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Fantasy Fishing picks

2/17/2011

Pete Robbins, Bassmaster.com

  • Kevin VanDam -- The most boring pick possible, but he's a blue chipper. Every time I bet against him I get burned. Normally, he's a bad pick because everyone has him, although that may not be the case given the depth of this group. Either way I can live with that.

  • Todd Faircloth -- He's been on the verge of breaking through to super-stardom for the past few years, narrowly missing AOY in 2008 and fishing in the winning area at last year's Classic. I was tempted to take Rook and Pace. Versatile, can win on the grass of East Texas or the deep clear water of Table Rock, he always seems to be in the hunt.

  • Dave Wolak -- I was tempted to take Mark Davis in this bracket, because he's one of my sentimental favorites, but Wolak, like Faircloth, is on the verge of breaking through to the next level. He's good in grass and has been fishing well over the past year.

  • Keith Combs -- This is the "nice guy bracket." Lots of people who I would like to see win (Kennedy, Lowen, Chapman) and I'm sure a lot of people will pick Evers. Combs could completely bomb, but last year he was a big stick -- set an FLW one-day weight record, a PAA three-day weight record, and won the Central Open points title.

  • Sean Alvarez -- The Vermonster.

    Steve Bowman, Bassmaster.com

  • Greg Hackney -- This group is so strong that you could pick any one of them and feel good about it. The Hack Attack, though, could have a slight edge. Not only is it close to his current home, but in some ways it will fish like the lower Arkansas River where he cut his teeth in the fishing game.

  • Matt Herren -- The dude is just strong with a jig in his hand, from a fishing standpoint and a mental standpoint. He's hungry and he's done his homework and he's due.

  • Terry Butcher -- The quiet tactician. He's coming off his best year, his confidence is high and you can expect him to quietly be in the mix on the last day.

  • Edwin Evers -- He's been successful in the Delta and like his brother-in-law, he's coming off a hot year. But Evers has something to prove. He may even have a little chip on his shoulder. He'll be ready to play coming tourney day.

  • Paul Elias -- Not only is he a sentimental favorite. He's one of the smartest guys out there. The Delta may be big, but some think it will boil down to one small area, with one angler milking it for everything it has. That suits Elias perfectly.

    James Hall, Bassmaster Magazine Editor

  • Gerald Swindle -- Success breeds confidence, which in turn breeds more success. The G-Man just won his first B.A.S.S. event and he has had great results on the Louisiana Delta.

  • Dean Rojas -- There are 800 miles of shoreline to choose from for the Classic anglers. About 799 of these miles are very conducive to a floating frog. If the weather warms enough for the frog bite to go off, Kermit could be king of the Classic.

  • Kelly Jordon -- This is about as close to a hometown pick as you can get. Jordon loves to fish saltwater in his off-time, so he understands the marsh atmosphere. Plus, he about due for another win.

  • Keith Combs -- I have picked Combs to win the Classic for two months now (totally based on the Chinese Zodiac), so I have to keep the faith. Year of the rabbit, baby.

  • Morizo Shimizu -- OK, no real reason to pick Shimizu over any of these other guys ... other than it is time for another Japanese angler to win the Classic.

    Dave Precht, Senior Director of B.A.S.S. Publications

  • Gary Klein -- One of these years, Gary's going to win it. With 28 tries under his belt, I believe 29 will be his lucky number. This is his water, and this is his year. (But I sure wish I could put a few others in Group A on my Fantasy lineup.)

  • Todd Faircloth -- The 2011 champion might well come out of Group B, which is populated with intense competitors, many of whom are at home in tidal fisheries. Faircloth has done well in the Delta before, and he's overdue for a Classic win.

  • Mark Davis -- I don't have a good reason for picking Davis over the others, other than the facts that he won the '95 Classic, he's competed in 14 Classics (including all three New Orleans championships), and he's an awfully good stick wherever he fishes.

  • Brent Chapman -- I was fishing the Louisiana Delta last fall when Brent and some other anglers were scouting the waters. According to dock talk around Venice, Brent was catching limits of 4-pounders every day. That was then; this is now, but I believe he'll be on fish.

  • Paul Elias -- I have to go with Elias, the only angler in this group who's been to the big show before. He has only fished a Classic in the Louisiana Delta once (2001), but he finished 9th. Having won the Classic in 1982 and competed in 13 others, he can handle the pressure, and he knows how to win. That gives him a huge advantage over the Classic rookies in Group E.

    Ken Duke, Editor of Bassmaster.com

  • Kevin VanDam -- How do you not pick the best who ever was when he's won here before and understands how important this tournament is to his legacy as an angler? In the Classic, KVD's problem is frequently boat traffic. He managed it beautifully to win last year on Lay Lake. This year it shouldn't be as much of a factor because of how the Delta lays out and how difficult it will be for fans to follow the anglers. Look for him to make a run at Rick Clunn's four championships.

  • Cliff Pace -- He's got the talent and he almost certainly knows the waters better than anyone else in the field. If he has a good first day (less than three pounds off the lead), look out! He'll find a way to close it out and take home the big check. If he doesn't have a good first day ... well, no one ever recovers from that. One of these years, Pace is going to win a Classic. It just might be this one.

