ESCANABA, Mich. — The Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing season is over. If you did well, give yourself a pat on the back and wait for next year to improve. If you did poorly, then enjoy this moment of hindsight where you can say, “Oh, man, I almost picked that guy!”
Here’s who you should have picked for the final tournament of the year:
Bucket A: Skeet Reese, 335 points
B: Justin Lucas, 272
C: Brandon Palaniuk, 257
D: Brandon Lester, 284
E: Brian Snowden, 285
Total points: 1,433 points
No player achieved a perfect score.
Bucket A: Reese
Skeet Reese’s big bag on the final day earned a stout 40 points for his fans, and his second-place finish earned them the remaining 295 points. If you’re one of the 4.6 percent of Fantasy Fishing players who chose him, you’re probably stoked.
Alas, more than a third of players jumped on the Aaron Martens bandwagon, based on Martens’ stellar record up North on smallmouth fisheries. Yet, Martens didn’t deliver his standard on Bays de Noc, and he turned out to be the worst pick of the bucket. So, 37.6 percent of players earned only 217 points, more than 100 points behind Reese.
The second-most-popular pick in A was Greg Hackney with 21 percent. It’s hard to think that, in Escanaba, where Hackney was outfitted with the AOY crown, that picking Hackney would be a bad call. But indeed it was. His players ended with 227 points, also more than 100 points behind Reese.
The next-best picks behind Reese were Mark Davis, 9 percent, and tournament winner Jacob Powroznik, 5.3 percent. Neither of those were bad picks, but at 310 and 305 points, respectively, players are still left wishing they had Reese on their team.
Bucket B: Lucas
Justin Lucas attracted a scant 5.8 percent of Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing owners, but he dropped the highest number of points on his believers at 272.
Still, the 11 percent who chose Chris Lane fared pretty well with his 260 points.
But B is a lot like A for this tournament. One-third of the players took Edwin Evers, and he gave them only 175 points — nearly 100 points back of Lucas.
Jason Christie was the next-most-popular pick at 19.7 percent, and he finished with 183.
Even Paul Elias, who zeroed on the second and final day, earned more points than Evers and Christie at 185. That affected virtually no one, though, because Elias was chosen by only 1.2 percent of players.
Bucket C: Palaniuk
The bandwagoners got it right in Bucket C. Brandon Palaniuk, owned by 40.4 percent of players, was the highest points earner with 257.
Right behind Palaniuk with 254 points was David Walker. His 2.4 percent of players are likely not sorry they picked him with only a 3-point difference.
The next-most-popular pick was Philly champ Mike Iaconelli with 26.5 percent of votes. He was the third-highest points getter at 229, so his fans lost out on 28 points they could have gotten with Palaniuk.
The worst pick in the bucket was Morizo Shimizu, who finished with 177 points. He was owned by 6 percent of players.
Bucket D: Lester
Brandon Lester had only 1.8 percent of players on his side, and for them, he earned 284 points. That’s partly by virtue of his Carhartt Big Bass. Mark Davis in Bucket A caught one the same size, so the two split the 40-point bonus down the middle.
Pickers of Brett Hite, 12.7 percent of you, were only a smidge behind Lester at 281 points.
But, oh, you poor Ott DeFoe fans. DeFoe had promise in this tournament, sitting in 11th place on Day 1. DeFoe owners were in good shape, they thought. Until three days of cancellations forced DeFoe’s hand. With another obligation waiting for him, he decided to leave the tournament on the “fourth Day 2,” forfeiting a whole day of competition. He earned only 189 points — nearly 100 points behind Lester — for his 34.9 percent of players. So, Bucket D is just like B and A, with a third of the players earning the lowest number of points.
Bucket E: Snowden
Two of the least popular picks in Bucket E earned the most points. Brian Snowden, with 4.1 percent of players to his credit, got the most at 285 points, and Andy Montgomery, with 3.8 percent of believers, earned 280.
The most popular pick was Chris Zaldain at 32.9 percent. He finished middle of the pack with 213 points.
Two other popular picks, Steve Kennedy at 9.2 percent and Jeff Kriet at 12.1 percent, zeroed on the “fourth Day 2” and earned only 179 and 181 points, respectively, for their fans.
Hindsight is 20/20. So appreciate your work on this season, and the next time you play Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, it will be for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic! Go ahead and start studying your anglers!