Classic predictions

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We surveyed several fans who will be closely watching the Bassmaster Classic asking them to send us their predictions for who would finish in the Top 3. We ask them to rank them 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Then we assigned point values to each rank -- 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd and 1 point for 3rd to come up with our own informal Bassmaster Classic Predictions Ranking System.

(Jump to picks from 2/10, 2/11, 2/12, 2/13, 2/14)

Here are the final rankings:

How they picked:

Bobby Knight - Basketball Analyst, ESPN
First: Swindle

Second: Duckett

Third: Iaconelli

Coach Bobby Knight said that he knew all three of his picks and that he would be having a conversation with them before the competition begins. He's convinced that after he gets through with them...,they will all finish at the top.

Chad Morgenthaler - President, Professional Anglers Association
First: Hackney - Greg has spent hundreds of hours on the Delta becoming familiar with everything that it has to offer. He is also an angler that is able to adjust very quickly to changing conditions. Combine these strengths with the opportunity to compete on his home water and it is a winning combination.

Second: Pace - Cliff has grown-up fishing waters like the Delta and is a very versatile angler. He has also been fishing very well over the last several years and is due for a win.

Third: Snowden - Although he is not from the south, he is possibly one of the most thorough and patient anglers on the circuit today. This tournament, in certain areas, will be a challenge of the most persistent. Brian will excel in this area.

Bobby Cleveland - Outdoor Editor, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, MS
First: Pace - This is what Cliff grew up fishing. He has a special ability of picking apart the right waters and he is even better in a Bayou setting.

Second: Hackney - Greg seems to be able figure it all out and put together a winning plan. He is the local favorite.

Third: Klein - It just might be the event where Gary places the exclamation point on a great career.

Todd Masson, Editor, Louisiana Sportsman

First: VanDam - It's almost a cliche' to pick VanDam, but how can you not? The guy is inarguably one of the greatest anglers in history, and the Louisiana Delta is perfectly suited to his style. In 2001, he said he "fished slow very fast" to take the Classic title on these same waters. The same lures he used then -- a jig and a creature bait -- ought to be very effective this time of year.

Second: Hackney - In addition to being, statistically, one of the best anglers on the tour, Hackney knows these waters better than his neighborhood. Sometimes that can be a hindrance, but Hackney was catching fat spawners last winter in this area before any of the locals. The shallow delta also perfectly suits his style of fishing.

Third: Rook - Rook always fishes well here, including his second-place finish in the 2001 Classic when he missed the title by just over a pound. He loves to pitch and flip, and with the warm temperatures anticipated for this weekend, there's no doubt the biggest of the bass will move up to shallow water.

Results from 2/14:

How they picked:

Roy Hallady - Pitcher, Philadelphia Phillies
First: Reese

Second: VanDam

Third: Biffle

*When Halladay pitched a perfect game last year against the Florida Marlins, the Phillies wanted to commemorate the occasion by giving Halladay a gift. Because Halladay's favorite hobby is bass fishing, the Phillies contacted BASS and set up a trip for the pitcher to go fishing with Reese, the 2007 Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year and 2009 Bassmaster Classic champion. Halladay continues to be a B.A.S.S. fan and his Classic predictions show that he is a student of the game.

Mike Haggerty - Bass2point0.com
First: Hackney - He's been on or around the delta since 1997. He knows this place, he has made it his home. Greg is an extremely versatile angler and he will need to bring that skill set fully to bear to pull off a win. I'm confident he can.

Second: VanDam - Hard, impossible really, to ignore this guy's hardware. We all know this man can win anywhere, anytime so really just a note, if weather makes conditions tough tough, you got to like KVD. His wheelhouse exists in everyone else's 'grey area'.

Third: Pace - I hope he goes to the Delacroix area. Cliff calls Petal MS home but a lot of his career was spent on the delta. Delacroix is a wildcard and an area Cliff knows well. Will there be issues getting there, back? One thing is for sure, there will be less pressure there, and maybe the quality factor gets bumped up a notch as well. Some will say there are only 50 boats in the entire delta, that's not 'real' pressure but I still believe managing your fish will be less of an issue there than in some of
the closer areas and venues like this one can fish really small despite their geographic vastness. Delacroix presents a total question mark, who knows it best, Cliff Pace. Cliff will be the first to tell you the LA delta is his favorite place to fish. If you love where you're fishing, it's an advantage mentally,

David Hagood - American Bass Anglers
First: Pace - This is what Cliff grew up fishing. Hhe has a special ability of picking apart the right waters and he is even better in a Bayou setting.

