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Pundit picks: Diet Mountain Dew Bassmaster Elite at Lake Guntersville

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Who Chris Lane would pick for Guntersville

By Tyler Wade 

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Chris Lane is just coming off a big win on the Sabine River and has come home to his abode on Lake Guntersville, where the next Bassmaster Elite Series event will be held. So, he’s a shoe-in for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, right?

Not so fast, he says.

“I love Guntersville, but I never get to fish it in spring!” said Lane. “I’m always gone, fishing other tournaments!”

Read the rest of the article here or below.

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All about that grass

By Pete Robbins

I achieved a pretty miserable Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing showing at the Sabine, with my team led by Dennis Tietje’s back-from-the-dead 33rd-place showing, while “sure things” like Day 1 stud Bill Lowen, super-flipper Randall Tharp and not-a-real-rookie Brent Ehrler came up short.

Unlike the Sabine, where you’d expect local knowledge to play a major role, Guntersville is more or less an even playing field at this level. That’s not to say that the Alabama natives and transplants won’t have some slight advantages, just that this fishery might be the best-known entity on tour. It’s relatively easy to run, the fish are patternable, and if more than 10 members of the field have not been there before, I’ll eat a deep diving crankbait.

Read the rest of the article here or below.

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Toyota wrap-up: Grigsby was best overall pick (but Lane was pretty good, too)

By Tyler Wade

ORANGE, Texas — If you didn’t pick Shaw Grigsby for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, you just plain messed up. He was the best overall pick for the Bassmaster Elite at the Sabine River presented by Stark Cultural Venues.

Here’s the perfect team:

Bucket A: Chris Lane, 360 points

B: Mike McClelland, 295

C: Shaw Grigsby, 272

D: Keith Poche, 257

E: Micah Frazier, 254

Total: 1,438

No Fantasy Fishing player achieved a score that high. Read the rest of the article here or below.

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Full articles

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Who Chris Lane would pick for Guntersville

By Tyler Wade

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. — Chris Lane is just coming off a big win on the Sabine River and has come home to his abode on Lake Guntersville, where the next Bassmaster Elite Series event will be held. So, he’s a shoe-in for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, right?

Not so fast, he says.

“I love Guntersville, but I never get to fish it in spring!” said Lane. “I’m always gone, fishing other tournaments!”

Lane has other pros picked to do well on Guntersville. Here are the anglers he would put on his Fantasy Fishing team.

Bucket A: Martens

Chris Lane didn’t hesitate in Bucket A.

“Aaron Martens, definitely,” he said. “This fits his style of fishing so well.

“Whether it’s crankbaits, swimbaits, bed fishing, topwaters, he finds fish other people don’t find.”

But don’t count out Gerald Swindle or Jordan Lee.

“Swindle is always at the top,” said Lane.

“And you better watch out for Jordan Lee. He’s coming off a very good finish on the Sabine. I saw him a good bit the first day and he was struggling. But he came back and figured it out. He’s got a confidence momentum right now.”

Bucket B: Remitz

Derek Remitz was Lane’s top pick for B.

“He knows this place very well,” Lane said of Remitz, who lives on Guntersville.

And expect Casey Ashley to do well, too, said Lane.

“He’s coming off a Classic win, so he’s got momentum, and he did well here in the 2014 Classic.”

Bucket C: VanDam, Tharp

“Pick Kevin VanDam just because he’s Kevin VanDam!” said Lane with a laugh. “He’s had a lot of success here. It’s the Tennessee River; he’s always good here. I don’t think there’s anything more that needs to be said than that.”

Randall Tharp is another good option.

“He grew up here,” said Lane. “These are his stomping grounds.”

Matt Lee is another he gives the nod to based on his experience on Guntersville.

Bucket D: Christie, Hawk

“I’d pick Jason Christie,” said Lane, “just because when you set up river systems or reservoir systems like this, he has a tendency to do very well, like on Dardanelle.”

Kevin Hawk, one of the other residents of Guntersville, gets a vote of confidence from Lane, too.

“He’s been here a long time and he has fished Guntersville a lot.”

Bucket E: Lane, Walker

“I’d get Bobby for this one,” said Lane of his brother. “He’s done very well here. And I’d go for David Walker, too.

“They’re both coming off bad finishes on the Sabine,” said Lane, “and they are two extremely good anglers. They’re going to bring the heat.”

