2007 Elite Series: Sunshine Showdown

Sunshine Showdown: Elite finale is last chance for anglers, fantasy managers

The northernmost lake of the Kissimmee Chain is known to most folks as Lake Toho. Its full and proper name is Tohopekaliga, a hard name to spell and an even harder one to correctly pronounce.

 Picking a fantasy fishing roster for the final event of the 2007 Bassmaster Elite Series won't be nearly as difficult as saying the full name of the body of water where it will be held.

 The last event of the Elite Series season means the last chance for fantasy fishing managers to move up in the standings, capture their league championship, or, if the above scenarios are out of reach, at least have one last shot to demean our fantasy fishing brethren with an impressive showing and subsequent trash-talking.

 There's more to handicapping the season finale than most events. With the Angler of the Year title up for grabs and Bassmaster Classic berths at stake, fantasy managers have to consider more than an angler's past performance.

 The biggest showdown will be between Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam for the AOY crown, so fantasy managers should plan their lineups with that in mind. Both will be pulling out all the stops to lay claim to one of bass fishing's most prestigious titles, and it won't be any surprise if Reese and VanDam are both in contention on the final day.

 The hard part will be choosing which of the 2007 tour's stalwart anglers for roster inclusion. Unless you locked them in early at a relatively discounted price, putting both on the roster will leave too little salary-cap room for a serious entry.

 While it's hard to pick against either of the AOY contenders, a better selection is Terry "Big Show" Scroggins. If I had to pick just one angler for the Toho tournament, Big Show would be my guy — he knows this body of water as well as anyone, demonstrating time and again that he's a force to be reckoned with on the Kissimmee chain of lakes.

 Another logical choice is Chris Lane. He's a member of one of the first families of Florida bass fishing and a potential contender any time there's a BASS tournament held in the Sunshine State.

 While these anglers are obvious, the difference between fantasy success and failure at Toho will likely come down to the less conspicuous choices.The tricky part of handicapping this evenly is that many fantasy managers will be relying on the same anglers.Lane may be the most obvious choice among the Florida pros in this event, but he's not the only choice.

 Preston Clark will likely get the nod from many fantasy managers, and despite an overall disappointing campaign in 2007, Clark is definitely a threat to contend with at Toho. Who can forget his run at the 2006 Classic? And even though his Classic achievement was largely the result of early sightfishing success, his ability to pluck bass from thick vegetation shouldn't be dismissed.

 A dark horse selection with no less of a Florida bassin' pedigree is James Charlesworth, who hails from nearby St. Cloud, Fla. He knows how to catch them on Toho and he won't take up much room under the salary cap.

 Anyone with an aptitude for flipping baits into heavy cover should also be considered. I like Kelly Jordon, one of the best anglers on tour when it comes to methodically dissecting the vegetation and hauling big bass out of it.

 And though it may seem counterproductive, obscurity could be beneficial in this event. This is the last chance to make waves in the fantasy fishing world. Many managers will be looking for the same anglers to push them over the top. Going against conventional wisdom or making selections you might not otherwise make could be critical to success in the season finale.

 What is there to lose?

 It all comes down to this last event — and playing it safe isn't going to be much help.

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