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Pundits picks

8/21/2007

BASS officials moved this week's Legends tournament 90 miles upstream from Little Rock to Dardanelle, but our pundits say it shouldn't matter much. The Arkansas River has been rolling and our experts say that Dardanelle will fish more like a river than a lake this week.

You'll see a trend toward river fishermen, local favorites and the kind of guys who always seem to be at the top of everyone's list (Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam).

But pay attention to the finesse guys, too. A local tournament held this past weekend put a lot of pressure on Dardanelle, so finesse tactics figure to be a big factor.

Fantasy managers also should take note of a little-known fact: Four of our five pundits hail from the state of Arkansas and have spent countless hours on Dardanelle themselves (you can guess from the accent that Zona isn't one of them, but we're not taking anything away from our northern friend).

Without further ado, this week's selections …

Tommy Sanders, The Bassmasters on ESPN2
Kevin VanDam Two wins and trying to stay sharp for a final stand at Toho for the Angler of the Year title. I can't drop VanDam.

Skeet Reese What a year. The runner-up monkey has left town, and he's ready for a big-money major. I think he'll figure out Dardanelle as well as anyone.

Aaron Martens I think if he can make it to the top 12, he'll make something happen.

Mike McClelland He's a strong student of bass fishing, and when you get him on lakes within 100 miles of home, he's ready to go.

Scott Rook Imagine getting the chance to repeat a big-money win on water where you've got 75 good places to fish and everyone else has seven. Then they change the venue. I think he'll get over it and do well upriver in Dardanelle.

Mark Zona, The Bassmasters on ESPN2
Mark Tucker When you combine the looks of a sharpshooter from HBO's "Deadwood" with offshore Dardanelle knowledge, you know you're making the "player's list."

Aaron Martens Hot temps and deeper bass make the "Dirty Bird" a lock this week.

Greg Hackney It has been a "flighty" season for Hackasaurus, but there should be some sort of a shallow bite kickin' this week, so I'm staying on the bus I've ridden all year long.

Kevin VanDam He's not at all happy with what went on at the Potomac, so someone's gonna pay.

Skeet Reese I have no clue what's gotten into this freight train, but he's hotter than a pistolero. I will no longer listen to his B.S. that he's having a terrible practice and won't catch a thing. No doubt he's one of the best picks in the world right now.

Why Play?


Fantasy Fishing (Click here for Fantasy) champion is a neat title that comes with some unprecedented perks. The biggest is, along with the 2007 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year, the Fantasy Angler of the Year will be a part of the final Bassmaster Television Show to be aired on ESPN2.

That prize will include coming to the Bassmaster Studio during the taping of the show with the 2007 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year and relaying to the world on ESPN2 how they figured out the winning formula.

"Fantasy Fishing has become a huge part of bass fishing,'' said Mike McKinnis, producer of the Bassmaster Television Show. "Everyone who works on the show plays it. So, we know how difficult it is to win that title.

"And we think it fitting that the winner gets a piece of the spotlight on the show."

Also, join Super 6 Pick'em (Super Six) where you can pick any six anglers and have a shot at more great prizes. Not sure how to play? It's simple: click here to find out. (Super Six - How To Play!)


Steve Bowman, Executive Editor, ESPNOutdoors.com
Scott Rook How can you not pick him? The venue is Lake Dardanelle, but that is still part of the Arkansas River. It will still fish in many ways like the original venue, which means Rook knows what's going on. He knows when the drops are productive, when the grass is productive and how the current impacts all of that. That's like leaps and bounds ahead of most of the field. He'll be in contention, no doubt.

Rick Clunn For years I never bet against Clunn on any river system. Look at his record — just in dingy water with current he's been nothing short of amazing, and two of his Classic victories have come on river systems, one of which was this river. In all that time, he taught all of us how to find drop-offs in river systems and how to make them work. I have to believe he'll know what's going on here within the first few hours of practice.

Gary Klein The dude has been so close so many times. He fared well here at the original Elite 50s. Like Clunn, he knows how to find them in a river system and he's always a factor when the water is shallow, dingy and flowing. Plus every year we have at least one old guy/legend win an event — Denny Brauer last year, for example. Of course, it's kind of funny to call Klein an old guy; he's certainly a legend and certainly more than capable.

Davy Hite He won here last time. And I watched him figure out the course better than anyone, which was no small feat, especially if you are familiar with the course. He's always been good at adapting to fisheries where good stringers can be caught, but only by 20 percent of the field. He's almost always in the 20 percent, plus he's probably loaded with confidence.

Jeff Kriet For the same reason I picked him at the Potomac. He promised me he was going to win one this season. He came close at Grand Lake, which in some ways can fish a lot like Dardanelle. Plus the Arkansas River is no stranger to him. And anyone with the gumption to buy two goats and name them Trip Weldon and Chuck Harbin (BASS tournament directors) deserves to win.

James Overstreet, ESPNOutdoors.com photojournalist
Mike Iaconelli Ike almost made the cut to fish the final day on the Potomac River. He should like the combination of grass and the Arkansas River.

Aaron Martens The Elite Series pros will come to the lake after it's received a ton of pressure from local anglers. The best finesse fisherman in the world will have a trick or two up his sleeve for those pressured bass.

Scott Rook Scott Rook has probably won more money on the Arkansas River than anybody in history.

Boyd Duckett Duckett has gotten on a bit of a late-season roll, and he's really proven his versatility this year. He'll be a good pick for you value shoppers out there.

Kevin VanDam He's probably not real happy right now, and that's bad news for the bass and his fellow Legends competitors.

Trey Reid, ESPNOutdoors.com Fantasy Fishing writer
Scott Rook It doesn't matter that the venue changed from Rook's home waters downstream in Little Rock. The heavy current that has been prevalent will make Dardanelle fish more like downstream reaches of the Arkansas River. Besides, Rook knows Dardanelle as well as anyone else in the field.

Mike McClelland He knows Dardanelle, and he always fishes well when he's close to home.

Greg Hackney He was second here in the 2004 Elite 50. It's a different time of year, but it's the same Arkansas River that Hackney learned to fish as a youngster.

Mike Iaconelli I like his track record at Dardanelle, and I think he may be able to put together a combination of power and finesse that will make him successful.

Skeet Reese Coming off the Potomac win and burning up the circuit this year, how can you go wrong with Skeet?