In previous years, when it comes to looking at Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing picks for the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods, the Super Bowl of fishing kicks off the season after the anglers have enjoyed a decent break from fishing. For the first time in a while we not only have it counting towards our season total in Fantasy Fishing points, but we also have an opportunity to make our picks based on additional factors.
All of us “pundit pickers” took an early look to see if we could gauge who might be standing on the stage with the trophy in hand. Now my goal is to see who has the needed momentum and confidence, and then try to balance that with who might have adequate history going into the Classic so I can get myself in good position to continue the season strong.
Conroe is in the early stages of the spawn right now. There are always fish deep, but with each moon cycle, more and more bass are hitting the banks. The water is mostly stained, but from mid-lake and down, there might be a chance for some sight fishing. My guess is that the guys who can mix it up between spawning fish and prespawn staging fish will be the ones who can put the winning bags together.
The predominant patterns that I have seen in my research are flipping brush and trees, swimbaits on flats and cranking rocky secondary points and other staging spots. I would tend to lean on the shallow water guys on Conroe.
BUCKET A: THARP
Previously, I suggested that Keith Combs, Edwin Evers, and KVD would be solid options for Bucket A. Keith Combs has an almost 30 percent ownership as I’m writing this, and I’m not surprised. He’s a proven stick on Conroe. I think I’m going to have to take off Evers and KVD though. They are both solid anglers, but I have to bring in Randall Tharp who has great momentum coming into a tournament that will likely be won doing what he loves, flipping. I have a connection at Lake Conroe who says it’s been taking every bit of 25 to 27 pounds to win the local derbies and fully expects a 75- to 80-pound three-day total to take home the Classic title. Flipping has been a major player. I can see either Combs or Tharp finding the big bags.
Gut Pick: Randall Tharp
Logical Pick: Keith Combs
BUCKET B: HERREN
In this bucket, I had pre-selected Jacob Powroznik and Matt Herren. With docks likely to be a big player, Herren has definitely got a shot. He had a pretty painful finish at Okeechobee, but finished ninth at Cherokee. I’m keeping him. Mike Iaconelli has a similar record so far, but he seems to have a connection with both Texas lakes and the Classic. I think I’m still leaning towards Herren for a strong finish, but Ike is definitely worth considering.
Gut Pick: Mike Iaconelli
Logical Pick: Matt Herren
BUCKET C: B. LANE
I think I picked my Bucket C anglers well back in January. Bobby Lane and Brett Hite both have great momentum coming into the Classic and are both hungry for a Classic victory. These guys are both prespawn sticks and I can see either one of them hoisting the trophy. I had Brett Hite in January, but something in my gut is screaming that Bobby Lane is the way to go. I’m going to keep my anglers, but switch it up to B. Lane in Bucket C.
Gut Pick: B. Lane
Logical Pick: Brett Hite
BUCKET D: ??????
I just don’t know yet.
Not to say that Chris Zaldain and Jared Lintner were bad picks in this bucket, but I think given their momentum, I gotta bench them. Unfortunately, the two guys I want to pick are the two highest owned picks in the bucket. Brent Ehrler might have to be my high-owned pick for this tournament. He has decent momentum coming off Okeechobee. Jason Williamson seems to be a dark horse pretty often. He has stellar momentum with a 17th and eighth in the first two events. It is definitely a toss up for me. This might be one of those I switch back and forth on until 5 a.m. on Day 1. It’ll definitely be one of them.
Gut Pick: Jason Williamson
Logical Pick: Brent Ehrler
BUCKET E: JONES JR.
It’s hard to ignore some of the guys in this bucket. Skylar Hamilton is killing it. So is Jesse Wiggins. Wesley Strader is always a threat. Alton Jones Jr. is proving to be consistent. I had originally picked AJJ, Ocamica and Klinger. Jones Jr. is going to get some weight in this bucket because I fully expect a decent finish. Or I guess a better way to put it is that I don’t expect him to tank.
I have to give some credit in this bucket to Jesse Wiggins due to his obvious momentum. He nearly won the first event and got a check at Okeechobee. He’s definitely finding his place in the Elite Series. If you are looking to separate yourself from the crowd a bit, I would suggest staying away from both of these guys because they own a combined 70-plus-percent of the bucket.
I have to land on AJJ though.
Gut Pick: Jesse Wiggins
Logical Pick: Alton Jones Jr.