2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro
Lake Guntersville - Birmingham, AL, Feb 21 - 23, 2014

Pro Predictions: Winning Weight

What will it take to win this year's GEICO Bassmaster Classic?

Seigo Saito
Gary Klein's winning weight prediction may mean that he's onto something good!

About the author

Ken Duke

Ken Duke

Ken Duke is the Managing Editor of Fishing Tackle Retailer and the author of two books on bass fishing. Follow him on Twitter @thinkbass.

The winning weight of the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro on Lake Guntersville, Feb. 21-23, will be 77 pounds, 1 ounce — or at least that's the average of what the 55 competitors think will win. All week I've been stopping the qualifiers with the following setup and question:

If you could win a lot of money by correctly predicting the winning weight of the Classic , what would your bet be?

You see, if you don't put the big money element in there, they won't take it seriously. You'd get answers like, "I have no idea" or "A lot!" or "One ounce more than second place." Like any other group of tournament anglers, the Classic has a healthy sampling of smart alecks.

But let them imagine there's something at stake and you get some real thought, and that's what they said as a group — 77-1.

For what it's worth, that's a big number — much bigger than the current record in the five-bass-limit era (69-11 by Kevin VanDam in 2011 on the Louisiana Delta) and even bigger than the record from the seven-bass-limit era (75-9 by Rick Clunn in 1984 on the Arkansas River). In fact, it would be the biggest catch ever in any Bassmaster Classic by anyone at all.

And the weight estimates were pretty tightly grouped. Of the 55 anglers, 43 of them were within five pounds — either way — of that 77-1 average. That's 78 percent, and that's a really solid consensus.

Who's predicting a slug fest?

The angler with the heaviest prediction was 30-time Classic qualifier Gary Klein, who said it would take 84-9 to win. Eleven qualifiers predicted a winning weight of 80 pounds or more.

And the lowest prediction? That belonged to Chad Morgenthaler at 68-15. The Bassmaster Wild Card presented by Star brite winner not only earned the final berth in the 2014 Classic, but he is also the only angler in the field who thinks less than 70 pounds can take the championship.

Here's how the Classic qualifiers called it:

Casey Ashley

78-0

Josh Bertrand

76-8

Tommy Biffle

79-0

Patrick Bone

72-8

Stephen Browning

84-4

Coby Carden

75-0

Brent Chapman

75-0

Hank Cherry

74-8

Jason Christie

79-4

Keith Combs

78-0

John Crews

82-10

Cliff Crochet

83-3

Mark Davis

78-0

Ott DeFoe

74-8

Mark Dove

71-5

Edwin Evers

76-12

Todd Faircloth

75-0

Randy Howell

81-0

Rich Howes

75-0

Michael Iaconelli

78-0

Tim Johnston

78-0

Alton Jones

72-5

Chris Jones

73-0

Steve Kennedy

83-0

David Kilgore

73-0

Gary Klein

84-9

Bobby Lane

77-12

Chris Lane

83-0

Jordan Lee

73-0

Bill Lowen

72-1

Jeff Lugar

74-6

Aaron Martens

75-0

Yusuke Miyazaki

72-0

Ish Monroe

78-11

Chad Morgenthaler

68-15

Rick Morris

78-3

Paul Mueller

78-0

John Murray

78-0

Takahiro Omori

75-0

Brandon Palaniuk

82-11

Clifford Pirch

79-0

Skeet Reese

82-6

Dean Rojas

78-4

Fred Roumbanis

77-4

Terry Scroggins

81-0

Morizo Shimizu

80-0

Gerald Swindle

75-8

Randall Tharp

75-6

Doug Thompson

78-0

Jonathon VanDam

72-0

Kevin VanDam

75-0

Greg Vinson

77-0

Adam Wagner

74-11

David Walker

77-12

Chris Zaldain

77-11

I've learned that the eventual winner is usually one of the anglers who predicts a big winning weight. That makes sense, right? An angler who's on fish and poised to win is thinking that the fishing's pretty good and that it will take a lot to win. That says good things about Klein's practice and maybe even his chances.

Of course, the converse of that big prediction rule holds true, too. The angler picking a low winning weight may come pretty close to the final tally, but he never seems to win.  His prediction is usually based on what he sees as tough fishing. That tends to foreshadow a tough tournament for him.

Sorry about that, Chad.

For what it's worth, when I ask this question before an event, the average prediction is usually notably higher than what it actually takes to win.

Why is that?

I have a theory. I think the anglers in the field overshoot the eventual winning weight for two reasons: First, they are overly optimistic about the fishing. Dock talk and a taste of success in practice (when you're not really exploiting what you've found and may think it's stronger than it really is) leads to high estimates that don't hold up.

Second is the "worry factor." Even if you're not on fish, there's a natural tendency to worry that others are catching them — big ones, too. You hear it all the time. "VanDam's slaying 'em on the upper end with a spinnerbait" or "Skeet's found a pile of big fish!" When you think others are tearing them up, it's easy to give them too much credit and overestimate their catches.

So how much does the field typically overestimate the winning weight? I'd put it at between five and 10 percent.

That puts this Classic's winning weight at around 71-4.

We'll know on Sunday.

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