HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. The 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series tour begins its ninth event of the 11-tournament season Thursday with the Tennessee Triumph presented by Longhorn.
Old Hickory Lake's 22,500 acres impounded on the Cumberland River will be where the 107 Elites Series anglers compete for the $100,000 first-place check.
The Tennessee Triumph appears to be wide open, with no angler in particular having an advantage, because bass are equally scattered both shallow and deep. Also the 14-inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass is going to be an obstacle here, where bass under 14 inches are much more abundant than those over the minimum.
The field will be cut to the top 50 after Friday's weigh-in and the top 12 after Saturday. The 6 a.m. CT take-offs and 2:30 p.m. CT weigh-ins will be held at Sanders Ferry Park.
Twelve pros were asked to pick the three most likely winners this week.
1. Aaron Martens He'll still be able to find fish deep.
2. Kelly Jordon He's another guy that can find them deep.
3. Denny Brauer There's still a shallow bite. Chad (Brauer, Denny's son) won a (BASS) tournament here. It might take a combination of deep and shallow to win.
1. Rick Clunn He knows how to catch little fish when conditions are tough. He did it back when you had to do that to do well. And that's what it may take to win here.
2. Greg Hackney He caught 27 pounds, 14 ounces in one day in an FLW tournament (in 2004) here. He'll forever be a stud in my book because of that. Forever.
3. Aaron Martens Because he's squirrelly enough to find some way to catch them deep.
1. Kevin VanDam He's the hottest man here, no doubt.
2. Paul Elias I've fished a few benefit tournaments over here, and Paul has always done well in them.
3. Marty Stone Shallow or deep, he'll catch them.
1. Stephen Browning He likes to throw a (Carolina) rig.
2. Todd Faircloth Because he's hot as a firecracker.
3. Mike McClelland He's going to make sure he stays in the Angler of the Year race.
1. Jeff Kriet I know how he's catching them and where he's catching them.
2. Stephen Browning Because this tournament might be won by someone who just puts their trolling motor down and goes fishing, and he's as good at that as anybody.
3. Jared Lintner I think this is going to be more of a shallow water deal than an offshore deal.
1. Edwin Evers Because we're staying in the same campground, and he's been gone (practicing) before daylight and hasn't come back until after dark. He's putting in the work it takes to win.
2. Kelly Jordon He's one of the best offshore structure fishermen in the business. I've seen him out on ledges all day in practice.
3. Mike McClelland Because he's tired of hearing "KVD."
1. Kevin VanDam
2. Timmy Horton
3. Rick Clunn That's the order they finished in the last tournament, and this one is going to be won fishing ledges, just like the last one.
1. Timmy Horton He just likes this kind of fishing.
2. Jason Quinn Because I saw him jump a 6-pounder the other day, and a fish like that will go a long way in this tournament.
3. Chris Lane It seems like he's getting some of the better bites.
1. Skeet Reese Hhe's fishing where I'm fishing, and we're both catching them.
2. John Murray The way he fishes, he'll do well here. It's tough. He'll figure out how to catch them offshore.
3. Kevin Short He's fishing docks, and that could win here.
1. Takahiro Omori He's due.
2. Mike McClelland He's hot, and the fish are in his zone.
3. Gary Klein He's due, and the fish are really structure-oriented now, which is his strength.
1. Steve Kennedy Because he practiced about three hours all week.
2. Kevin VanDam There shouldn't have to be a reason why.
3. Terry Butcher He's on a little roll and the upper river here suits his style.
1. Denny Brauer Because this could be won flipping.
2. Ish Monroe He can catch 10 or 12 pounds a day when the chips are down.
3. Kevin VanDam Just because he won the last tournament, not because he's good.
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Tennessee Triumph with weigh-in host Keith Alan, June 26-29, 2008. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 3:30 p.m. ET. On Saturday, catch "Bassmaster University" at 3:00 p.m. ET before the weigh-in. Then on Sunday, get "Hooked Up" with hosts Tommy Sanders and Mark Zona at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. ET, with the final day weigh-in and real-time leaderboard content starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.