Fantasy Fishing: If you picked Combs, you were right


James Overstreet

ONAMIA, Minn. — As expected, the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship was very exciting as the season’s Top 50 pros caught loads of smallmouth bass from Minnesota’s famed Mille Lacs Lake.

There were numerous races taking place: Of course the event’s weight winner would be awarded a coveted blue trophy and $25,000; the Rookie of the Year race was finalized as Alabama’s Dustin Connell took home top honors; there were 38 berths to the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on the line; and of course the most respected title in all of bass fishing, Angler of the Year.

Bassmaster fans were elated as the AOY race came down to the final weigh-in as Idaho’s Brandon Palaniuk edged out Oklahoma pro Jason Christie. It was an exciting finale as an emotional Palaniuk earned a huge credit on his resume.

Keith Combs toped the weigh side of the event with an impressive 72 pounds and 5 ounces of giant smallmouth bass.

The Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing champion was also determined, but for purposes of official confirmation, we’ll announce that individual as soon as possible.

Here are the results for Mille Lacs:

“pig55” was the Fantasy Fishing champion at Mille Lacs posting a top score of 1,455 points.

“pig55’s” AOY selections:

Bucket A: Jacob Wheeler, 285 points

B: Aaron Martens, 233

C: Cliff Pirch, 272

D: James Elam, 295

E: Skeet Reese, 290

Total: 1,455

Mille Lacs’ perfect team:

Bucket A: Jacob Wheeler, 285 points

B: Keith Combs, 355

C: Russ Lane, 276

D: James Elam, 295

E: Skeet Reese, 290

Total: 1,501


Jacob Wheeler made a solid run for the AOY title that Palaniuk eventually won. Coming into this event, Wheeler winning was a possibility, but it would have required Christie and Palaniuk to fall substantially. However, the Indiana pro kept with his season-long consistency, and managed to finish in fourth place in weight, and third place overall in AOY. A solid season for the first-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro for sure. Wheeler earned his 16-percent ownership 285 points.

The second-best selection in Bucket A was Jordan Lee who won the 2017 Bassmaster Classic back in March. Lee earned his 11.7-percent ownership 264 points after a ninth-place finish. Lee finished the season in fourth place overall.

The worst pick in this bucket was Jamie Hartman who struggled to catch fish on the final day of competition. Despite this difficult finish, Hartman broke the record of most Top-12 finishes by a rookie Elite Series angler. Harman earned his 6.5-percent ownership 179 points for a 48th-place finish. He finished 13th in the AOY race.


Keith Combs was the top pick at this event as he went wire-to-wire to win his second Bassmaster Elite Series title. He weighed a three-day total of 72-5 to win the weight side of the tournament. The victory pushed him up to a solid ninth place in AOY. Combs earned his 0.5-percent ownership 355 points in total. Three hundred of those points were awarded because he won the event, 40 bonus points for the events heaviest one-day limit of bass and 5 bonus points for each day of leading the field (15).

The second-best selection in this bucket was hometown hero Seth Feider who finished in 13th place after catching a three-day total of 65-6 and earned his 43.7-percent ownership 251 points.

The worst selection in Bucket B was Todd Faircloth who earned his 1.5-percent ownership 199 points after finishing in 38th place. Despite a tough tournament, Faircloth earned a Classic berth after finishing in 20th place in AOY points.


Russ Lane weighed 68-3 for a very solid sixth-place finish, which helped him finish his season in 22nd place in AOY points. Lane’s stellar performance earned his 1.8-percent ownership 276 points.

The second-best selection in Bucket C was Cliff Pirch who weighed 67-12 acrsos the three days of competition, which earned him a stout seventh-place finish and produced 312 points for his 9-percent ownership.

The worst selection in Bucket C was John Crews who earned his 4.5-percent ownership 181 points after a difficult 47th place finish. Crews season was a success however, he earned a Classic berth after finishing in 34th place in AOY points.


Oklahoma pro James Elam enjoyed a solid tournament last year at Mille Lacs, and nearly won it this year. Elam caught 70-11 for second place having earned his 16.7-percent ownership 295 points. His finish also bumped him up the AOY leaderboard into 27th place securing a spot in the 2018 Classic.

The second-best selection was Luke Clausen who earned his 7.6-percent ownership 280 points for a fifth-place finish. Clausen will be competing in the 2018 Classic after finishing the season in 23rd place.

The worst pick in Bucket D was Ish Monroe who earned his 5.5-percent ownership 177 points for a 49th-place finish. Monroe qualified for the Classic Bracket Challenge, which was offered to the Top 8 outside of the Classic cut, and that event is currently underway.


Skeet Reese was nearly out of Classic contention unless he earned a high finish. He did just that and earned third place with 69-14. The impressive showing bumped him comfortably inside the Classic cut where he finished in 33rd place. Reese earned his 6.4-percent ownership 290 points.

The second-best selection was Jonathon VanDam who weighed 67-2, which was good enough for eighth place. He earned his 23.6-percent ownership 268 points.

The worst selection in the final bucket was Brock Mosley who finished at the bottom in 50th place having earned his 7.5-percent ownership 175 points.