The end of the year is the traditional time for supermarket tabloids to publish stories by clairvoyants, fortunetellers and other soothsayers about events they predict will transpire in the coming year. So, in the finest tradition of Jeanne Dixon, Uri Geller, Nostradamus and the crazy old lady down the block, here are five can't miss predictions for 2011. Hopefully, "the Jeanne Dixon Effect" (the tendency to remember a few correct predictions while ignoring a larger number of incorrect predictions) will work to my advantage.
Klein earns the hardware
It's practically impossible not to root for Gary Klein in the Bassmaster Classic. He's classy, talented and has suffered way more than his share in chasing the "big one." More importantly, he's established that he's really good on the Louisiana Delta (4th in the 1999 Classic and 2nd in 2003). If no one shoots at him in 2011 — his 29th Classic — he could do even better.
A 'new' AOY
Come on, the odds are that someone — anyone really — will break through and claim bass fishing's most prestigious title, the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year title. Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese are still the top dogs in our sport, but eventually they have to stumble, slow down or otherwise leave the door cracked for someone else to walk through. Look out for Todd Faircloth, Aaron Martens and Michael Iaconelli. They're due!
The G-Man gets a W
One hundred sixty-six and counting. That's how many B.A.S.S. tournaments Gerald Swindle has fished in his career. He's been successful, too — winning the 2004 AOY title — but he's never won a tournament. That streak ends in 2011 when Swindle takes an Open title or (dare I say it) maybe even the Classic. He's been very good in New Orleans (5th in '01 and 11th in '03).
Record finally falls
When Manabu Kurita caught his 22-pound, 5-ounce largemouth from Japan's Lake Biwa in 2009, the fishing world was shocked. After 77 years, George Perry had company atop the record list. In 2011, a bigger bass will be caught that knocks both Kurita and Perry off the peak of the Bassmaster Top 25 list. This bass will weigh nearly 23 pounds and come from Southern California in March. The lucky angler will be someone not currently on the bass fishing radar.
The next big thing
Much like the Rapala Floating Minnow, Fred Young's Big-O, the Zoom Fluke or the Yamamoto Senko, a new bait will be introduced at this year's ICAST Show that will take the bass fishing world by storm. It will be a soft plastic lure out of Japan that will have both finesse and power fishing applications. The manufacturer will be a small company dedicated to quality control and precision. It will sell the rights to a major company that will never get things quite right. Eventually, competitors will flood the market with inferior knock-offs. Of course, that last part doesn't involve going out on much of a limb!
Ken Duke is the Senior Editor of B.A.S.S. Publications and the editor of Bassmaster.com. He is the author of two books on bass fishing, Bass Forever with legendary cinematographer Glen Lau (www.whitefishpress.com ) and The Bass Fishing History Vault (www.WhitmanVaultBooks.com ). You can e-mail him at Kenneth.Duke@bassmaster.com.