MANY, La. — The No. 1 lesson from Toledo Bend regarding Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing is that jumping on the bandwagon doesn’t always pay.
No one earned the maximum number of points available at Toledo Bend. Here’s the perfect lineup:
Bucket A: Jacob Powroznik, 310 points
Bucket B: Dean Rojas, 281
Bucket C: Cliff Crochet, 254
Bucket D: Cliff Pirch, 248
Bucket E: Chris Zaldain, 308
Total points: 1,401
The Fantasy Fishing players who hurt themselves the most are the ones who stuck with big familiar names like Edwin Evers and Aaron Martens and neglected the lesser-known pros. The big-name strategy worked at Table Rock, but it did not pay off on Toledo Bend.
Here’s how each bucket fared.
Bucket A: Powroznik
Jacob Powroznik was the best pick by 15 points in Bucket A. And yet, he was the second-least angler owned with only 0.19 percent of fans believing in him.
The highest-owned angler was Todd Faircloth at 25.56 percent. He performed well for his fans, posting a ninth-place finish, but his Fantasy Fishing points at 264 were no match for Powroznik’s 310.
Similarly, Mark Davis had a high ownership (16.92 percent) and finished in fourth, delivering 285 points for his fans.
Like Powroznik, Chad Morgenthaler had very low ownership (0.27 percent), but his second-place finish posted 295 points for his fans. Jared Lintner, at 302 points, scored strong for his small group of owners, only 0.58 percent.
The way to get ahead of the field in Bucket A was to choose Powroznik, Morgenthaler, Lintner or Randall Tharp (4.19 percent with 290 points). The players who picked them eclipsed the majority in the bucket, who chose Faircloth or Davis.
The biggest letdowns (high ownership, low reward) were Greg Hackney (13.64 percent, 207 points) and Aaron Martens (12.61 percent, 169).
Bucket B: Rojas
Dean Rojas made a lot of fans happy in Bucket B. He was the second-highest owned angler, and he posted 281 points, the best of the bucket.
Kevin VanDam was the highest-owned at 28.74 percent, and his 19th-place finish garnered 237 points for his fans. By picking Rojas over VanDam, the Rojas owners earned an extra 44 points.
Randy Howell (11.63 percent ownership) ended with 229 points, and Brent Chapman (10.04 percent) ended with 221.
Fans guessed right by not picking Casey Scanlon or Rick Morris. At only 0.12 and 0.18 percent ownership respectively, they delivered only 83 and 67 points.
Strong picks besides Rojas were Casey Ashley, 3.07 percent, 280 points (only 1 point behind Rojas), and Skeet Reese, 2.88 percent, 272.
Bucket C: Crochet
Cliff Crochet had a strong but not overwhelming ownership at 7.01 percent, and he brought it home for his fans with 254 points. Those 7 percent of owners are rejoicing right now that they didn’t jump on the bandwagon and choose Edwin Evers.
Evers was the biggest letdown of the tournament, as far as ownership/reward goes. He practically owned Bucket C with 43.95 percent of players picking him, but his 68th-place finish delivered a measly 141 points, putting his owners behind most in the group.
Brandon Palaniuk’s owners, 15.97 percent of players, didn’t match Crochet’s, but they were only 21 points behind them at 231 points. The best thing for the Palaniuk players is that they beat all of Evers’ owners by 92 points.
And ahead of Palaniuk was Glenn Browne with 251 points (only 3 points behind Crochet), but only 0.16 percent of players earned those points.
If you didn’t choose Crochet, Browne or Palaniuk, you would have done well with Mike Kernan, who gave 245 points to his small audience of 0.68 percent owners, or Hank Cherry, 243 points, 2.64 percent.
Bucket D: Pirch
Cliff Pirch was middle-of-the-pack on ownership, with 2.79 percent of players picking him. He earned 248 points for his owners, 23 points more than the next-highest scorer in the bucket, Rick Clunn.
Clunn had 6.97 percent of the ownership in D. Above him were two big letdowns, more than 100 points back: Tommy Biffle (27.35 percent, 123 points) and Ish Monroe (24.99 percent, 89 points).
If you didn’t choose Pirch or Clunn, you would have done well with David Mullins (0.46 percent, 215 points) or Chad Pipkens (0.31 percent, 209 points).
Bucket E: Zaldain
To get ahead in Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, you should have chosen Chris Zaldain, hands-down. He had the biggest spread in the whole event, winning his bucket by 48 points. His Carhartt Big Bass on Day 1 earned him 40 of those points, and he finished in eighth place. His overall points for this tournament was 308, only 2 points behind the winner, Powroznik. Only 4.85 percent of players picked him and outdid the rest of the field.
If you didn’t choose Zaldain, you should have gone for Jonathon VanDam with 260 points. He was the second-highest earner and the second-highest pick (15.60 percent). The third-highest earner, Kotaro Kiriyama, was more than 100 points behind Zaldain with 197.
The biggest letdown was Dennis Tietje. Home lake advantage is sometimes a myth, and that’s what happened here. Tietje’s extensive experience on Toledo Bend prodded 23.31 percent of players to pick him, but he earned a dismal 93 points. Tietje was another example of the bandwagon busts.
You can go ahead and set your team for the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle; buckets are already open. Don’t forget the pros who are likely to catch the biggest bass because, as was the case with Zaldain, the angler who catches the heaviest earns 40 points for his owners.
Good luck at Dardanelle!