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

Don't play it safe on Dardanelle

Bucket B

Picked: Crochet

Almost picked: Lowen

Reasoning: Man, this one hurts. Bucket B is stacked. From what I’ve gathered informally, it’s going to be won shallow in the grass. Cliff Crochet doesn’t have B.A.S.S. experience here, but he’s rapidly becoming known as a premier level frogger. Matt Herren won here on the FLW Series, and Randy Howell won the 2004 Bassmaster E-50 here. Bill Lowen came in 17th in 2009 and he’s only gotten better since then.

I could pick any of the four and feel good about it, and all except Howell have low ownership percentages. Last week, I went with “conventional wisdom” and it hurt me, so this time I’m going with Crochet as the gut pick.

Bucket C

Picked: Browning

Almost picked: Kennedy

Reasoning: When in doubt, go with the home-state boy. That didn’t work last week with Tietje, and for some reason I’m consciously avoided the Mark Davis momentum train (which pulls into its home station this week), but Stephen Browning is fishing well and Dardanelle is his type of fishery.

I love picking Steve Kennedy, but he seems to burn me a lot, and I want Kelly Jordon’s career to rebound back to on-the-verge-of-superstardom again, but he’s in some kind of atypical funk and I’m not ready to take that much risk. If I have to make one high-ownership-percentage pick, let this be the one.

Bucket D

Picked: Biffle

Almost picked: Short

Reasoning: Man, Tommy Biffle is one of those Ish-type picks, not afraid to finish 90th if he feels there’s an equal chance he’ll win. Of his seven Bassmaster wins, four have come in the May-June-July time period. It’s when the jig works — not only flipping but also his crazy bottom-bugging deal — and that led me to pick him, despite a relatively high ownership rate.

For sentimental reasons as well as logical ones (he’s a Dardanelle fixture), I wanted to pick Kevin Short, but I don’t have a sense of where his head is after his family’s recent tragedy. Can he compartmentalize his life enough to put his head down and earn his first B.A.S.S. win (Tour or Open level) since 2011 and his first in his home state? This is one bucket where it wouldn’t hurt too bad to have buyer’s remorse.

Bucket E

Picked: Rowland

Almost picked: Duckett and Vinson

Reasoning: Boyd Duckett won here in 2008 during the white-hot stretch of his career, and his ownership percentage isn’t too high, certainly not as high as that of Ish Monroe, who burned me last week.

I really wanted to pick Greg Vinson because I have a feeling that swimming a jig will play a key role and he scored a Top 12 here in 2009, but his high ownership percentage scared me off.

I need to make a move and can’t do it by being conventional. I’m tempted to go with one of the old-school veterans like Pete Ponds and Matt Reed, but neither has done well here in past events.

My gut tells me to bet on Zell Rowland, who despite some struggles in recent years has had occasional flashes of success. He also had a Top 5 finish in the E-50 that Howell won. Gotta take a risk or two to get ahead, and there’s nothing less stable than a Pop-R bite.

Who are you picking for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team?

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