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All about that grass

By Pete Robbins

I achieved a pretty miserable Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing showing at the Sabine, with my team led by Dennis Tietje’s back-from-the-dead 33rd-place showing, while “sure things” like Day 1 stud Bill Lowen, super-flipper Randall Tharp and not-a-real-rookie Brent Ehrler came up short.

Unlike the Sabine, where you’d expect local knowledge to play a major role, Guntersville is more or less an even playing field at this level. That’s not to say that the Alabama natives and transplants won’t have some slight advantages, just that this fishery might be the best-known entity on tour. It’s relatively easy to run, the fish are patternable, and if more than 10 members of the field have not been there before, I’ll eat a deep diving crankbait.

Absent a tornado or some other natural disaster, this one is going to be an absolute slugfest. Again, that’s different than the Sabine, where less than 12 pounds earned an angler the right to fish on Saturday for cash. At Guntersville, 12 pounds after two days will almost certainly provide you with a trip to work the Expo on Saturday, if not a meeting with a career counselor.

That doesn’t mean this one will be any easier to pick, though. It’s just as hard to win one of these as it is to win a grind-’em-out nailbiter. An angler who manages to add a kicker or two each day to a steady supply of 3- to 4-pound fish will distinguish himself.

He’ll also have to make peace with the Big G’s grass. There are certainly still some fish around the Spring Creek bridge, but I highly doubt that the winning string will come from that spot as it did at last year’s Classic.

Moreover, the fish will likely be doing a lot of different things, so someone who finds some sight fish to go with a few heavy prespawners will be better prepared for four days of combat on this heavily fished pond.

Here are my picks.

Bucket A: Lane, Lucas, Faircloth

Local Pick: Chris Lane

Chris Lane lives there now, he’s clearly fishing well, and he’s a grassmaster. Tough to pass up that combination. He’ll also be heavily picked. I need to buck some trends if I’m going to make up ground.

Almost Picked: Justin Lucas

Like Lane, Justin Lucas moved to Guntersville, and he’s coming off a Top 10 finish at the Sabine. He hasn’t finished out of the money in eight straight B.A.S.S. events. Should still be a value pick, too, because he’s not as well-known to the masses as many of the other members of Bucket A are.

My Pick: Todd Faircloth

Todd Faircloth is incredibly consistent with the chops to close out a win, and a legendary master of the East Texas grass. Seventh place at last year’s Classic on Guntersville, 11th place here in 2009, 21st in 2007, 15th in 2006. Thirteen Top 10 finishes in the past three years of competition (plus one event this year), with three runner-up finishes and two wins. A quiet killer.

Bucket B: Swindle, R. Lane, Iaconelli

Local Pick: Gerald Swindle

Gerald Swindle has spent tons of time on Guntersville, and he started off the year fine on the Sabine. He’s performed reasonably well in past B.A.S.S. events on Guntersville, but he hasn’t made a run at winning one here since 2006.

Almost Picked: Russ Lane

Russ Lane finished fifth in the 2010 Elite Series tournament on Guntersville, came in 10th at BASSfest at Chickamauga last year. He’d be a dark horse of sorts, only because Cliff Pace, Mike Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle, Randy Howell and Tommy Biffle will eat up ownership percentages in this bracket, so if he did make a run at victory, he’d be worth a lot.

My Pick: Mike Iaconelli

Iaconelli won here in 2006 and finished fourth in 2009, but he had a dismal Classic here in 2014. I’m willing to rule that latter performance out, owing to the fact that Classics have a different set of incentives than regular-season events. He’s had some other poor finishes on Guntersville, but he’s started this regular season strong, as opposed to 2013 and 2014, and I expect that momentum to continue as he challenges for an AOY title.

Bucket C: Tharp, Combs, VanDam

Local Pick: Randall Tharp

Despite the current Florida mailing address, Randall Tharp called Alabama home for a long time and turned in an exceptional performance at the 2014 Classic on Guntersville. Not sure what happened to him on the Sabine, where I expected that he’d be strong. Maybe the big fish mojo that carries him elsewhere doesn’t work when plain keepers are scarce.

Almost Picked: Keith Combs

Like Faircloth, Keith Combs is a beast in the grass and does a lot of things well. Had a middling Classic in 2014, as well as a tough showing on Chickamauga, just up the road. I may regret not picking either Tharp or Combs when I see the photo of one of them standing with a Guntersville Century Club belt.

