ORLANDO, Fla. -- Koby Kreiger has the most to win in this week’s Classic Bracket, and with Niagara Falls looming downstream, all the competitors have a lot to lose.
It’s highly unlikely any of the eight Elite pros would break down at exactly the wrong time, founder down the Upper Niagara River and cascade over the Horseshoe Falls, but that’s the nightmare.
“It’s one of those deals where it’s sort of an eerie feeling knowing just downstream, people back in the day went over that thing in barrels and stuff and made the place famous,” said Kreiger, adding the off limits line is nowhere close to danger. “Obviously, we’re not real close, and obviously if we go past the off limits line, we’re disqualified anyway.”
After staying alive, his main concern is the event’s automatic Classic berth. The Top 8 finishers from Cayuga advanced to the head-to-head bracket format that starts Tuesday. After one day of practice, Kevin VanDam and Drew Benton in Match 1 and Jacob Powroznik and Kreiger in Match 2 will fish from 8:30-11:30 a.m. ET.
After a 2-hour break, Jordan Lee faces Dean Rojas and Brett Hite battles Keith Combs from 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET. On Wednesday, the matches flip flop times and the best two-day totals win. The winners advance to Thursday’s semifinals from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the final is the same time Friday.
The anglers launch from Anchor Marina on Grand Isle and will be at their spots for first cast. Fish will be weighed on boats under the watchful eyes of judges as well as viewers of Bassmaster LIVE. The best five-fish limits caught between the International Bridge and the I-90 North bridge wins.
Gene Gilliland is serving as a judge, and for redundancy, he said each fish weight will be added in BASSTrakk (for the first time being official) and it will also be written down and that sheet photographed, just for redundancy.
Kreiger is the only one outside the Classic cut in the Toyota Angler of the Year standings, but he might have an advantage having cut his teeth on northern fisheries. He is considered among the favorites.
“I definitely, definitely have the most to gain out of anybody,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m any kind of a favorite or not. I enjoy fishing that kind of stuff. I fished the St. Clair and Detroit rivers growing up, and that’s the only thing I can compare it to.
“They both have a lot of current - probably not as much as the Niagara River, but I would say I’ll be happy to be there fishing current instead of being, let’s say, on Kentucky Lake and having to go out in the middle and fish a ledge. If I was going to have to pick a place to fish, I’m not mad.”