Second: Hackney - Greg seems to be able figure it all out and put together a winning plan. He is the local favorite.

Third: Klein - It just might be the event where Gary places the exclamation point on a great career.

Alan Clemons - The Birmingham News
First: Biffle - When pros think deep, Biffle can be found shallow because "deep" to him is churning mud and plowing vegetation. He'll be right at home this week on the Delta with his Biffle Bug or punching grass with a craw. Two runner-up finishes in the Classic, albeit years ago, put him close enough to the title to burn a lasting impression. His will to win runs deep and I wouldn't count him out of the mix.

Second: Herren - This veteran pro has a mindset this week of "win or go home." That's cliche for the Classic, of course, but it's very true. Herren knows this and isn't planning to settle for anything less. He's experienced and comfortable with pre-spawn bass, figuring out where they are and then adapting to put them in the boat. Don't listen to his poor-mouthing ... he can blow smoke with the best of them. If he's among the leaders on the first day, watch out.

Third: Wirth - Where did this pick come from, you're asking? Just a gut instinct about a guy with years of experience and an unflappable attitude on the water. Wirth's no stranger to tough events and isn't intimidated by any field or venue. After winning his first Elite Series title, at Old Hickory in 2008, that put him over the "gotta win the first one" hump. He has five Top 10 Classic finishes in the last 13 championships, so he knows what it takes to make it to the final day. This year he could be the last man standing.

Results from 2/13:

How they picked:

Ryan Newman, NASCAR driver
First: VanDam - a very good friend and proven Classic winner

Second: Biffle - Shallow water expert

Third: Faircoth - Another shallow water expert

Scotty Bud Melvin - WZUU, Kalamazoo Michigan
First: VanDam - I have to pick him first, or I'm an idiot. (My fishing partner rigs his boats)

Second: Hackney - I'm thinking (and hoping) he can do well there.Would be a good story.

Third: Swindle - He's on a roll

James Overstreet - B.A.S.S. photographer
First: Klein - A pick based on history, not a sentimental pick for the guy that's fished more Classics than anybody without a win. Klein has two top-five finishes in New Orleans Classics he's fished, and may have won there had it not been for previous distractions in the form of airboats and gunfire. Left alone to fish with a flipping stick in his hands, Klein can finally win his first Bassmaster Classic.

Second: Pace - Since joining the Elite Series as a rookie, Pace has never appeared intimidated fishing against the best in the world. He's put together eight top-five finishes since joining the tour, and immediately proved he belonged with a 2nd place finish in his first Classic appearance in 2008. The quite Mississippian is a fierce contender on the water, his mental approach rock solid. It doesn't hurt that he's one of the best jig fishermen on the planet, and will be fishing in familiar water.

Third: Lane - I guess many would consider this a dark horse pick, but miles and miles of shoreline vegetation and shallow water just seem to fit Bobby Lane. That, and since his rookie season, I've thought Lane had the potential to be the 'next big thing'. More than capable of winning on the biggest of stages, Lane's legacy in the tournament-fishing world could be nailed down after New Orleans.

Eddie Plemons - President, Alabama B.A.S.S. Federation Nation
First: Reese - With ten Alabama based Classic contenders, picking a top three becomes a challenge between my heart and my brain. My heart says go BAMA, but my head says that a seasoned pro will come out on top. I say this year's BMC will be won by a west coast angler throwing shallow crank baits with yellow rods.

Second: Crain - My heart tells me that Alabama B.A.S.S. Federation Nation contender George Crain has the knowledge and know-how to be there in the end. He is a pro with a jig and can throw a crank bait with the best of them. My only worry is George getting caught up in the hoopla that makes the Classic classic!

Third: Hackney - My third and final choice is hard to argue with. He is a likeable local boy. Greg Hackney is all too familiar with Louisiana waters. He has been close before -- 2011 may be the year The Hack Attack prevails.

Results from 2/12:

How they picked:

Judge Reinhold, Actor (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Beverly Hills Cop, The Santa Clause)

First: Kevin VanDam - because he's the best fisherman in the world and I love all his martial arts movies

Second: Morizo Shimizu - I like him because people always sound drunk when they say his name

Third: Scott Rook - Great guy - great fisherman -- one nation under Hog!

