2014 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle Lake Dardanelle - Russellville, AR, May 15 - 18, 2014

Don't play it safe on Dardanelle

About the author

Pete Robbins

Pete Robbins

Veteran outdoor writer Pete Robbins provides a fan's perspective of B.A.S.S. complemented by an insider's knowledge of the sport. Follow him on Twitter at @fishywriting.

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Last week at Toledo Bend, I tried to play it safe in Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing and choose anglers I “knew” would garner me some key points — safe bets, such as Dean Rojas, Todd Faircloth, Edwin Evers and Dennis Tietje, all of whom had strong records on the Bend.

Expecting that it was going to be a big weight event, I also picked Ish Monroe, who has a strong track record in slugfests, but seems equally likely to score a bottom 20 finish as a Top 20 finish. Unfortunately, I got the Mr. Hyde version of Ish instead of the Dr. Jekyll iteration, as he finished a dismal 94th.

At least I still had my four “safe” picks to salvage the event, right? Well, Rojas and Faircloth did the heavy lifting, finishing sixth and ninth, respectively. Meanwhile, Evers turned in a very un-Evers-like performance, landing in 68th. Home crowd favorite Dennis Tietje didn’t help me, either, and ended up 92nd.

In short, my picks averaged a 54th-place finish, smack dab in the middle of the 108-man field. Actually it was slightly worse than that because two anglers sat the event out. In other words, I probably could’ve had a computer pick an angler from each bucket at random and do at least as well.

I recognize that picking a Fantasy Fishing team is far from an exact science. We don’t have the reams of information that analysts in other sports have in front of them to inform their picks. Still, it burns me up to get my butt kicked like I did at Toledo Bend, especially because I tried to play it close to the vest.

If I’d picked a group of no-names or has-beens and gotten killed, it wouldn’t be so galling. The best analogy I can come up with is an angler who “chases checks” rather than betting on a few big bites, and ends up with neither.

With that in mind, I’m going to do my best to take some risks this week — maybe not extreme risks, but enough that if all goes well, it’ll help me leapfrog a few people who have been more prescient up to this midway point of the season.

Here are my choices for Dardanelle.

Bucket A

Picked: Hackney

Almost picked: Rook

Reasoning: Tough not to pick Kevin VanDam here. In three B.A.S.S. events at Dardanelle dating back to 2004, he’s finished eighth, third and second, so if the upward trend continues there’s only one slot left to move.

Tough not to pick Mark Davis, Jared Lintner or Chad Morgenthaler, either, because all three are fishing out of their heads.

I’m going with Greg Hackney, though, whose ownership percentage is remarkably low. He’s a shallow-water stud and it’s close to home. He was second here in 2004 when Randy Howell won and eighth when Boyd Duckett won in 2008, so no one’s going to be surprised if he wins — except the thousands of people who failed to pick him.