PALATKA, Fla. — You’re probably already kicking yourself for not choosing Rick Clunn to anchor your first Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team of the new Bassmaster Elite Series season.
And if you’re not, you should be. But you can make yourself feel better by knowing that most other players feel the same way.
However, Drew Benton in Bucket E was the angler who produced the widest leading margin for his owners.
Here’s the perfect team:
Bucket A: Greg Hackney, 300 points
B: Marty Robinson, 290
C: Brent Chapman, 280
D: Rick Clunn, 350
E: Drew Benton, 285
No one came within 100 points of the perfect score.
Bucket A: Hackney
Greg Hackney’s second-place finish and Day 2 leader bonus points (5) added up to 300 points for his 7.8 percent of owners. He was a good bet for that medium-size percentage of players. He beat his next-closest competitor, Jason Christie, by 32 points.
Christie, who finished with 268 points, was owned by 2.2 percent of players.
The most popular pick in the stacked first bucket was Edwin Evers at 18 percent. He didn’t finish far behind the leader, at 243 points.
The Lane brothers and the reigning Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year were all nearly tied for second-most-popular choice and all scored about the same. Chris Lane, with 11.4 percent, ended with 133 points. Bobby Lane, with 11.3 percent, finished with 139. And Aaron Martens, 11.6 percent, got 171 points.
The worst pick of the bucket was Matt Herren with 101 points — more than 200 behind Hackney — but he was only chosen by 0.1 percent of players.
Bucket B: Robinson
Marty Robinson is starting off 2016 strong, with the biggest bass of the Classic a couple of weeks ago and a third-place finish in the first Elite event of the year. He earned 290 points, but only 0.9 percent of players reaped that reward.
Behind him was Brandon Lester, who benefited from Day 1 leader bonus points. He ended with 256 points for his 0.3 percent of owners.
Todd Faircloth was the most popular pick with a huge 33.4 percent ownership. He ended with 211 points.
The second-most-popular pick was Randy Howell with 9.2 percent. He finished with 173 points.
The worst pick of the bucket was Brandon Coulter with 57 points and 0.0 percent ownership.
Bucket C: Chapman
Brent Chapman delivered the goods to his faithful 1.8 percent of players. He scored 280 points for them.
Right behind him, though, with 272 points, was the most popular choice, Terry Scroggins, at 27.8 percent.
The second-most popular pick was Shaw Grigsby at 19.5 percent. He earned 215 points.
The worst pick of the bucket was John Murray, 0.1 percent, with 59 points.
Bucket D: Clunn
Rick Clunn blew all the anglers on the St. Johns away with a win, two days of leader bonuses and the huge 40-point big bag bonus. He finished with 350 points.
And who benefited? Almost no one! Only half a percent of players had put their stock in the veteran pro who has four Classic titles to his credit.
But if you chose Cliff Prince, you shouldn’t be too upset. He got a Top 10 finish and a 40-point big bass bonus. He ended with 316 points for his 11.2 percent of players.
The most popular pick was Randall Tharp at 39.5 percent. He earned 257 points for his fans. Not bad at all, but still nearly 100 points behind Clunn.
The worst pick of the bucket was Nate Wellman, at 0.1 percent ownership, who ended up not competing and scored a zero. He’s now out for the season for medical hardship.
So we’ll go with the next-worst pick of the bucket, Paul Mueller. It’s not because he didn’t fish well; it’s because he left the tournament just a couple of hours into the first day so he could be with his wife for the birth of their first child. He ended with 55 points for his 0.5 percent of owners.
Bucket E: Benton
Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players leaned toward Drew Benton for his Florida hometown status and to Luke Clausen for his stellar tournament history. Good call on both.
Benton did best in E with 285 points. He was owned by 25.9 percent of players.
Clausen, at 15.5 percent, did second-best with 227 points. But with that 58-point difference, Benton was the best choice in all of Fantasy Fishing for the St. Johns.
The worst pick of the “newcomer” bucket was Brock Mosley, with 65 points for his 1.6 percent of players.