2013 Elite Series Sabine River Challenge Presented by STARK Cultural Venues
Sabine River System - Orange, TX, Mar 14 - 17, 2013

River rats with Delta success will shine on Sabine

Bucket B

No Brainer: Dean Rojas,9.3 percent ownership

Value Pick: Greg Vinson, 0.8 percent

Local Pick: Dennis Tietje, 1.3 percent

River Rat Pick: Stephen Browning, 1.2 percent

Counterintuitive Pick: Jeff Kriet, 5.3 percent

Wild Card Pick: Scott Rook, 1.6 percent

Vinson averaged a best-in-bucket 13th place. He showcased his river-fishing prowess finishing runner-up in the Red River Classic.

Browning finished third and sixth in the California Delta which, with its miles of canals, sloughs and dead-end backwaters, looks like what will encounter on the Sabine system.


Bucket C

No Brainer: Ish Monroe, 24.4 percent ownership

Value Pick: John Crews, 7.4 percent

Local Pick: James Niggemeyer, 10.7 percent

River Rat Pick: Bill Lowen, 14 percent

Counterintuitive Pick: Takahiro Omori, 9.1 percent

Wild Card Pick: Derek Remitz, 1.2 percent

Monroe is great when frogs and flipping are in play. And because bonus points are awarded for Big Bass and the heaviest one-day limit, the “Big Bass Specialist” seems a no-brainer.

Crews won a California Delta tournament, flips the same baits Monroe won with on Okeechobee (Missile Baits’ D Bomb, which he designed), and he’s a wizard with a shallow crankbait. His average finish in the comp tournaments is 19th.


Bucket D

No Brainer: Brandon Palaniuk, 60.4 percent ownership

Value Pick: Marty Robinson, 4.7 percent

Local Pick: Clark Reehm, 5.4 percent

River Rat Pick: Cliff Prince, 1.2 percent

Counterintuitive Pick: Kotaro Kiriyama, 0.1 percent

Wild Card Pick: Chris Zaldain, 0.5 percent

With an Elite Series win and a runner-up and fourth-place Classic finishes, Palaniuk is the real deal. Still, he’s in Bucket D for a reason: a ‘hero-or-zero’ pattern of inconsistency. He often follows a great finish with a flop.

Robinson is a gut pick. Ever since his strong showing in last year’s Classic, he seems poised to step up to the next level. His best finish in three of the five comps is 15th (California Delta).


Bucket E

No Brainer Pick: Jason Christie, 49.6 percent ownership

Value Pick: Kurt Dove, 2.2 percent ownership

Local Pick: Not applicable

River Rat Pick: Kevin Hawk, 2.6 percent

Counterintuitive Pick: Hank Cherry, 34.2 percent

Wild Card Pick: Chad Pipkens, 0.7 percent

Christie’s history on rivers includes fifth-, 11th- and 15th-place finishes on the Arkansas, Red and James rivers (on another pro tour). On the other hand, he’s also finished 118th, 125th and 186th on the Potomac (twice) and Detroit rivers.

Hawk’s river bona fides include a 13th-place on the California Delta and two 10ths and a 12th, 19th, 25th and 28th on rivers and deltas (all in mid-level tournament circuits.). But his resume also includes a 70th, 80th, 84th, 111th and 173rd on rivers.

Who are your picks for Fantasy Fishing?