LA GRANGE, Ga. — The 2013 Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing season is well underway, and it is time to start making a move back toward the top. After a horrible first tournament, my Fantasy Fishing team has slowly but surely been gaining against other players.
This week, the Top 100 anglers take to West Point Lake in La Grange, Ga. The last time the Elite Series stopped at West Point Lake was 2011, and Steve Kennedy walked away with the big trophy. The way the Fantasy Fishing buckets line up this year, it is possible to get an angler who finished in the Top 12 in 2011 in each bucket.
For this tournament's picks, I used the 2011 results, the current Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) standings, and Fantasy Fishing percentage ownership numbers.
Edwin Evers was the runner-up at West Point in 2011 and is the current AOY points leader. Evers' fishing style matches up well to catch bass however necessary this time of year on West Point. Evers is the third most-owned angler in Bucket A at 17%, but he offers a great chance to gain points in the overall Fantasy Fishing standings.
I also like Terry Scroggins and Kevin VanDam in this bucket. These two guys are tied for second in AOY standings, and both managed a solid finish at West Point in 2011. Scroggins' ownership is only 4.7%, which gives him great upside in the bucket if he can beat the top bucket choices. VanDam is the top pick and a strong threat to win in the bucket, like he always is.
Steve Kennedy is the highest-owned angler in Bucket B and for good reason: Kennedy won at West Point in 2011 and has fished this lake all his life. Kennedy was able to take his Kanami Flash and a special swimbait and keep the trophy at home. If the conditions change like they have at each Elite Series event so far this season, Kennedy will know where he needs to be to catch the winning fish. Kennedy’s Fantasy Fishing ownership is 17%, which still leaves a solid opportunity to beat most of the Fantasy Fishing players.
I also like Alton Jones and Dean Rojas. Jones finished in the Top 12 at West Point in 2011 and is sitting in 21st place in AOY standings. A 9% Fantasy Fishing ownership does not hurt either. Rojas finished 20th at West Point and 28th in the AOY standings.
Bill Lowen finished 12th here in 2011 and needs a big event to turn his season around. He is currently 46th in AOY standing and needs a couple of strong events to get back to the Classic. Lowen also only had a 4% Fantasy Fishing ownership mark right now, so a big finish will gain me a lot of points over other anglers in this bucket.
I also really like Ott DeFoe and Mark Davis for this bucket. DeFoe finished 11th and Davis finished 14th here in 2011. Both excel at this time of the season. The reason I am not taking DeFoe is his ownership is very high at 27%. This is the time of year that Davis really starts to excel, so I would not be surprised if he has a Top 12 finish. Davis’ Fantasy Fishing ownership is only 3%, so there is a lot of upside to picking him here.
Nate Wellman is surprisingly only owned by 2.5% of Fantasy Fishing players. Wellman pulled of a fifth-place finish here in 2011. He is also the third-highest ranked angler in Fantasy Fishing points for this bucket. I hope he can figure out the lake as he did two years ago and come away with another Top 12 finish.
Other anglers to consider in this bucket are Jared Lintner and Greg Vinson. Lintner is another surprise after finishing fourth at West Point in 2011, but he is only owned by 4.5% of Fantasy Fishing players. Vinson finished 16th in 2011 and is only owned by 6%. Most people are sticking with Michael Iaconelli. These three anglers give you a chance to beat almost half the Fantasy Fishing players if they finish better Iaconelli.
Andy Montgomery is my choice for the last bucket because he finished ninth here in 2011 and also is only owned by 9% of Fantasy Fishing players. Montgomery has had a rough start to his season and almost certainly needs a win to qualify for the 2013 Classic. For this reason, I see Montgomery giving it is his all to have his best finish of the season.
Also in the group, I like Davy Hite and Brandon Palaniuk. Both managed to finish in the Top 50 and take home a check in 2011. I like Hite’s 11% Fantasy Fishing ownership more thank Palaniuk’s 38%.
The event starts Thursday, May 2, so do not forget to get your Fantasy Fishing picks in. If you have not set up a team, just go to Bassmaster.com/Fantasy. It is free to play, and the person with the highest points total for each tournament wins a $2,500 gift card to Bass Pro Shops.