Fantasy: The cold-weather guys have a leg up

Welcome to the 2015 Bassmaster Classic, where spectators aren’t the only thing headed south this week!

In case you haven’t heard, the thermometer is absolutely plummeting this week in Greenville, S.C., and it looks like things will go from bad to worse by the time a champion is crowned on Sunday. Take that into consideration when setting your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team.

How bad exactly? The lows could be in the single digits on Wednesday, making practice a ton of fun. There’s even a chance of “ice pellets” Saturday and Sunday. Doesn’t the thought of driving 70 mph in a boat with a face full of “ice pellets” get your blood pumping? If you’re a Bassmaster Marshal, dress as warm as you can, and then add another layer.

To make matters worse, the moon phase is wrong and the wind isn’t going to cooperate at all. For the first part of the week, the wind is going to blow north/northeast. Then it’ll switch up and blow from the west before switching to a south wind for the remainder of the week. That’s going to be incredibly significant for two reasons: that south wind will wreak havoc on the lake if it gets up and that shift will create a stark difference in how the fish will set up and position themselves from practice to game time. You find fish on a windblown point on Monday that will be without wind entirely come Friday.

So that means you’ll want to focus heavily on guys with the most historical success at Hartwell, right? Well, maybe not.

This Classic reminds me a lot of 2013. I said that tournament would be won by a cold-weather guy who could withstand the beating of being subjected to that degree of cold weather. Anyone can fish one or two days in the cold, but stretch that out over a week or 10 days, and the fact is that people who live in the North have adjusted to the beating their body takes and are able to withstand it. Connecticut angler Paul Mueller has been ice fishing for weeks, and his body is prepared for very cold conditions. That’s the kind of weather Northern states come to expect in February. I don’t think one single person from South Carolina would say that single digits was “normal” for February.  

So my first two are the guys who finished in the Top 2 in 2013, Cliff Pace and Brandon Palaniuk. I think Mueller is a must from Bucket D, and I chose Brett Hite and Jacob Wheeler for C and E because, frankly, they’re beasts in their group.

Pace would be such a great story, but Palaniuk cannot be overlooked. He just might be the best cold-weather angler there is.