Of Sandbaggers and Straight-Shooters

On the eve of a Bassmaster Elite Series competition, the possibilities for the outcome are wide and open.

There are no leaders, no followers, no zeroes, no breakdowns, no ruined chances. Any one of the 99 Elite pros still has as good a chance as any other to be the winner.

And such is the case on the eve of the Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi River Rumble presented by Power-Pole, a four-day event that begins Thursday at 6:20 a.m. from Veterans Freedom Park in La Crosse, Wis.

Wednesday afternoon, we asked several pros why they feel they have a shot at the 2013 Rumble title. Their answers were interesting. Keep in mind some pros believe bad luck will come down on them for appearing to be too confident. Other pros play the sandbagger’s game (all part of competition, after all). Still others shoot as straight as Bat Masterson or John Wayne.

Who fits which description? Only the result of Sunday’s championship round might reveal the answers.

Here’s what 10 pros, picked at random, had to say when asked, “Why are you going to win this tournament,” then “How was your practice?”

Britt Myers:“I learned my lesson last time I was here [almost exactly a year ago, the Elite field competed on the river out of La Crosse]. I didn’t move around enough, and it came back to haunt me. If you move around enough, something magical will happen. I’m looking for a little magic.”

His practice: “Random.”

Casey Ashley:“It’s definitely different than last time. Who can cover water and figure out what’s going on at the time will win. I hope that’s me.”

His practice: “Scattered.”

Jonathon VanDam:“Someone who can adapt quickly and cover a lot of water will prevail. I can do those things. Well, most of them.”

His practice: “Inconsistent.”

Mark Davis:“Ah! Oh boy, if I win this thing, it’d be because I figured them out as the tournament went on.”

His practice: “Not good.”

Mike McClelland:“It’s going to be an easy tournament to win. If it’s me, it would strictly be because the Good Lord has a plan for me. It’s not the river it was last year, but it’s still going to be an easy tournament for someone to win — if they happen onto the right deal.”

His practice: “Pretty tough.”

Chris Zaldain:“Adaptation. I’m going for the brown ones and the green ones [smallmouth and largemouth]. You need both; the bite is a lot different than last year. And I’ve got current stuff; I’ve got backwater stuff.”

His practice: “Fair.”

Gerald Swindle:“That’s a good question. If I had an advantage, it’d be that I’m not set on an area. I think me having an open mind and moving around would be the reasons I’d win.”

His practice: “Mayhem. Yup, mayhem is the word.”

Brandon Palaniuk:“Because in fishing, anything can happen. Even though I don’t feel very good about this tournament right now, things can change quickly.”

His practice: “Not very good.”

Dean Rojas:“Because I work very hard.”

His practice: “Fair.”

Bill Lowen:“If I had to give one reason, I’d say it’s because this [river] fishes to my strengths. I grew up fishing rivers. If ever this was one for me to win, this would be the one.”

His practice: “Not bad.”