The Western Swing is in the books. So what can fantasy fishing managers take away from last week's record-breaking tournament at Clear Lake?
The first lesson to learn from Clear Lake is this: When the Elite Series anglers catch fish like they did on Clear Lake, you can throw conventional wisdom out the window.
It's anybody's game when a slugfest ensues, a point driven home by Steve Kennedy's record-breaking victory. Where was Kennedy on Day One? Too far down the leaderboard for anyone to notice. But he came back from nowhere, not only winning the derby but setting a BASS record in the process.
It can go the other way, too. Jason Williamson and Ish Monroe looked like the best bets to challenge first-day leader Greg Gutierrez. But neither angler qualified for Sunday's final round. Monroe's lapse can be explained by a serious stumble on Day Three. But in Williamson's case, you can't exactly say he fell apart out there.
What does this mean for the fantasy manager? Not much, really. All it really means is that it's a crapshoot when the stars line up like they did at Clear Lake, and we should all take solace in the fact that any given angler in our fantasy lineups could've been the one to pull a 40-pound bag and come out on top.
Don't take anything away from Steve Kennedy he earned the victory with the best performance in BASS history. But it's nearly impossible to handicap an event like Clear Lake.
Another lesson from Clear Lake is that Steve Kennedy is a force to be reckoned with, and that isn't likely to change the remainder of the season. If it wasn't for a lackluster 61st-place finish at the California Delta two weeks ago, he'd be even higher than fourth place in the Angler of the Year race. He was eighth in the Bassmaster Classic (not a factor in Angler of the Year points), third at Amistad and the winner last week at Clear Lake.
This comes on the heels of an outstanding rookie campaign in which he claimed Rookie of the Year honors while seriously challenging Mike Iaconelli in the 2006 Angler of the Year race.
He has fished extremely well on foreign (Western) waters, using unfamiliar swimbait tactics. And now he returns to fisheries that play more to his strengths. It could mean trouble for the rest of the field.
And by the way, you can still pick him up at a reasonable price.
Skeet Reese is another angler to watch. While everyone expected him to perform well on the Western Swing, his entire 2007 campaign has been phenomenal. He's the current leader in Angler of the Year points, and you know his confidence has never been higher. Like Spinal Tap's amplifiers, Reese's confidence level goes to 11.
I will be surprised if he doesn't win an event very soon.
Home water jinx is bogus
Much has been made of pro anglers not being able to perform on their home waters, but you shouldn't buy into it. The Western Swing proved that home water can be most productive.
Play hometown favorites. They may not win, but many will come close enough to earn your team valuable points.
I went out on limb last week and suggested a possible play on rookie Derek Remitz. I wasn't alone he was almost a consensus pick among our panel of experts from Pundits' Picks.
But this week, Remitz looked more like the rookie that he is instead of the phenom that he appeared to be the first two weeks of the regular season.
Regardless, I still say he's a solid play in the future. If you can find an angler with a similar point value who's a better play, please let me know about it.