Veterans back in mix after rookie uprising

The 2007 Fantasy Fishing season has offered its share of surprises. Elite Series rookies took the year's first two victories — Boyd Duckett at the Bassmaster Classic and Derek Remitz at the first regular-season event on Lake Amistad.But heading into the first major of the season (Bassmaster Memorial on High Rock Lake, N.C., May 17-20), it's hard to label the 2007 campaign a total shocker — not after veterans Kevin VanDam and Mike McClelland pulled out wins in the past two events. Six events are in the books, and so far, a seemingly contradictory storyline has emerged for fantasy managers: Experience is simultaneously important and insignificant.The season started out as if it would be the Year of the Rookie. Fantasy managers scratched their heads as two unknown anglers busted out of the gate to claim the sport's biggest event and the Elite Series' first derby.Derek Remitz, the rookie winner at Amistad, showed he wasn't a one-hit wonder by following his Amistad victory with a runner-up finish at the Delta and a fifth-place showing at Clarks Hill. He's currently fifth in Angler of the Year points, and he's arguably the best value in fantasy fishing at present. Steve Kennedy and Jared Lintner, both in their sophomore campaigns, provide additional proof that a short Elite Series resume shouldn't preclude an angler's inclusion on fantasy rosters. Kennedy's record-setting performance at Clear Lake was astonishing only in its sheer magnitude. If you paid attention to his incredible rookie season last year, it was obvious he had the talent. His value will continue to climb, but he's still a relative bargain for fantasy managers.

 Likewise, Lintner has been a highlight of many fantasy lineups this season, providing as much bang for the buck as any angler on the tour. Couple his single-digit value with his 5 top-20s, 2 top-10s and a worst finish of 35th this year, and you have one of the most solid plays in fantasy fishing. He trails only Skeet Reese and KVD in Angler of the Year points.Fred Roumbanis has been another bright spot among sophomore anglers, stringing together three respectable derbies (19th, 20th and 21st) before breaking into the top 12 last week at Guntersville. He leads the race for the Toyota Moving Forward Once Award, climbing from 69th to 7th in Angler of the Year standings. Again, he's a value play that helps fantasy managers fill out their rosters without blindly pulling a name off the angler list.

 Still, experience shouldn't be completely dismissed. Three of this season's six winners carry impressive Elite Series resumes. Aaron Martens, winner on the Delta, is past Angler of the Year and a terror on Western waters (among other places). Mike McClelland has been hot the past two years, and his win at Clarks Hill marked his third BASS victory since December 2005. And then there's last week's winner. What else can you say about Kevin VanDam?

 Of course, Skeet Reese has been the real story this season. Though Guntersville wasn't kind to the Golden Boy from the Golden State, his performance this year has been nothing short of amazing. He's currently leading the Angler of the Year race, and he has earned so many points for fantasy owners that it almost seems unfair.

 Where does that leave fantasy managers at this point in the season? Really, you couldn't ask for a better scenario. The surprising mix of veterans and newcomers is the best of both worlds. Fantasy managers can play both their


expensive superstars and their less expensive anglers and feel good about doing both. What else could you ask for?