There’s no question that 2019 is already — and will continue to be — one of the most interesting years in professional bass fishing history. Not to mention confusing.
Many of the world’s top bass anglers have elected to fish on another circuit, which explains the countless new and somewhat unfamiliar faces on the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series—same on Fantasy Fishing.
But to throw a monkey wrench in things, many of those old, more familiar faces have suddenly reappeared in the Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing buckets.
No, this doesn’t mean they are back for good. They will be fishing the Classic because they each earned a berth due to their season-long performance during the 2018 Elite Series season.
This is likely your last shot to pick most of these guys in Fantasy Fishing. But don’t be fooled into thinking they are the only options, there are many returning Elites that are way overdue for a world title, and I believe guys like Drew Benton, Brandon Lester, Clifford Pirch, Micah Frazier and several others will shine.
With that said, make your selections knowing things are very different this year making the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods an unprecedented event.
Based on the ownership percentages listed so far, I think many Fantasy players are making choices based on favorites. Maybe. That could be a mistake, though.
The logical approach is to pick anglers with experience, and a certain element of being due for a title. I suggest carefully examining every angler for what he’s worth in the realm of Fantasy Fishing.
This may be the toughest tournament in our history to pick. My decisions for this derby rely heavily upon experience on the big stage, with an element of being due to win.
If you’re looking for some additional insight, check out our annual Classic Odds Gallery produced by the brilliant B.A.S.S. Times Editor Bryan Brasher
Let’s dig into a few options.
BUCKET A: DEFOE
Last year I picked Justin Lucas at every event, and it paid off as his Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year title proves he was the best in 2018. While he’d be a good bet based on momentum alone, I’m going with the hometown favorite here. It’s added pressure that Ott DeFoe doesn’t need, but who could be better here than the guy who knows the fishery as well as anyone, if not better.
Dark horse: I mentioned Lucas, but you can’t overlook Seth Feider who has become one of the biggest personalities in professional bass fishing, and not only because of his epic flow and mustache, the dude can flat catch them anywhere the Elites visit. Feider is a solid choice and could disappoint DeFoe.
BUCKET B: PIRCH
Cliff Pirch is due to win big. Way overdue. He’s qualified for the Classic each of his five years on the Elite Series, this being the sixth, and he's posted several strong Classic finishes along the way: two 13th-place finishes both at Lake Hartwell. That shows consistency that also matches his Elite Series record. Pirch is a safe bet, but he also has a legitimate shot at the win.
Dark horse: Hard to not pick Aaron Martens here, simply out of hope that he’ll finally beat the odds and win. He’s finished second at the Classic a few times, so he’s been close — plus this is likely his last visit to the Classic stage. If not Martens, I’d say Drew Benton is also a strong pick here.
BUCKET C: SWINDLE
On several occasions Gerald Swindle has likely had the Classic-winning fish on the line, and for one reason or another, it got loose. He knows the gravity of the situation, and knows how much a win would mean to him personally. Also, this will likely be his final appearance at the Super Bowl of bass fishing, so you can bet he plans to leave nothing on the table.
Dark horse: Micah Frazier has been relatively quiet in his career so far, but he’s finished 14th both times he’s fished in the Classic. I think you can expect that or better out of the young Georgia pro.
BUCKET D: MONTGOMERY
Andy Montgomery has been here three times but hasn’t finished better than 36th place. I guarantee you that burns the South Carolina pro, and he’s going to hit the Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tenn., with the goal to beat them all. He brings experience, and a factor of being due. Watch out for Montgomery this year.
Dark horse: Brad Whatley is an Elite Series newcomer, but he’s no slouch on the bass waters. Despite inexperience on the big stage, he’s proven his chops on the 2019 Elite Series trail with two finishes in the Top 30. He’ll beat the odds and finish strong in this year’s Classic.
BUCKET E: EVERS
In looking at this bucket, Edwin Evers seems most likely to finish well, and higher in the standings than he is ranked. With nine Top 12 finishes out of 17 appearances, including a title at the 2016 Classic in Tulsa, Okla., Evers is no stranger to the stage. With this Classic likely to be his final try, you can bet he’ll be fishing to win.
Dark horse: Randall Tharp has been close to the Classic trophy in the past and has endured some heartbreaking losses. But he’s no rookie, and he fully understands the gravity of the Classic title. With this also being most likely his last shot at the Classic, Tharp will go down swinging.