BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Aaron Martens, who just won the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Havasu on the other side of the country, only has to drive a few hours north of his home for the next event, Zippo BASSfest presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps. It will be on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.
He has competed on Kentucky Lake multiple times and knows the fishery. Also, as a veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro, he knows the anglers as well as anyone. So we asked him who he would put on his Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team.
“It will be a good one,” said Martens, “but the fishing’s funky right now, though. I think the winner will catch 20 pounds a day, maybe 25 on one day. There’s some big fish in there. I think we’re looking at about 87 1/2 pounds for the win.”
Here are his choices for each bucket.
Bucket A: VanDam
Kevin VanDam was Martens’ first choice for Bucket A. VanDam is also the first choice for many Fantasy Fishing players; he’s owned by 37 percent of them at the time of this writing.
“He’s got the past, the record there,” said Martens. “He’s been the most consistent guy at Kentucky Lake.”
Don’t want to go with the crowd? Pick Jason Christie, said Martens.
“He’s a good offshore angler,” Martens said. “This suits his wheelhouse.”
Brent Ehrler, too, would be a good choice.
“He’s just coming off that big win,” said Martens, referring to the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Fork last week.
But when it came to picking himself, he wasn’t sure.
“I think I should do pretty good there,” said Martens. “It’s my favorite type of fishing. Usually big baits do well there, and that’s my favorite. I might go shallow. I don’t know. Can I even pick myself?”
Yes, you can pick yourself.
“OK, well, then, yeah, I’ll do well there. I expect I’ll get a Top 12, but you know, I’m always looking to win, so we’ll see.”
Bucket B: Evers
Edwin Evers was Martens’ first pick from Bucket B, as he is for most players. He’s currently the top pick in the bucket at 23.4 percent.
“He’s a really good offshore graph angler,” said Martens.
But Martens found Bucket B to be tough to pick from because there are so many good options in the bucket. Ott DeFoe and Brandon Lester were other good choices, he said, as well as Greg Hackney and Kelly Jordon.
“Hackney might mix it up and go shallow,” said Martens.
“Jordon has done well there in the past. It fishes a lot like Texas lakes, so he should do well there.”
Mike McClelland is another solid choice.
“He’s a strong offshore fisherman,” said Martens. “He knows when to fish slow and when to change it up. He’s good at picking up on subtle changes.”
Bucket C: Faircloth
“Todd Faircloth is probably one of the strongest anglers in this bucket,” said Martens, giving him the nod for Bucket C.
Other good choices?
Casey Ashley: “He’s had a really good year, and he’s good at ledges.”
Cliff Pace: “He should be good even though he’s struggled this year. He’s another strong offshore angler.”
Timmy Horton: “He’s been struggling, but he’s really good at these lakes.”
Bucket C is tough, said Martens, because these are really good anglers, but many of them are in a funk right now.
Bucket D: Omori
Takahiro Omori is the top pick in Bucket D, and he’s also Martens’ pick.
“He’s a crankin’ fool,” said Martens, “and there’s gonna be a lot of that type of fishing.”
But David Mullins is a great pick, too.
“He should do good there,” he said. “He loves deep water fishing, and he grew up fishing Tennessee lakes.”
Randall Tharp is another good choice.
“Tharp has a lot of knowledge on that water, and he has a lot of past experience there.”
Other strong picks in Bucket D are Brett Hite, Chad Pipkens and Koby Kreiger.
Bucket E: Mueller
Paul Mueller is a good choice for Bucket E.
“He should be strong now,” said Martens.
Matt Reed is another good pick.
“He has experience there and is really good offshore.”
Don’t want a high ownership guy? Try Morizo Shimizu or Fred Roumbanis.
“Morizo has done well there in the past,” said Martens, “and Roumbanis is from that area, so he should do well.”
Martens realized when he’d finished that almost all of his top picks were bucket favorites, but he stood by his choices. He said they’re probably the best picks, and it makes sense that so many players chose them.