RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — The fishing conditions were difficult, but it didn’t stop the best bass anglers in the world from finding impressive limits of bass at the GoPro Bassmaster Elite at Dardanelle presented by Econo Lodge.
With legendary names like Mark Davis and Kevn VanDam — guys who both led Daredanelle at one point — a veteran angler building his own legacy came from behind and won the whole derby.
Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., was never outside of the Top 10 each of the event’s four days, but he did top them all on Championship Monday with 63 pounds and 12 ounces, which earned him a $100,000 payday and his third Bassmaster title.
The highest producing angler at Dardanelle for Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players was Arkansas pro Mark Davis. Those who selected the 1995 Bassmaster Classic champion were awarded 345 points.
While Texas Fest at Sam Rayburn was considered the halfway point of the 2017 Elite Series season, what follows Dardanelle is really the true shift in venues for the second half.
The tour will embark on it’s annual Northern Swing to include New York’s St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain, Lake St. Clair out of Detroit, and Minnesota’s Mille Lacs and Pokegama. The northern fisheries will allow many of the anglers to show off their skills on different locations.
When making Fantasy selections going forward, keep that in mind.
“tallbasser” was the Fantasy Fishing champion on Dardanelle posting a top score of 1,348 points.
Bucket A: Mark Davis, 345 points
B: Gerald Swindle, 213
C: Matt Lee, 268
D: Steve Kennedy, 305
E: Terry Scroggins, 217
As the Elite Series heads into the annual Northern Swing, “SowsChoice” is leading the 2017 Fantasy Fishing season for the second week in a row with a total of 8,053 points.
“SowsChoice” team for Dardanelle:
Bucket A: Kevin VanDam, 295 points
B: Mike McClelland, 229
C: Michael Iaconelli, 260
D: Tommy Biffle, 209
E: Chris Lane, 129
Dardanelle’s perfect team:
Bucket A: Mark Davis, 345
B: Jamie Hartman, 276
C: Dean Rojas, 280
D: Steve Kennedy, 305
E: Rick Clunn, 239
BUCKET A: M. DAVIS
Davis, a three-time Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, led the tournament on Saturday’s second round and Sunday’s semi-final round of competition, which earned him a total of 10 bonus points. He earned 295 points for his second-place finish and 40 bonus points for weighing the derby’s heaviest bag on Day 2, 19-4. He earned his 2.1-percent ownership a total of 345 points. He was the best choice for Fantasy players.
The second-best selection in Bucket A was Kevin VanDam who led on Day 1 and earned his 9-percent ownership 295 points for a third-place finish. Because he led on Day 1, VanDam earned his supporters five bonus points.
The worst pick in this bucket was Jason Williamson who has been having a tremendous year. He endured a difficult tournament, and earned his 0.3-percent ownership only 69 points. The South Carolina angler will bounce back, you can count on that.
BUCKET B: HARTMAN
Hailing from Newport, N.Y., Jamie Hartman has finished in the Top 12 in half of the events he’s fished during his rookie season as an Elite Series pro, and that’s before the tour heads north into his home state. Expect big things from the 44-year-old pro during the second half of the season. Hartman’s performance at Dardanelle earned his 1-percent ownership 276 points after a strong sixth-place finish.
The second-best selection was Mississippi angler Cliff Pace who earned his 0.6-percent ownership 272 points for his seventh-place finish.
Following a very uncharacteristic finish, Arizona’s Brett Hite was the worst selection in this bucket. He earned his 3.8-percent ownership 75 points following a 100th-place finish. Don’t expect him to stay down for long.
BUCKET C: ROJAS
Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu, Ariz., posted an impressive fifth-place finish and earned his 2.5-percent ownership 280 points. Anytime he can fish all four days with a frog, he has a shot at winning, and he was close this time. Watch for Rojas to continue to be productive during the seasonal Northern Swing.
The second-best selection in Bucket C was Matt Lee, and he’s having a great year with this being his second Top 12 of 2017. The elder Lee brother finished in eighth place and earned his 1.6-percent ownership 268 points.
Boyd Duckett was the worst selection in Bucket C at Dardanelle; he didn’t weigh a fish during two days of competition and earned his 0.9-percent ownership zero points.
BUCKET D: KENNEDY
Alabama’s Steve Kennedy won the whole thing and earned his faithful supporters some valuable Fantasy points. Kennedy posted 305 points for his 14.1-percent ownership
The second-best selection was Mark Menendez who won on Dardanelle in 2009. He finished in the Top 5 for the second time of the season, and earned his 5.5-percent ownership 285 points after a solid fifth-place finish.
The worst pick in Bucket D was Brett Preuett. He endured a difficult 108th-place finish having earned his 0.3-percent ownership 59 points.
BUCKET E: CLUNN
Legendary Rick Clunn has done well on Dardanelle throughout his career; his 18th-place finish earned his 6.7-percent ownership 239 points.
The second-best selection was Justin Lucas who earned his 37.1-percent 221 points following a 27th-place finish. He’s struggled this year, but look to see him continue to climb out of Bucket E and post more characteristic finishes for the remainder of the season. He’s good up north.
The worst selection in the final bucket was John Hunter who earned his 0.3-percent ownership only 61 points.