  • Mark Davis -- This will be Davis' fourth Delta Classic, and his performances have been less than stellar (21st, 23rd and 31st), but this one's not in the summer, and Davis is always strong in the early season. I expect him to post his best Delta finish ever and make a run at the title. He's versatile, adaptable and the pressure of the spotlight won't bother him in the least.

  • Bill Lowen -- Eventually, the bass fishing world is going to learn just how good Lowen is at fishing shallow water -- growing up fishing the Ohio River system will do that for you. The Delta Classic might be the real coming out party for Lowen and his swim jig. "The Turtle" needs to stick to his strengths and fish his game if he' going to take that next step to fishing stardom.

  • Brandon Palaniuk -- Can you say "Kerchal vibe"? I didn't know Bryan Kerchal, but I know he was a special person and angler who put it all together for three days in 1994. Palaniuk has the skills and maybe the intangibles to do the same thing in the Delta. He might shock the world by winning as a Federation Nation qualifier, but he won't shock me.

    David Hunter Jones, Bassmaster.com

  • KVD -- Though I'd like to see Gary Klein get a win, it's hard to bet against the greatest angler of all time. Nevermind that he's already won a Classic on the Delta.

  • Cliff Pace -- This guy probably knows the Delta as good as any of the field, but hasn't been getting much press as of late. Watch for Cliff to set the pace early.

  • Terry Butcher -- Not sure why he's in the "C" group because this Okie can flat catch 'em. Plus, he's coming off of a very solid year on the Elite circuit.

  • Steve Kennedy -- This guy scares a lot of the Elite field, so the Classic is no different.

  • Brandon Palaniuk -- My feel-good pick has to be the young Idahoan. I mean, he's driving all the way from northern Idaho to fish this thing! That's a haul.

    Wes Miller, B.A.S.S. television cameraman

  • Tommy Biffle --This tourney could tourn into a pitching match with the jig, and he is very good at that. He has been to the big show many times, and knows how to win.

  • Jeff Kriet -- He finished second last year and will be fishing his heart out to make it happen this year.

  • Kelly Jordon -- I think this could be his beak-out year where he wins tourneys and finishes high in the points, and will kick it all off with a Classic trophy.

  • Edwin Evers -- He finished last year high in the points and will want to continue his hard work in the Delta. The Classic should play into his style of fishing.

  • Ryan Said -- No idea who this is but if he were to win, think of all the jokes we can make with his name. Who said? Ryan Said! That's who.

    Rob Russow, Bassmaster.com

  • Gary Klein -- This tournament is his to win. Although Group A is full of talent, picking anybody but Klein just wouldn't be any fun. His Delta experience (shooting and fishing) and desire to win a Classic will finally put him over the top.

  • Cliff Pace -- Living only two hours away is as close to home field advantage as you can get without your last name being Hackney. When I talked to Pace last summer, he was already salivating at the prospect of a Classic in his backyard.

  • Randall Tharp -- Tharp is a shallow-water fisherman. New Orleans is full of shallow water. Bingo. Add in some momentum off his second-place finish at Okeechobee recently and you have a dangerous player in the Big Easy.

  • Edwin Evers -- How Edwin Evers snuck into Group D while the rest of his fellow power hitters were in Group A boggles my mind. He's a must pick no matter who he's stacked up against and could very well win it all. The most consistent angler last year will get 2011 off right without question. Guaranteed top five.

  • Morizo Shimizu -- This is the toughest pick and I'm curious to see who my fellow pundits choose. Only one angler here has been to the Classic before (Elias) and many will be just enjoying the ride. I'd like to pick Palaniuk, but Shimizu is a sentimental pick. I'd love to see him do well. This is just a gut pick and my advice is to go with yours. Any of these could make the top-25 cut, but most won't. It will just be a matter of picking the one sleeping gem, or something like that.

    Mike Suchan, Bassmaster.com

  • Gary Klein -- Despite liking the usually suspects, a victory by Klein in his 29th Classic would be super emotional. You'd see more tears in the arena than when Old Yeller died, maybe even some from the tough old bird himself.

  • Cliff Pace -- Pick up the Pace. Considering some of the Delta his home water, a steady Pace could navigate through the field and break through with a win.

  • Kelly Jordon -- Seeing Jordon leave the Shreveport Classic just beside himself showed me how much the Classic means to him. Also, he bought one of Sherry's cookies from KVD,
    so he's a shoo-in. And he's simply the biggest threat in the C group.

  • Edwin Evers -- Wow, what is Evers doing down here. Last year's AOY runner-up has a history of top finishes in Louisiana, and expect that to continue.

  • Brandon Palaniuk -- It'd be nice to have a young gun like Federation Nation champ Palaniuk hit the big time with a bang. The 23-year-old who's living out of his truck for his first year of the Elites said he's watched Bryan Kerchal's Classic victory 25 times, and can visualize himself becoming the Nation's second champ.