Ed. note: In advance of each Fantasy BASS Fishing event, a cast of Bassmaster and BASS Times editors and writers as well as a few Tour insiders will weigh-in with their picks for the forthcoming tournament. Here's our experts' thoughts on the first Bassmaster Major event of the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail on Texas' Eagle Mountain Lake and Lake Worth.
HOW IT WORKS Our host of pundits come from varied sources and choose five anglers they believe will compete for the tournament title. Each pundit earns ten points for each of their anglers that makes the cut of 12 anglers and 20 points for picking the tournament winner. Scores are tallied after each tournament and carry over to the next, until one of them is crowned the champion at the end of the season. While pundits are not bound by the 50-point salary cap that you, as a BASS Fantasy Fishing manager, are, their thoughts and insights into the strengths of professional anglers and familiarity with the lakes being fished, as well as inside information gleaned from just doing their jobs, may help you select anglers to your roster.
LAST EVENT BASS INSIDER editor Craig Lamb continued his domination of the pundits with a 30-point performance, which opened his lead to 205 points. The next closest is Huntsville Times writer Alan Clemons, who also scored 30 points and has 175 total points for the season. Clemons vaulted ahead of ESPNOutdoors television host Mark Zona and Bassmaster senior writer Louie Stout who each scored 10 points. On the outside of those four pundits, the rest of the field is on the outside looking in at this point and had better make a move soon or else the leaders will be too far ahead to catch!
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Total pundit points: 120
Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J If there's one thing you can say about Ike right now, it's that he is the most consistent fisherman on the planet.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. It might not be lake Lewisville, but remember what he did in Texas last year during that E-50.
Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. The Hack Attack already has one win this year in the great state of Texas, I wouldn't be surprised to see him back near the top again.
Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas My hometown pick.
Jason Quinn, Lake Wylie, S.C. Another consistent performer this year.
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ESPNOutdoors television commentator
Total pundit points: 170
Dean Rojas, Grand Saline, Texas Kind of had his first hiccup of the year at Clarks Hill. I don't look for that trend to continue at Eagle Mountain. He's done well there before which should give him a slight advantage.
Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. Hot shallow crankin' time is what this guy's all about. Seems when the weather starts getting sticky Evers fires it up.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. It's safe to say he hasn't had a good run of luck lately, BUT he's KVD ... 'nuff said!
Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. Boat Docks + jig bite = Hackney.
Takahiro Omori, Emory, Tex. Another shallow cranker that could be a monster to contain.
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Field reporter, BassCenter
Total pundit points: 120
Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. The format for these Majors really suits Hackney. The last time he competed in this type event was the 2004 Elite 50 Series, and he finished in the top 10 in three of the four events. He'll catch the fish to make the cut, and once on Lake Worth, he'll use his uncanny ability to quickly read the water and figure out the fish to be among Sunday's contenders. Beyond that, don't forget that Hackney was absent from last year's "bonus" tournaments because BASS uses a three-year points total for qualification, and Hackney was only in his second year on tour. He will be looking to make a statement in the Majors.
Takahiro Omori, Emory, Tex. This T.O. will make more noise than that other one who now plays down the road in Dallas. Even though BASS has never held an event on Eagle Mountain, Omori is one of the anglers with some history here. In a non-BASS event last summer, he finished 7th.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. Will the real Kevin VanDam show up? Or will it be that guy who barely made the Day Three cut at Clarks Hill? I'm going with the KVD who blasted the competition in last year's Elite 50s. Like Hackney, he's very good at this format.
Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. He tends to fish well in Texas, most notably an 11th on Amistad to open the season and a fifth in last year's E-50 at Lewisville. And like Takahiro, he has some recent history on this lake, finishing sixth at the Cabela's Top Gun last summer.
Kevin Wirth, Crestwood, Ky. He's made three top-10s in six events this season (including the Classic), and he's due a big payday like the one they'll be handing out here. I also like the fact he was 11th in the Elite 50 on Lewisville a year ago. Plus, if he wins, there'll be Early Times for all.
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Total pundit points: 135
Winners: 0 | Top 6 finishers: 2 | Top 12: 3
This Texas stop could be the toughest fishing the Elite Sereis pros face all year. This fishery isn't the best in Texas and it's quite low. That said, I feel like the winner will be the guy who is most successful at plucking bass from baot docks – the only cover in the lake left in the water.
Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J I have no idea if Ike has ever even fished a dock, but don't mess with a guy on a roll.
Aaron Martens, California/Alabama I have a feeling the postspawn Texas bass may be a bit finicky. If this is the case, Martens will find a two-inch lure in his box that nobody has ever heard of and catch 'em in a way nobody has ever tried.
Alton Jones, Waco, Texas Tough to bet against this guy: Hometown boy, has momentum, has likely fished the lakes before.
