In less than a week, one angler will walk away with the honor of being the 2013 Bassmaster Classic champion and $500,000 richer. Also the highest-finishing Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing player will win a $2,500 gift card. My goal for Fantasy Fishing this season is to finish in the Top 500 of all players. I have been close every year but have not quite jumped that hurdle yet.
The Bassmaster Classic does not count toward the season points, so I am taking a little more risk with some of my picks to try and get a few more points per bucket than the main angler choices. The last time the Elite Series anglers fished Grand Lake was 2007, so there is a little information to use from then.
Bucket A: Jason Christie
This bucket is by far the hardest bucket to chose from for the Classic. When I first thought of the anglers I would want on my Fantasy Fishing team, Mike McClelland, Kevin VanDam and Jason Christie came to mind. It figures they would all be in the same group. McClelland won the Elite Series event in 2006 by more than 15 pounds on Grand Lake. VanDam won the 2007 event on Grand Lake and always has to be considered as a favorite. Christie may be a fairly new name for some B.A.S.S. fans, but he has won a lot of money in tournaments on Grand Lake. Most believe the event will be won fishing a jerkbait, and all three of these guys can excel with this lure.
I chose Christie because he is a local. Statistically, this tends to spell bad news in Classic competition with only one angler winning the Classic in his home state (Boyd Duckett in 2007). Duckett said the changing weather played a key in his victory. If the weather changes during the tournament, Christie will know where he needs to go to catch them. Also, Christie is only owned by 10% of Fantasy players currently. This leaves a lot of upside in points over other Fantasy players if he has a strong tournament.
Bucket B: David Walker
I would love to pick Ott Defoe, but he is the most owned angler for Bucket B. Defoe will quickly figure out what he needs to do to finish high in this event.
David Walker finished tied for 14th in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) standings last year. Walker can adapt and find a way to bring a limit to the stage. Walker is also only owned by 5% of Fantasy players in this bucket. Defoe at 32% ownership, Michael Iaconelli at 23% and Alton Jones at 15% make up 70% of the choices by Fantasy players in this bucket. If Walker finishes higher than these three, I am ahead of majority of Fantasy players for the bucket.
Bucket C: Matt Herren
This bucket has several strong choices with Randy Howell, Gerald Swindle and Brandon Palaniuk. What is really surprising to me is that only 2% of Fantasy players are picking Matt Herren. Herren finished sixth in the 2012 AOY standings and is great at fishing lakes all over the country. I expect him to be the biggest surprise of this bucket. For this reason, he is my choice for this bucket. If he does finish highest in the bucket, that puts me ahead of almost all Fantasy players.
Bucket D: Russ Lane
I am breaking from my method of picking the least picked anglers in this bucket. I am going with Russ Lane in Bucket D because he knows what it takes to finish well in a Classic. Russ finished fourth in the 2010 Classic on Lay Lake. Russ also finished in the money in both Elite Series events on Grand Lake. Other names I like in this bucket include Jared Lintner and Jonathon VanDam.
Bucket E: Jonathan Carter
It seems every year someone in the last bucket always has a shot at winning the Classic. Brandon Palaniuk in 2011, Dustin Wilks in 2012, and hopefully Jonathan Carter in 2013. Really this bucket is up for grabs. I do not see any angler really sticking out now above the others. I figure I will take my chances with the first Classic angler in history to represent the state of Maine.
Who are your picks? Let us know by commenting below. Be sure to register and get your team in order by Thursday!