event at Devils Lake, N.D., on Sept. 19. (For a high-res image, please contact Greg Duncan)

Courts has chased an AOY title for his 16 years of professional competition. After a number of tournament wins and close finishes in other AOY races, Courts can check this one off of his list.

“This was a huge relief,” said Courts. “It’s something I have strived for my whole career. That’s the one title I didn’t have. It’s something I am really proud of. Being that angler that stayed consistent enough throughout the year to win that title. I’m glad to have it up on the mantle.”
Courts made the decision to step up his game and become more aggressive with his decision making and tactics.
“I fished really aggressively all year,” said Courts. “I took some risks that worked out, which is always a part of being on top at the end. The one thing about tournament angling is there is always decision making involved. All of these decisions have to work out and this year it did.”
There were times during the season where Courts made mistakes but he didn’t let the setbacks put him in a losing mindset.
“I look at Green Bay where I lost a couple of crucial fish the second day,” said Courts. “That cost me some points, but I didn’t let it bother me. When we got to Devils Lake, I had a one point lead. That first day was where I almost mentally beat myself. I stopped and took a break to refocus. Then I settled in and started catching fish.”
Courts competed in all four NWT events and managed to place in the top 25 in each tournament. This consistency was key to topping the AOY leaderboard.
“It was one of those years where I was really consistent,” said Courts. “I fished really well and, for the most part, I fished really clean.”
John Hoyer finished first in the AOY race for the co-angler category with four straight top-10 finishes. After placing second at Lake City, Hoyer placed high again with third place at Leech Lake. The co-angler finished the regular season at Green Bay with another third-place podium call and placed fifth in the championship at Devils Lake.
“There’s obviously a lot of luck involved in the draws,” said Hoyer. “I tried to stay completely positive the whole time.”
Hoyer won over $10,000 fishing as a co-angler this season and plans to fish the pro category in 2016.
“This has kind of been the final push for me to finally go pro,” Hoyer said. “Fishing as a co-angler is the fastest crash course you can get as far as learning. Each pro does it just a little bit differently.”
Hoyer also credits his pro partners as an invaluable source of fishing knowledge with the pros always willing to impart a few bits of wisdom.
“They are very helpful,” said Hoyer. “We talk throughout the day and you can gain lots of knowledge from just talking. As much as you want to ask, they have answers for you.”
The Cabela’s National Walleye Tour will kick off the 2016 season in April and will include 3 qualifying events and a year-end championship. Dates and locations should be announced soon. For more details, anglers are encouraged to check out the website atwww.nationalwalleyetour.com.