RIDGELAND, Miss. — Rising and muddy water paired with daily strong winds made for difficult fishing conditions for most of the 109-angler Elite Series field at the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite at Ross Barnett.
Kevin VanDam almost won his 24th Bassmaster title, but fell short by 2 pounds, 3 ounces to rookie Dustin Connell who weighed a four-day total of 64-13. It was an exciting finish, no doubt about it!
Thanks to Connell’s victory, he was the most valuable angler last week at Ross Barnett earning his Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing ownership 315 points.
Nearing the halfway point of the 2017 season, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year leaderboard is also beginning to shape up. Tennessee native Ott DeFoe fell to second place behind Oklahoman Jason Christie by only four points. But the remainder of the Top 10 includes some heavy hitters including Greg Hackney in third, Dave Lefebre in fourth, Kevin VanDam, Todd Faircloth, Dustin Connell, Mark Davis, Jason Williamson and Elite Series newcomer Jacob Wheeler.
Momentum is huge going forward, so as you make selections for future events, the AOY leaderboard should weigh heavily in your decision-making process.
“emilywu52” was the Fantasy Fishing Ross Barnett Fantasy Fishing champion posting a top score of 1,342 points.
Bucket A: Seth Feider, 237 points
B: Kevin VanDam, 295
C: Ish Monroe, 272
D: Bradley Roy, 248
E: Jonathon VanDam, 290
“Cstefan” is currently leading the 2017 Fantasy Fishing season with a total of 5,952 points
“Cstefan’s” team for Ross Barnett:
Bucket A: Jason Christie, 221 points
B: Bobby Lane, 285
C: Randall Tharp, 229
D: Stephen Browning, 245
E: Justin Lucas, 163
Ross Barnett’s perfect team:
Bucket A: Dave Lefebre, 276 points
B: Dustin Connell, 315
C: Ish Monroe, 272
D: Mark Menendez, 280
E: Jonathon VanDam, 290
BUCKET A: LEFEBRE
Dave Lefebre of Erie, Pa., showed up again and was the best pick in Bucket A. The veteran pro angler earned his 1.6-percent ownership 276 points thanks to a solid sixth-place finish.
The second best selection in Bucket A was Seth Feider who had another great tournament finishing in 19th place earning his 1.0-percent ownership 237 points.
The worst pick in this bucket was an ultra surprising John Murray who won the previous tournament at Toledo Bend. He earned his 0.1-percent ownership only 71 points after a difficult 102nd-place finish.
BUCKET B: CONNELL
It should be no surprise that Bassmaster rookie Dustin Connell was the best selection overall, and of course, in Bucket B. He won the derby and earned his 0.3-percent ownership 315 points. The 300 points were for the win, and five bonus points for each day he led the tournament, which was three.
The second best selection was Kevin VanDam who earned his dominating 23.9-percent ownership 295 points for his second-place finish. That makes the Michigan angler’s 16th second place, which happens to be the one shy of the number of third-place finishes he’s put up. Think about that for a while.
The worst selection in this bucket was legendary angler David Fritts who posted a very uncharacteristic 103rd-place finish. He earned his 0.3-percent ownership only 69 points.
BUCKET C: MONROE
California angler Ish Monroe enjoyed a tremendous showing at Ross Barnett after finishing in seventh place earning his 4.6-percent ownership 272 points.
The second best selection in Bucket C was Brent Chapman who finished in 12th place and earned his 2.6-percent ownership 254 points.
The worst selection in Bucket C was rookie Skylar Hamilton who earned his 2-percent ownership 57 points after finishing in 109th place.
BUCKET D: MENENDEZ
It’s about time we see Mark Menendez in the Top 12 again. His last appearance was at Winyah Bay 2016. He’s a solid competitor, and you can be confident this won’t be his last. The Kentucky angler earned his 1.1-percent ownership 280 points for his fifth-place finish.
The second best selection was Alabama’s Matt Herren who returned from an uncharacteristic finish in the 90s at Toldeo Bend. Herren rallied and earned his 12.9-percent ownership 268 points for an eighth-place finish.
The worst pick in Bucket D was Michigan’s Chad Pipkins who earned his 0.5-percent ownership 61 points following a difficult 107-place finish.
BUCKET E: J. VANDAM
Jonathon VanDam has been quiet for a couple of years, and on paper Ross Barnett doesn’t seem to fit his style of fishing. He proved any naysayers wrong with an impressive third-place finish that earned his 1-pecent ownership 290 points.
The second best selection was Fred Roumbanis who earned his 4.3-percent ownership 260 points for a 10th-place finish.
The worst selection in the final bucket was rookie Tyler Carriere who earned his 0.5-percent ownership only 59 points for a 108th-place finish.