Time for BASSfest! Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing is in full swing.
I personally have some ground to make up, so I will be basing my picks accordingly. I sit at about 87 percent right now so I need the big bag, big bass and the daily leaders to all fall into line and make up some serious ground.
The buckets have taken shape and now mirror how the season is playing out for the Elites and not just an off day here and there.
Let’s jump right in. There is plenty of Elite history on Kentucky Lake as well as other tour-level event history, so there is plenty of information available on many of the anglers. I also have a bunch of guys with basically no history on Kentucky Lake as well, which could be a boom or bust if you go that route.
Bucket A: VanDam
KVD is a high percentage as usual, but relatively speaking, it looks like people have cooled off on Kevin VanDam. I see no reason to not pick VanDam, despite the high ownership percentage and the fact that bucket A is loaded. He has only been beaten by three different guys the last four times he has fished here.
That is too much success and history for me to gamble on someone else despite the other great picks.
Gut says: Aaron Martens has so much confidence and momentum, and John Crews has past success here as well. They are good value picks.
Boom or bust: Chris Zaldain. I said it last time: The guy just catches fish. Havasu did not go the way he wanted, and he is due for a nice bounce-back event.
Maggie and Same both say KVD … because he is KVD.
Bucket B: Swindle
This is another very tough group of anglers looking to jump into bucket A and the AOY race. Edwin Evers, Ott DeFoe, Kelly Jordon and a few others have solid records here. I am going on a small limb and taking the G-Man.
Gerald Swindle has not finished lower than 25th in his last five events on Kentucky Lake, including two Top 10s. Before the West Coast swing, Swindle was having a great year and I look for him to duplicate those results on Kentucky Lake. Plus, at less than 4 percent ownership, I can make up ground.
Gut says: Jordon has a solid history here as well. My only reservation is he has not placed higher than 20th since 2012, so I have a hard time picking him here despite going seventh, eighth and 15th the last three times here. Evers and DeFoe are safe picks as well.
Boom or bust: Brandon Lester. He lives only a couple hours away from the south end of Kentucky Lake, and he was having a really good season until we went West. I expect him to pick up where he left off as well.
Maggie is going with DeFoe and Sam has Evers in this one.
Bucket C: Snowden
Brian Snowden has a similar record on Kentucky Lake as Gerald Swindle, so I am banking on him getting at least in the Top 25 again. Top 12 would be even better, of course. He went ninth, 24th, 16th and 26th in the last four times with the Elites on Kentucky Lake. He usually has one or two Top 10s each year, and he is due in 2015. I think this event sets up well for him. Snowden is also at less than 2 percent ownership. I like my chances to gain ground.
Gut says: Todd Faircloth. He is too good to be in Bucket C. The Western Swing hurt Faircloth as well, but he will bounce back, I think, and fare well here.
Boom or bust: Jonathan VanDam. If my uncle was really good at something, I would hope he would share all he could with me about it.
Maggie has Casey Ashley in this one and Sam has JVD as a boom only, no bust.
Bucket D: Williamson
There is some mild success here from a few different guys. Steve Kennedy has won here in a tour-level event. Brett Hite has a couple of Top 12s. Derek Remitz was fifth his last time here.
I am going out yet another limb here. The only pattern I saw clearly in this bucket is Jason Williamson getting better each time he has fished Kentucky Lake. In order, his finishes went 88th to 31st to 23rd. With another similar jump, he could jump into the Top 12. I am taking J-Will.
Gut says: Kennedy is a solid pick with lots of upside.
Boom or bust: Matt Lee.
Sam has Randall Tharp starting a cobra collection this week, and Maggie is going with Chad Pipkens by “a hair.”
Bucket E: Myers
There is more history in this bucket as well. The Clunns and Eliases of the world have probably forgotten more about fishing than I will ever learn. Morizo Shimizu has won here before, so he knows where Big Momma can live.
For me, I am about consistency and history on a lake. For that reason alone, I am taking Britt Myers. The last three times here, he went 16th, seventh and 18th respectively.
Gut says: Kevin Hawk. Not sure why, gut just says do it.
Boom or bust: Brandon Card. He had a Top 20 at BASSfest last year, but momentum is not on his side. I could absolutely see him get back on track here for sure.
Sam has the B.A.S.S. Nation champion Paul Mueller, and Maggie has Morizo “Big Momma” Shimizu … again. At least she is consistent.
Good luck on and off the water.