2012 Bassmaster Classic Pundit Picks
We took a ride out to the Red River this morning to see the conditions for ourselves and visit with the pros briefly before they went through the dry-run of their day one launch as they went out on the Red River for one finally reconnaissance mission before the big event starts on Friday.
The water on the Red River appears dirty but not full on “chocolate milk.” But definitely a lot cloudier water clarity than we saw here three years ago. The wind was starting to kick up and blew some light spitting rain around this morning. The wind is figured to increase all day until the front blows through late tomorrow afternoon. It could make running around today a bit rough for the competitors.
Lots of flipping baits on the decks of the boats as suspected. Crankbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, frogs and a host of other baits adorned the decks of various pros today. No one pattern seems to be dominating yet but rather just a lot of the multiple rods junk fishing today. Having lots of baits on the deck is just a matter of honing in on what a productive pattern should be come Friday. It’s way too early for anyone to say what’s going to happen.
In fact many of the pros said, they think a lot of what they’ve learned thus far is going to go out the window the next few days because the Red River is expected to warm up and that could put the bass on the move to shallower water. So a lot of scouting today will be where they think the bass are headed to Friday. Those pros that excel at adapting during an event and fishing the moment not the memory are going to be factors.
We certainly aren’t hiding any crystal ball that is telling us who is going to win. But part of the fun in sports is always forecasting who you think will do well. The March Madness that is college basketball isn’t nearly as fun as when you watch it with a bracket filled out hoping your prognostication will allow you to puff your chest out a little in front of your buddies.
So we took our best effort at throwing out some educated opinions on who we think could do well in a tournament we suspect could be the test of a lot angler’s patience, mental fortitude and pure gut instinct.
1. Ott Defoe - Defoe is a river rat who can take the spectators out of the mix if he digs deep into an oxbow or jumps a levee. With rising water levels, he gets even tougher. Really like how he prepares and his knowledge of rivers puts him near the top of the leader board in events that are grinder style tournaments.
2. Kevin VanDam - Even though he had a tough time the last time the Classic was held on the Red, he had the game plan that could have paid off. Spectator traffic could be an issue for Kevin, but he has managed that before. You can never count him out in this big event.
3. Bill Lowen - Lowen is another river rat that can grind out a limit in a mud puddle. Tough conditions and rising water puts him right where he likes it. If he can catch a limit in the Ohio River consistently, the Red will be a party for him. He is due for a breakout and this could be the tournament that solidifies his career and starts the break out season for Lowen.
1. Jeff Kriet – Kriet gets extremely focused and wants to close one of these out after being so close two years ago and letting it slip away in the waning minutes. Even though he gets labeled as an offshore dragger of sorts, Kriet is a great shallow water angler He should excel in the clearer backwater areas with his combination of power and finesse.
2. Michael Iaconelli – Always a threat in the Classic.Heck he’s a threat in every tournament he fishes. His explosiveness is not just for the cameras, it comes through in his fishing and how he’s able to quickly break down hundreds of miles of a fishery into winning areas of fish and then proceeds to catch them. He’s good at going against the grain and in grinder tournaments, that sometimes is the winning recipe. We liked Ike last time B.A.S.S. was on the Red River and we like him again here.
3. Dean Rojas – My gut says it’s his time. There is something about visualizing his kermit skipping up under laydowns and walking back out, producing vicious strikes in the process. Kermit might not play well here given the cold waters, but I just have a feeling about Rojas in this one. I think his shallow water prowess and his ability to literally sneak up on the bass makes him a tough competitor in the many backwater areas of the Red River.
1. Keith Combs – I’ve followed Keith ever since he started fishing professionally. And one thing I’ve noticed is when the fishing tournaments go to tough fisheries or the bite just seems to be a little bit off, he’s one of the guys that catches them better than everyone else. He’s put in his time here, even though he’s not a local. I just have a feeling he’s going to find that subtle difference here off the beaten path that has led him to victories in the past in other tough tournaments.
2. Edwin Evers – Evers has been on a roll the last few seasons. He’s always up around the top of the leader board, regardless of what tournament or circuit it is he fishes. He just seems to be making all the right decisions the last couple of years. Decision making is such a critical component of professional fishing and he’s really made all the right decisions it seems the last couple of years. I like Evers to continue his hot streak with sound judgement. He can flat pick apart shallow cover and he will be in the hunt come the final day.
3. Todd Faircloth – The old adage in professional bass fishing is you have to keep putting yourself in contention to win and eventually the pieces fall into place and you do win. Faircloth is quietly the model of consistency and the fact that he always seems to be in the hunt yet off everyone’s radar screens, has us thinking he’s going to be a threat here. We look for his consistent finish to turn into a huge finish in one of the sport’s biggest platforms.
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