My Pick: Kevin VanDam

Normally I’m hesitant to pick Superman, especially on the Tennessee River, where Kevin VanDam has been especially dominant. When the vast majority of your competitors choose him, that’s a tough sell. This year, though, he might be a value pick in Bucket C, coming off a trying 2014 season and a middle-of-the-pack showing at the Sabine, especially with guys like Jacob Powroznik, Ott DeFoe, Skeet Reese, Tharp and Combs in his bucket. He was second at Chickamauga last year, just one of 14 Top 10 B.A.S.S. finishes on the Tennessee River chain in his career.

Bucket D: Morgenthaler, Jordon, Ehrler

Local Pick: Chad Morgenthaler

Huh? How is an Illinois native building a house in Missouri a local? Well, during Chad Morgenthaler’s past several years of “homelessness,” he has spent a lot of time with his fifth wheel parked on Guntersville’s shores. He’s most comfortable flipping grass, as his two Florida wins indicate. He made a strong showing on the first two days of last year’s Classic, and was the runner-up to Powroznik last year at Toledo Bend in a tournament that played out fairly similar to the way in which I expect this one to happen.

Almost Picked: Kelly Jordon

A risky bet because Kelly Jordon’s performance in recent years has not been up to historical KJ standards, but at some point he’s going to bust a giant string. The Texas grass expert and sight fisherman extraordinaire won a Tour event here 13 years ago during almost exactly the same week, but I’m not ready to pull the trigger on him until I see some return to form.

My Pick: Brent Ehrler

Brent Ehrler disappointed many Fantasy Fishing geeks (myself included) at the Sabine. I’m hoping that’ll lead some people to drop him, as will the false perception that he’s a finesse guy. He’s won flipping and he’s fished plenty of grass lakes, from California to Florida, stopping in Alabama more times than he can recall. I highly doubt he’ll be in the vicinity of 87th place any time again this year.

Bucket E: Kennedy, Roumbanis, Evers

Local Pick: Steve Kennedy

The fan in me wants Steve Kennedy to win again. The actuary in me runs from his inconsistent performances. His 91st-place finish at the Sabine does not bode well, but it would be just like him to bounce back with a minimal-practice wire-to-wire victory. Since finishing third here in 2006, he has not again challenged for a win.

Almost Picked: Fred Roumbanis

Fred Roumbanis is another excellent grass angler and big bass expert, as evidenced by the monster he caught here during the 2014 Classic. After a horrible start at the Sabine, he’ll need to bounce back fast. He was 10th here in 2010, but his prior Elite finishes were middling at best.

My Pick: Edwin Evers

It’s odd to me to see an eight-time B.A.S.S. winner, still in the prime of his career, in Bucket E. While Evers has never won a Bassmaster event on the Tennessee River, he was third in last year’s Classic, 19th in 2010, 36th in 2007, seventh in 2006 and third in 2005. He’s steady all year long, but the 94th-place finish at the Sabine notwithstanding, he’s especially good during the spawn.

Those are five pretty vanilla picks, all guys who typically have heavy ownership percentages, not a true dark horse in the bunch. I can live with that this early in the year because the buckets are not distributed according to long-term trends but rather on the basis of recent history. There’s probably a way to exploit that market inefficiency, and I hope that I can take advantage of it.

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Toyota wrap-up: Grigsby was best overall pick (but Lane was pretty good, too)

By Tyler Wade

ORANGE, Texas — If you didn’t pick Shaw Grigsby for your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, you just plain messed up. He was the best overall pick for the Bassmaster Elite at the Sabine River presented by Stark Cultural Venues.

Here’s the perfect team:

Bucket A: Chris Lane, 360 points

B: Mike McClelland, 295

C: Shaw Grigsby, 272

D: Keith Poche, 257

E: Micah Frazier, 254

Total: 1,438

No Fantasy Fishing player achieved a score that high.

Bucket A: Lane

Of course you should have picked Chris Lane. He not only won the tournament, earning 300 points, but he led all four days — so that’s a 5-point leader bonus times 4 — and he caught the biggest bag of the tournament, which is worth another 40 points.

But of course, you probably didn’t pick him. Only 2.7 percent of players did. Those players earned beaucoup points and earned the right to shame all the other players who didn’t have faith in the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champ and the guy who pulled off a 355-point win for his Fantasy Fishing owners this time last year at the St. Johns. In fact, Lane now owns the Top 2 spots in Fantasy Fishing points wins of all the Elite Series anglers in the past two years.

Next time you wonder if you should pick Chris Lane for a tournament, the answer is probably yes.