Miles "Sonar" Burghoff, Bassfan.com

First: Reese - No one can argue that Skeet Reese is at the top of his game- and he has game!! However, I am not picking Skeet just because he is red-hot right now, but because I think this event held on the Louisiana Delta is a venue that will highlight his strengths. Skeet cut his teeth on the California Delta, which although very different from its Cajun counterpart, is still a very dynamic fishery that requires one to excel in a tough shallow water bite, while having knowledge of how tides affect bass behavior. Throw in his prowess with shallow reaction baits, as well as flipping heavy cover, and to me he is the obvious pick for this Classic.

Second: Palaniuk - I'm not just picking Brandon because we are both part of Team Topwater Clothing but rather because I believe he will have a major run for the title. Brandon has already proven that he is a tough competitor in championship events. He also proved that he is a great shallow water competitor as well, and I believe that the same techniques that he employed at the Red River (shallow cranking & flipping) will be strong in this event. Brandon has the drive and the determination, and I think his stamina will take him a long way when it comes to finding out-of-the-way tournament sweet spots on this huge body of water.

Third: Hackney - Whenever I hear C.C.R.'s song "Born on the Bayou" I think of Hackney. The dude knows how to fish this sort of water. If he doesn't make a run for the win in this event, I will be very surprised.

Kevin Gaubert, President, Louisiana B.A.S.S. Federation Nation

First: Klein - He really knows how to pick the Louisiana Delta apart. He's been here several times before and a serious threat. I think he's long overdue and surely one of the best.

Second: Van Dam - Everywhere he goes he's a threat. He too has been here several times and won. He can adapt very easily to the Louisiana Delta.

Third: Hackney - The Hack Attack! I would love to see a local angler win in his home state, in his home waters. Greg is at home on these waters and knows it very well. I just hope the "home field advantage" doesn't jinx him.

Mike Cusano, President, New York B.A.S.S. Federation Nation

I think this year's Classic is really more wide open in terms of the number of anglers that could possibly win. There are many different ways fans could go in picking who they think will do well: we can take the "experience" factor looking at anglers who have consistently done well or won there in the past; we can pick by looking at an anglers particular fishing strengths and how they match up to a body of water, and because we are fans we can always be fanatical and pick with our hearts.

First: Klein - he has had some great finishes at the Delta, is a versatile angler who is a master of the flipping technique, and I don't know who could be a bigger sentimental favorite to win the Classic. Who doesn't like Gary Klein -- he's a class act and the man is due!

Second: VanDam - I guess I have to follow what is now becoming "the rule" in bass tournaments and pick KVD. He is flat out a fish catching machine and in my opinion the greatest angler this sport has seen. I can see him as my 1-A pick.

Third: Palaniuk - With one pick left, as much as I want my brain to rule the heart, I have to go with one of my Federation Nation brothers and Red River Federation Nation Champion, Brandon Palaniuk. The Federation Nation is due for another Bryan Kerchal moment -- I can't think of anything that was more inspiring to the local angler than to see someone at their level get the chance to compete and then win the Bassmaster's Classic. Just doesn't get any bigger.

Results from 2/11:

Also receiving votes: Biffle (2), Swindle (2), Tharp (1)

How they picked:

Mike Golic
Host of ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning

First: Kevin VanDam

Second: Skeet Reese

Third: Hackney

*Mike Golic has attended several Bassmaster Classics in the past and still keeps up with B.A.S.S. competition. He told us he was picking the Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning of bass fishing.

Tommy Sanders
Bassmaster Classic Television Host

First: Kevin Van Dam -- As everyone knows, this Classic will be about who can find a pile of fish and exploit them for 3 days. Last time I checked, he's the best at doing that.

Second: As everyone knows, no one remembers who finished second at the Classic. I can't even remember my second place pick.

Third: I just remembered who finished second at the last New Orleans Classic: Gary Klein. I wouldn't mind seeing him win, but if not maybe third would be better than the dreaded second place. Ditto for Aaron Martens and Tommy Biffle.

Craig Hanson
"Outdoors with Craig Hanson" KNBR-1050 San Francisco

First: Picking a Classic winner is like forecasting the winner of the Masters golf tournament. You've got to go with the participants who have been there and done it before. I know it's clich├ę, but if there's money on the table it's hard not to go with the Jack Nicklaus of bass angling, three-time Classic winner Kevin VanDam to take home the top prize.

Second: I've got to go with one of the hottest sticks on the circuit, and fellow left coaster Skeet Reese. Two-time Angler of the Year, and 2009 Classic winner, Reese is always in the mix. His experience with the tidal flows of the California Delta may work to his advantage in Louisiana.

