The 2017 Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing season is almost upon us with the regular season is less than a month away, but the big dance at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic is still roughly two months away. That doesn’t mean we can’t start guessing who will tote the sport’s most prestigious trophy for the 2017 campaign. Late March on Lake Conroe could mean some of the biggest Classic weights we’ve ever seen.
BUCKET A: K. VANDAM
Too early pick: Kevin VanDam
This could go down as the first “post-spawn” Classic since the big dance was moved to the early part of the year after the 2006 Classic, which could play out in Kevin VanDam’s favor. Covering water and finding active fish seem to be his specialty, and unless there is a sudden cold front in south Texas, I’d push a lot of chips in VanDam’s corner.
Watch out for: Keith Combs
There is zero science behind this pick whatsoever, but one thing you should know about Combs … he knows a lot about Conroe. That could play big time if he holds up to all the home-lake advantage that will add pressure to his shoulders.
BUCKET B: OMORI
Too early pick: Takahiro Omori
Omori won’t get the publicity in this bucket that he probably deserves, but shallow cranking could be the deal at Conroe, and that could mean a flashback to 2004 when he took the title at Lake Wylie.
Watch out for: Justin Lucas
Two wins in the last two seasons has Lucas soaring to the top of the sport and at his age, he seems here to stay.
BUCKET C: MONTGOMERY
Too early pick: Andy Montgomery
Conroe has 157 miles of shoreline with plenty of docks to fish, which means Andy Montgomery should be on the shortlist of anglers that will plunge big bass from boat docks. I mean, he did catch a pretty good bag of fish on Day 1 at the 2015 Classic when he was breaking icicles by skipping a jig into tight places.
Watch out for: Bobby Lane
Nine Classic appearances and nine Top 20 finishes for Bobby Lane. That’s a stout track record and one worth keeping an eye on.
BUCKET D: ZALDAIN
Too early pick: Chris Zaldain
Big baits catch big fish, and with Zaldain seemingly obsessed with giant swimbaits, you never know when they could come in clutch; especially with double digit fish swimming up shallow on Conroe.
Watch out for: Ryan Lavigne
You may not know his name, but he punched his ticket to the Classic via a win on this very body of water, which certainly is worth noting.
BUCKET E: STRADER
Too early pick: Wesley Strader
Although this is Wesley Strader’s second trip to the Classic, he is a much bigger fixture in the sport compared to his 2003 appearance. He’ll do just fine blocking out the extra activities and attention that come with the Classic.
Watch out for: John Garrett
He may still be hitting the books as he pursues a college degree, but Garrett carries the outer composure of a seasoned pro. Calm and cool are hard characteristics for a college angler to develop, but he has those traits and may perform better in the big dance than some of the college anglers that have come before him.