Denny Brauer, Camdenton, Mo. Time to go retro. Daddy Brauer is having a heck of a year and has caught more fish from docks than anyone else fishing this tourney. Plus, he seems to rise to the occasion when big money is on the line.
Brooks Rogers, Quitman, Texas My darkhorse pick for the event, this Texan can flip docks with the best of 'em and he's due for a top finish.
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Senior Writer, Bassmaster
Total pundit points: 170
Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J He's focused and thrives in this kind of environment.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. KVD has had his problems this year, but the man excels in big money, small field events.
Brent Chapman, Shawnee, Kan. He won a big tournament here last fall so he should have confidence.
Gerald Swindle, Hayden, Ala. He's fished Eagle before and knows how to catch spotted bass.
Davy Hite, Prosperity, S.C. The month of May has been good to him. It's produced three of his six regular season BASS victories and both of his Angler of Year titles were locked up with strong May finishes.
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The Huntsville (Ala.) Times
Total pundit points: 175
The gauntlet was tossed down at the Orlando Classic in February when Mark Zona, Brian Lynn and I agreed upon a "hair-brained" bet for the Pundits Picks this season.
Winner is in the clear. Runner-up is in the clear. Loser of the three will have "BASS" shaved into the back of their head at the 2007 Classic.
Life is good for Z-Man and me right now a third of the way into the season. However, Mr. Lynn has quite a hole to dig out of lest his short-cropped locks be carved into just a few months from now.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. When conditions are tough he's tough to beat, plus VanDam has a way of climbing to the top when one of these "new" tournaments shows up on the schedule. Adding the first Bassmaster Major to his resume wouldn't look too bad.
Steve Kennedy, Auburn, Ala. Dude's on a very solid roll, especially after winning the FLW Tour event last weekend on Kentucky Lake.
Aaron Martens, California/Alabama Gut feeling he'll pull something out this week.
Kevin Wirth, Crestwood, Ky. Quietly sitting among the leaders for Angler of the Year, meaning he's been consistent this season.
Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J It became clear after the Guntersville tournament he's focused on fishing and nothing else. Figuring out two lakes and a "hole course" format in a short time period also will be a challenge, one Ike won't back down from this week.
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Associate Editor, ESPNOutdoors.com
Total pundit points: 130
Okay, while we're only halfway through the season, I'm getting desperate. I'm watching as Lamb, Clemons and Zona pull further and further ahead. Lamb may be un-freak-in' catchable but for the sake of my pride and the joy that comes from humiliating others, I have to catch Zona and/or Clemons so as to avoid a public head shaving. After whooping up on the pundits last year, I can't find my mojo. Like your favorite fantasy angler that has been frustrated by the new tournament trail, I can't seem to consistently pick a strong team.
So, for my desperate tactic this tournament, I'm going with all Texas anglers with one notable exception.
Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. He's the notable exception. Honestly, I don't think KVD is going to do well. I think he's going to crash back to earth after his incredible run and his Clarks Hill performance is just the beginning of the end. Then again, what do I know? I'm in the third-to-last spot and KVD could bounce right back and dominate once again. Can't take that chance so he's on Team Lynn for the first-ever Major.
Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas Living just West of the Metroplex and #3 on the all-time money list and #17 on the Power Index.
Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas Former Classic winner and #8 on the all-time money list and #20 on the Power Index.
Alton Jones, Waco, Texas Lives South of the Metroplex and is #10 on the all-time money list and #30 on the Power Index.
Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas Lake Fork angler, which is just East of the Metroplex. Sitting at #12 on the Power Index.
.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left" alt="lamb">Craig Lamb
Editor, BASS INSIDER
Total pundit points: 205
Rick Clunn, Ava, Mo. This is a tournament for the hottest sticks and angling greats, right? Remember how skilled Clunn is at patterning fish in a hurry on strange water? As in his four Classic wins?
Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J He proved last year at the Dardanelle Elite 50 that he's the "junk fisherman extraordinaire." And this lake reeks of junk, as in the technique. Plus, he's the hottest thing on the tour. Why not? Never give up!
Dean Rojas, Grand Saline, Texas Word has it the upper reaches of Eagle Mountain have reeds. Hmm. Aren't there reeds in Lake Havasu and other western fisheries where this home boy boy hails from? Sounds like the perfect setting for Kermit to be skipped through the Texas tules. Oh yeah, almost forgot: He's fifth in AOY and the PI. Not bad.
Aaron Martens, California/Alabama I'm going with Aaron because he excels in tough, uncertain conditions like the guys might face on Eagle Mountain. The description of this lake, to a certain extent, reads like the West Coast impoundments where he cut his bass fishing teeth.
Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas Here's my home boy pick. But Klein, like Clunn, likes the challenge of fishing on strange, new water when he's going rod-to-rod with his peers.