Seth Feider saved my team at Grand Lake, but two of my other selections scored checks and earned me some points: James Elam and Gerald Swindle. And I dropped two in the 80s and 90s.
Now with the big-bass factory Kentucky Lake up next, one needs to consider two factors: Experience and momentum. I’m focusing mostly on the latter.
I see this event shaping up to be an absolutely smashfest with bass up shallow spawning, and even some postspawn fish setting up on the ledges. And that screams “crankbait.”
Of course Kevin VanDam comes to mind, and I’d be a fool not to pick him. Not only will he score a healthy check, but he could win it and go back-to-back on the Ws. His ownership will be very strong, but I’m not going to let that group of Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players pass me by.
I’m on the KVD train at Kentucky Lake.
Also consider anglers who like to sight fish and use a flipping stick.
It’s worth looking closely the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year race, too. Sure, only two events have come to pass, but early indications of momentum are beginning to arise. Keep that fact in mind — it will play.
Let’s dig in:
BUCKET A: LUCAS
After a dismal 2017 season and missing the 2018 Classic, Justin Lucas is out to set the record straight. He finished sixth at Lake Martin, fourth place at the Central Open #2 on the Arkansas River and then 13th at Grand Lake last week. His momentum is rolling, and I’m putting my Bucket A bets on the new daddy from Guntersville, Ala.
Darkhorse: Hard to ignore James Elam, Brandon Lester and Roy Hawk, but Takahiro Omori could also be a solid choice for this event.
BUCKET B: K. VANDAM
Not only is VanDam the greatest angler of al time, he’s likely the best angler to ever fish the Tennessee River and its correlating systems. He’s won on Kentucky Lake, and you can bet a crankbait will play this week. I’m 100 percent confident you can’t lose with VanDam in your lineup for this event.
Darkhorse: Gerald Swindle has been wearing the bass out on his home lake Guntersville. He’s done pretty well so far this season, and he’s beyond overdue for a victory on the Elite Series. This could be his event. If you don’t agree, look at Ott DeFoe, Jordan Lee or Russ Lane to finish strong.
BUCKET C: M. LEE
Matt Lee had a bad showing at Grand. But other than that, he’s been good as gold. After his classy speech on stage after his final day on Grand Lake, I know I can still count on him. Plus, he’s pretty dang good on Guntersville, which will fish much like Kentucky Lake. He’s due to take home a trophy, and overall his momentum is strong.
Darkhorse: Randall Tharp is coming off of a Top 12 on Grand Lake, and he has an axe to grind after missing this year’s Classic. You can bet on Tharp this week. If not, look at Tommy Biffle, Casey Ashley and Todd Faircloth.
BUCKET D: B. LANE
Bobby Lane won the Elite Series even on Kentucky Lake in 2009. Sure, it’s been a few years, but momentum is on his side after winning the first Open of 2018. This guy is so good, and so overdue. Look for Lane to not only make a check, but maybe make a run at the title.
Darkhorse: Jason Christie is mad. And he fishes well mad. I could see him making the Top 12 here, but count on a check for sure. If not Christie, Matt Herren, Stephen Kennedy and Ish Monroe will be factors, as well.
BUCKET E: COMBS
Keith Combs has had a slow start to his year, and that’s very uncharacteristic. I said go with momentum for this tournament, but with Combs I’m looking at a momentum shift. I think his skill set fits very well for Kentucky Lake in early May. He can catch them with a flipping stick or a crankbait rod — look for both to play this week.
Darkhorse: Timmy Horton has been quiet this year, and I think this tournament fits him well. If not Horton, take a good, long look at Jeff Kriet and Drew Benton.