One other group of fans got to rejoice in the hefty 40-point bonus for big bag, and those are the 0.3 percent of fans who chose John Crews. He ended with 316 points in Bucket A and was the second-best pick behind Lane.

The popular picks in Bucket A did well, but compared to Lane, they were terrible, at least as it relates to Fantasy Fishing points. Greg Hackney scored 280 points for his 13.3 percent of fans; Todd Faircloth, 264 for 34.8 percent; and Dean Rojas, 237 for 16.5 percent. If you were among the one-third of the bucket who chose Faircloth, you lost his bucket by nearly 100 points.

The worst picks in Bucket A were David Walker, 61 points; Brandon Palaniuk, 73; and Jared Lintner, 79, but combined, those anglers had only 2 percent of owners.

Bucket B: McClelland

Mike McClelland threatened to win the tournament. He came in second instead. But he did win Bucket B, producing 295 points for his 2.2 percent of players.

Practically no one picked Brandon Lester — 0.3 percent — but those who did were rewarded with the second-best points in the bucket, 285.

Terry Scroggins owners, at 4.5 percent, were surely disappointed to not see him fish on the final day, but they were hopeful that his big bass on Day 1 would hold up. It did, and they got a 40-point bump. He delivered 263 points for his fans.

Bobby Lane was definitely the wrong brother to have on your Fantasy Fishing team. He earned only 71 points for his 12.9 percent of fans. Alton Jones, owned by 10.9 percent, gave up only 91 points. Bill Lowen was a favorite with 14.4 percent of owners, but he earned only 161 points.

The most popular pick of B was Mike Iaconelli at 22.1 percent. He delivered 215 points for his fans — good, but still an 80-point loss from the McClelland pickers.

Bucket C: Grigsby

Shaw Grigsby — just like Chris Lane and Mike McClelland — was owned by less than 3 percent of players but was the best pick in his bucket.

Grigsby’s seventh-place finish was good for 272 points. He’s the best overall pick because the angler closest to him, Hank Cherry, was 55 points back.

The favorite in this bucket was Kevin VanDam with 40.6 percent of owners, but he earned only 183 points, nearly a 90-point deficit off Grigsby.

Other popular picks were Stephen Browning, 10.1 percent, 199 points, and Ish Monroe, 17.6 percent, 189.

The worst pick of the bucket was Chad Pipkens. He was only owned by 1.6 percent of players, but those who stood by him earned exactly zero points, putting them 272 points behind those who picked Grigsby.

Bucket D: Poche

Louisiana native Keith Poche’s Alabama address must have thrown people off because only 3.2 percent of people picked him. But he earned 257 points for his comparatively small group of fans.

You did well, though, if you were among the 4 percent who chose Boyd Duckett — fewer than 10 points back of Poche.

Some pundits predicted Fantasy Fishing would be won or lost in Bucket D, and that ended up not being true. The big points differentials were in A and C. The anglers who were the most favored in D — Cliff Pace, Tommy Biffle and Dennis Tietje — all did well enough to be less than 50 points behind Poche, and those owners made up 57 percent of the group.

Two anglers in D, Scott Ashmore and Byron Velvick, went fishless on the Sabine, and their combined 1.6 percent of owners paid the price with zero points.

Bucket E: Frazier

Bucket E was very small this time, meant to include only rookies. But due to an error, we included Kevin Ledoux in here, too. So it was mostly rookies, plus one who’s just been out for a while.

Micah Frazier was the right rookie. He earned 254 points for his 0.6 percent of fans. David Williams came in second with 243 points for his 0.5 percent of fans.

What do Frazier and Williams not have that Brent Ehrler does? Name recognition. Ehrler was owned by more than half of the bucket — precisely 51.3 percent — and wow, all of those are wishing they had heard of Frazier or Williams.

Ehrler earned only 101 points in his first Elite Series event. Because of his very high ownership, if you chose any angler higher than him, you practically won the bucket.

Jordan Lee put up good points for his strong following of 9.7 percent of fans with 231 points. Paul Mueller, who was owned by a strong 15.7 percent, came in even lower than Ehrler with 95 points.

Ledoux was fishless, so his fans went pointsless.

The good thing about Bucket E for Guntersville is that it will be bigger and will not be just rookies. It will be the bottom 20 or so guys from Sabine, which means you will have some very big names to pick from on one of the best fisheries in the country.

Good luck on the next tournament!

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