SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Despite Oneida Lake's location above the Mason-Dixon Line, don't expect an all-Northerner Top 12 in the Aug. 23-26 Ramada Championship here.
Consider some West Coasters, Oklahomans and a Floridian, perhaps, for your Fantasy Fishing roster, in addition to Northerners like Kevin VanDam, Jonathon VanDam and Michael Iaconelli.
But which ones?
Inform your pick by reviewing anglers' past performances here and analyzing some of the intangibles beyond the data that could propel the competitors to a Top 12 finish. And keep in mind that most – if not all – anglers will need to target both largemouth and smallmouth to make the Sunday cut.
In my previous column this week, I handicapped Bucket A. I'm leaning toward Arizonan Dean Rojas. Following are my suggestions for Buckets B, C, D and E:
Although I expect Oklahomans Terry Butcher and Jeff Kriet and Arkansan Mike McClelland to finish high, California native Aaron Martens has been on such a roll in rescuing his season from a dismal start, it would be hard to pass on him.
Still, at 36 percent ownership, Martens is a safe pick that offers little value for Fantasy players needing a big move to rescue their own seasons. If you're in the 90th percentile in points, pick Martens. If you're farther back in the Fantasy points race, take Butcher or McClelland.
Butcher has the best average finish on Oneida of all Bucket B anglers, 13th place (ninth and 10th in August 2008 and 2009, and 21st in July 2006). At 40th place in the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) race, he must finish well on Oneida to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake, the first ever in his home state. If he makes the Sunday cut here and qualifies for the Classic, history will have repeated itself – he qualified for his first-ever Classic after his 10th-place finish on Oneida in 2009. Such intangibles can help anglers. On the other hand, they can put additional pressure on them.