PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — If you’re planning to pick Mike Iaconelli for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team for the Delaware River, know that you are among 62.2 percent of people who are planning to do the same.
Picking against Iaconelli is a real gamble. If he blows it out on his home water and goes home with a win, you are now behind more than 60 percent of the other players — and because it’s Bucket D, you’re probably substantially behind. But if he stinks it up and you chose someone who did better, you’ve hit the mother lode.
We asked Bassmaster Elite Series pros who they thought Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players should choose for their teams. Bernie Schultz’s response? “Ike, Ike and Ike!”
Will you follow Schultz’s advice and go with the crowd? Or is there someone in Bucket D who is worth the gamble?
Below are the Elite Series pros’ picks for Fantasy, bucket by bucket.
John Crews says you should pick him on the Delaware River. “I like what I saw [in pre-fish], so I would bet on myself,” said Crews.
But, he added, “if you think I am just being biased, pick [Jacob] Powroznik.”
Chris Zaldain based his picks on anglers who are good on waters similar to the Delaware.
“Anglers with tidal water backgrounds know what to look for and where to go once the tide turns and targets dry up or disappear,” said Chris Zaldain. For Bucket A, that means Greg Hackney or Skeet Reese for their knowledge of their respective deltas’ tidal fisheries (Louisiana and California).
Elite Series rookie Joel Baker would pick Aaron Martens.
Currently, Martens and Hackney are the leaders in the A bucket for fan picks.
Zaldain will go with Terry Scroggins in the B bucket for his knowledge of tidal fisheries.
Crews agrees, kind of: “Never bet against KVD, but if you do, go for the Big Show,” referring to Scroggins.
Baker is going with a pick of Ott DeFoe.
Right now, it appears that many people are on board with Crews as far as not betting against VanDam. He is owned by 48 percent of players right now, surely thanks largely to his 2005 victory in Pennsylvania when the pros visited Pittsburgh for the Bassmaster Classic. Brandon Palaniuk is owned by 14 percent, and third in popularity is DeFoe.
Zaldain’s pick of Scroggins is only at 1 percent currently.
Baker is going with Edwin Evers in Bucket C, as are most players. Evers, in a low bucket for someone with such a résumé, has garnered 45 percent of the players’ confidence on the Delaware.
Zaldain will pick himself in C because of his experience on the California Delta’s tidal waters.
For Crews, it’s Stephen Browning.
“Browning is the name that jumps off to me, but there are multiple other decent choices here,” said Crews.
The highest-owned angler next to Evers is Hank Cherry, far back at 16 percent but still a much more popular pick than anyone else in C.
Mike Iaconelli is definitely the star of the show in this bucket. At 62 percent ownership, a lot of fans are pinning their hopes on Iaconelli’s performance and will likely be either elated or devastated with the results.
Baker, Zaldain and Crews are all picking Iaconelli, but Crews said to not rule out Rick Morris, who is owned by only 1 percent. “Morris will likely do well, too,” said Crews.
The counter-Ike picks in this bucket are going to Tommy Biffle, who’s got 10 percent, and Jonathon VanDam, who’s got 7.
Oh, Bucket E. You cause so much trouble. This one is often the hardest to choose from, yet the biggest points producers usually come from it because the angler who gets away from the pack usually gets far ahead. Players can spike or bust on their pick in this bucket alone.
Ish Monroe gets the nod from Crews and Zaldain. Zaldain chose him for the same reason he chose himself and Reese – that California experience in the delta. Crews said Monroe will be able to fish his strengths there, and that’s why he’s a good pick. Monroe is currently on the team of 25 percent of players, the highest of the bucket.
Crews also recommends Fletcher Shryock and Tracy Adams. “Fletcher is a good river angler,” said Crews, “and Tracy is a good tidal river angler because I have competed against him.”
Joel Baker chose himself in this bucket, just like Crews, Zaldain and Howell chose themselves when asked. You’ve got to have confidence in yourself or why should anyone else have confidence in you?
The other top picks so far in this bucket behind Monroe are Grant Goldbeck, 11 percent, and Jeremy Starks, 10 percent.
Also, check out the video below with Bassmaster Elite Series pro Joe Sancho and 2014 Bassmaster Classic runner-up Paul Mueller as they give their Fantasy Fishing picks.
Who are you picking for the Delaware River? Do you trust Elite Series pros’ judgments better than those of other pundits? Post your comments below or discuss your picks in the Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing group on Facebook.