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Fantasy: Bassmaster American Outlook

The first limited-field event of 2007 takes place this week — the Bassmaster American on High Rock Lake near Greensboro, N.C.

With its $250,000 winner's check, the American represents the first "big-time" event since the Bassmaster Classic. And it's fitting that it will be held on High Rock Lake, a fishery that has a history of playing host to big-time BASS events.

The highest level BASS professionals have visited High Rock Lake three times, and each time it has been for the sport's premiere event, the Bassmaster Classic.

Throw in the fact that only the best of the best will compete in the 51-man field this week, and it stands to reason that the American will be an event where the big names should dominate.

You could look at last year's Majors and argue to the contrary. While Peter Thliveros, Dave Wolak and Scott Rook (the winners of last year's Majors) are well-known among a lot of fishing fans, they just don't have the name recognition of anglers such as Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli.

But I have a feeling the American will turn out like a who's who of professional bass fishing.

With the fantasy fishing player in mind, here's an overview of some of the names to consider this week.

Kevin VanDam is probably the most well-known name in the sport, and there's a reason for that. If he isn't on your team for this week's Major, you're making a mistake. Professional fishing can be a game of momentum, and although KVD always seems to have it, he's coming off a big victory at Guntersville.

If that isn't enough reason to play KVD, look at his record in these specialty events. He was runner-up in the 2006 Bassmaster American and 11th in the 2006 Legends. And who can forget the way he dominated the old Elite 50 events (precursors to the Majors) — He won two in a row in 2005 before extending his victory streak to three by winning the tough 2005 Classic in Pittsburgh.

Tommy Biffle hasn't exactly been tearing it up this season, but High Rock plays to his strengths. I hesitate to say he's in a slump this season, but regardless, he's due to have a breakout tournament. High Rock is probably best known as the place where Bryan Kerchal became the first Federation Nation angler to win the Classic in 1994. But don't forget that Biffle finished second in '94, just ounces behind Kerchal.

Jason Quinn narrowly missed an opportunity to win on his home lake during last year's American on Lake Wylie. He's not as familiar with High Rock as he is with Wylie — a fishery where Quinn guided for many years — but Quinn has a knack for performing well in front of the home fans. He's also coming off a fifth-place finish at Guntersville.

Mark Tucker isn't exactly a household name, but the Missouri pro is a consistent angler who, for whatever reason, hasn't been able to post the big win just yet. He has come close, though. Just two weeks ago, he was edged by VanDam at Guntersville. And guess who finished eighth in the 1998 Classic at High Rock — that's right, Mark Tucker. Could this week be his breakout victory?

Jeff Kriet is an angler who always seems to be in the top portion of the standings, but I like him this week because he's an angler who'd rather back off the banks and fish deep structure. Doing something slightly different could be the ticket this week, and Kriet is a guy who won't hesitate to do just that.

All would be good choices for the Super Six Pick 'Em as well.