2007 Elite Series: New Waters Many Choices

Elite Series: Empire Chase fantasy outlook

The Bassmaster Elite Series moves this week from one side of New York to the other, leaving the eastern reaches of the Empire State for the western front along Lake Erie and the Niagara River.To prevent your fantasy rosters from tumbling like the aforementioned river's famous falls, I'd strongly recommend a lineup with local or regional anglers.

 There's a lot of water out there, and a lot of options for this contest.The top level of the BASS Tournament Trail has never visited this massive fishery, meaning it's probably a wide-open contest. But an examination of other BASS events on Erie reveals a few names to consider.

 I touted Pennsylvania pro Paul Hirosky in this space last week, and despite his 47th-place finish on Champlain, I'm going to advocate his selection for fantasy rosters once again this week. Hirosky is intimately familiar with Erie, and he won the last BASS event on the lake two years ago.

 Darren Schwenkbeck is another local to consider. If the weather turns for the worse, and anglers are confined to the Niagara River, look for the hockey-jersey-wearing New Yorker to play a pivotal role in this tournament's outcome.

 Frank Scalish has history on this lake, too. The Ohio angler finished fourth on Erie in 2005 and won the 2004 Bassmaster Open on the lake.Jon Bondy could play a role, as well. He was second in the last BASS event on Erie in 2005. The only Canadian in the field wasn't a threat at Champlain last week (78th), but like the other locals mentioned above, he won't bankrupt your team.

 Dave Wolak will cost a little more, but he finished 18th on Erie in 2005 and 12th in 2003.Of course, I'd be remiss not to suggest Kevin VanDam's presence on fantasy rosters. He wasn't in the top 12 at Champlain, but if you play the odds, that probably means he'll be in the mix this week.So there's a bunch of northern pros to consider. By all means, though, don't think a northern zip code is a prerequisite for success on northern waters. It helps, for sure. But you don't have to look any farther than last week for evidence that southern pros can handle these northern fisheries.

 Timmy Horton ran away with the Champion's Choice. I don't know if he can repeat that performance on Erie, but it's hard not to consider him. He'll go into this derby with sky-high confidence, and momentum plays a bigger role in bass fishing than many will admit.Along the same lines, I like Skeet Reese (second last week) and Tommy Biffle (fourth last week plus last year's victory on Oneida and fifth-place finish on Champlain).

 Finally, I have a good feeling this week about Peter Thliveros. The big Floridian placed 11th on Champlain last week, the same order of finish that Peter T. managed in a 2004 BASS Open on Lake Erie.I know I'm all over the map here. But it's getting late in the season, and you have to consider numerous options. Furthermore, it's another case of picking a team for a fishery that hasn't played host to a top-level BASS event.There's a lot of water out there, and lots of fantasy options, too.

 Editor's note: Check in daily during the tournament for live video of the weigh-ins and a realtime leaderboard at 3 p.m. ET Thursday through Saturday. ESPNOutdoors.com will air Hooked Up, the live Internet shows, on Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon ET on Sunday. The 45-minute Hooked Up show begins at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, leading into the final live weigh-in and a realtime leaderboard at 3:45 p.m. ET.

 Please feel free to post comments to this story via the ESPN Conversation feature at the bottom of this and every news page on this site.

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