CENTRAL SQUARE, N.Y. The 51 Elite Series anglers prepping for a parade through this western New York village took a few moments Wednesday to predict which of them would excel in the Bassmaster Memorial presented by Evan Williams Bourbon.
The usual suspects were named but then, as the cream of the Elites, these guys all are usual suspects and the picks reveal something of how the anglers expect the tournament conditions to unfold on Oneida Lake and, after Days One and Two, on Onondaga Lake.
Aaron Martens He's good at locating the right smallies.
Skeet Reese He's doing well.
Jared Lintner He's having a baby.
Aaron Martens He's fishing good on smallmouth.
Kevin VanDam Just because he's so good at smallmouth.
Yusuke Miyazaki If he can catch the bigger ones like he did here last year, he'll be in good shape.
Dave Wolak He has fished this lake a lot and he has a bunch of insight.
Myself I've had a good practice and if I can make the top-12 cut, I'm real good at fishing new water.
Aaron Martens The smallies are bigger this year and I know he is going to be the guy who will cull through 100 of them to get the right ones.
Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese They have been fishing good all year.
Myself I wish the water were a little higher, but if I can make the top-12, you never know.
Kevin VanDam Because of the smallmouth thing. He's like a smallmouth god.
Greg Hackney He never does well at these things where you have to swing for the fence. I think he might be a little ticked, and want to win this thing.
Kevin Short What the hell? If you can't pick yourself, you don't need to be here.
Kevin VanDam He's a good smallmouth fisherman and, obviously, a great largemouth fisherman. He's used to fishing these types of waters.
Denny Brauer He's probably my largemouth pick. He's a legend in the sport, the No. 2 all-time money winner, and knows how to get it done.
John Murray He had a good week last week, he's a good fisherman and he had a good tournament last year. He's a good largemouth-smallmouth combination fisherman.
Kevin VanDam I don't think he's had a real good smallmouth tournament yet, and I think he wants to prove himself. It quite obviously sets up for his style of fishing.
Greg Hackney If anybody can catch smallmouth, it's him. He his the new smallmouth guru. Kevin can't hold a candle to this kid here. (Note: Hackney was standing three feet from Browning at the time.)
Stephen Browning I'll have to pick myself because I've had an outstanding practice.
Tommy Biffle I always pick the defending champ. When a guy wins, you've got to pick him. And he's got the mojo on this lake.
Edwin Evers Because he won the last one, and he's on a roll. You've got to go with the hot hand.
Timmy Horton He went from the top of the heap at Champlain to the bottom last week. You know he's mad.
Kevin VanDam You always pick VanDam.
Aaron Martens They're biting dropshot pretty good. And I've seen him on a spot where I know there's a lot of fish.
Timmy Horton He'll catch a lot of largemouth. He's a good flipper.
Kevin VanDam The no-brainer. He's just as good as it gets at smallmouth.
Matt Reed You've got to pick yourself. If you don't think you'll do well, you may as well not go out there.
Edwin Evers As hot as you can get right now. You've got to pick him.
Kelly Jordon Maybe a hunch. He can catch them both, largemouth and smallmouth. I think it might take a mixed bag.
Aaron Martens He had a good tournament here last year, and he can catch smallmouth.
Kevin VanDam He's a real good smallmouth fisherman. Those smallmouth aren't deep. You can move fast and catch them, so that plays to his advantage.
Aaron Martens He's a great dropshotter. If I can catch 50 a day doing it, he's probably catching 100.
Peter Thliveros He went and scouted the other lake today, so he must have been pretty optimistic about making it there.
Jared Lintner His wife's due this week.
Aaron Martens He's on a roll. He's hot. It's a finesse bite.
Derek Remitz This fits his style well. Grass, rocks, smallmouth he knows how to find them.
Greg Hackney He proved he can catch them over there at Erie. And there are both largemouth and smallmouth here. I think it'll take a mixed bag to win.
Editor's note: Check in each day for live video of the weigh-in and the realtime leaderboard at 6 p.m. ET. There will be a special Hooked Up show at 10 a.m. ET Saturday, with tournament updates Sunday at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon ET. The Hooked Up show begins at 5 p.m. Sunday and leads into the live final weigh-in.
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