Third: Skewing local is usually a safe bet, that's why Louisiana resident Greg Hackney has a legitimate shot at a top three finish. The eight-time Classic participate has been a top 10 finisher on the BASS circuit 31 times, and there's no reason to think this can not be his tournament.

Dave Mercer
B.A.S.S. Announcer

They three pros I've picked have nerves of steel and that's what it takes to win this derby ... plus they're pretty damn good.

First: Gary Klein -- There are two reasons that I'm thinking it's Klein's time. He has proven to have a knack for finding fish on the Delta and after 29 attempts you really just want him to do it. But most importantly (to nobody else in the world but me) is the fact that if he wins the first classic I emcee, then somehow I can claim that me being there had something to do with Klein's victory.

Second: Gerald Swindle -- I really think that G's recent win on Lake Toho will give him a newfound confidence, unleashing a whole new Swindle on the tour. The Elite anglers better look out - there is a new shark in the tank and now he knows how good victory tastes.

Gerald prides himself on being a junk fisherman and having many different tricks in his bag may just be what he needs to find success in this year's classic with the potential of wacky weather. To be honest, I really wanted to pick Gerald for the win but I just did not have the heart to give Gary Klein 2nd.

Third: Greg Hackney -- I have about 10 anglers that I want to make my final pick. So I decided to go with the one angler I just felt there is no way I can leave out. Everyone has to have Hackney on their list somewhere. He is a proven winner that does not crack under the pressure and with the exception of Cliff Pace no other angler knows the Delta like him. With the possibility of some up and down weather, I really think his knowledge of the water will give him a huge advantage. The more the weather messes with the fish, the more this classic will play into his hands. He knows where the fish live so while bad weather may have other pros fishing over them without a bite. Hackney will have to confidence to slow down and get the job done.

Results from 2/10:

Also receiving votes: VanDam (1), Hackney (1), Tharp (1)

How they picked:

Russ "Bassdozer" Comeau

First: Jeff Kriet from Ardmore, Okla., is familiar with how the fish follow the seasons within this region of the country. Kriet also came in second last year in the Classic, and he's had that bitter taste in his mouth all year long. Now's the time for him to sink his teeth into the prize he's been longing for all year! If there's a shallow bite, he'll be right at home (as will Edwin Evers).

Second: Edwin Evers of Tulala, Okla., has had another very solid year. He's been near the top of the AOY standings a few times before, and in 2010, finished second in the AOY race. So what's a fellow to do if he's runner-up on the AOY title? Why, the next step is to simply win the Classic of course! Evers came in second but will, as they say, try harder to win the Classic. Also being from Oklahoma, he's more in tune with the seasons and fish habits this time of year than guys from outside the region, and that's got to count for something.

Third: Greg Hackney's from Louisiana, and the Delta's custom-made for Hackney's power fishing and flipping style.

Terry Brown

First: Klein -- This pick is gut instinct. I want to "will" Klein to win. He's everything we want to see in our sport. I practiced with him when he won second at the Classic and really want to see him take home the trophy this year.

Second: Pace -- Local knowledge and how well he knows the water. He's had great finishes on this fishery and I think he will be a force to reckon with.

Third: Tharp -- With this pick, I'm thinking momentum. Tharp is fishing very well lately, and finishing at the top. He just had a second at Okeechobee with 102 pounds. He finished the 2010 season well and he's already come out of the gate strong this year. The Louisiana Delta will play to his strengths. Plus, he's a flipper and pitcher.

Mark Zona
Bassmaster Classic Television Host

They three pros I've picked have nerves of steel and that's what it takes to win this derby ... plus they're pretty damn good.

First: Scott Rook - simply put, he's one of the best river fisherman on planet. Also, not a headcase.

Second: Edwin Evers - won a BASS open here last year and no doubt he's on a roll. Again, not a headcase.

Third: Cliff Pace - I've noticed this has turned into a "homer" pick, but to me he's a threat here and everywhere he fishes right now. Note: not a headcase

Wes Miller
B.A.S.S. Videographer

First: Ike - He has won here in the past, will be hungry for a repeat, and the Mississippi River delta will play into his style of fishing. With a brand new baby boy he will really want to make this one count ... what better way to celebrate a new child than with a Classic victory.

Second: Tommy Biffle - He has been to the big show many times before and this could easily be a jig fishing tourney. And, we all know he is one of the best at that with wins to prove it.

Third: KVD - You must always put him in any picks to win any tournament. Also, I'm not covering him on the first day so he won't have the Mueller curse to limit his catch.