Conservative Pick – Alton Jones
Popular Pick – Mike Iaconelli
Wild Card Pick – Cliff Pace
Sentimental Pick – Greg Hackney
My Pick – Ott DeFoe
Alton Jones and Mike Iaconelli have fared best in similar conditions, with average finishes of 17th place. A popular angler picked often whether his strengths match a fishery or not, Iaconelli’s 22.8 percent ownership is more than justified, as he will be in his element on Grand.
Although Jones is more known for his sight fishing prowess, his win in the cold 2008 Classic is only one of four Top 20 or Top 30 finishes in similar conditions. Jones is perhaps the best value pick in the bucket, at 15.2 percent.
At 33.1 percent ownership, DeFoe is the most-picked angler in Bucket B, thanks mostly to his ability to make Top 12s seemingly wherever he goes, no matter where in the country or what the conditions. It’s not inconceivable that the 2011 Rookie of the Year and 2012 Angler of the Year runner-up begins his third season on the Elite Series with a Classic victory.
Although DeFoe did not fish in the same B.A.S.S. tournaments that I've talked about, he has finished high in four February tournaments, averaging 12th place.
Pace (2.2 percent ownership) might seem a dark-horse pick for this event, especially considering his 93rd-place bomb on Grand in June 2007. But I’ve got a gut feeling that the stars are aligning for the quiet Mississippian in this year’s Classic, which seems to be setting up to similarly to the cold 2008 Classic in which he finished runner-up to Jones.
After recovering from a rough start in Florida last season, Pace became one of the best Fantasy Fishing values, as he went on to finish way higher than most other anglers in his Fantasy bucket. Not only did he notch runner-up finishes in two events last season, he finished sixth and 15th place in two others, en route to an 18th-place showing in the Angler of the Year race. In the February 2011 and 2012 Classics, he finished 12th and 14th, respectively.
See Bucket C on the next page.