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Pundits' Picks — Elite Series #2

Ed. note: In advance of each Fantasy BASS Fishing event, a cast of Bassmaster and BASS Times editors and writers — as well as a few Tour insiders — will weigh-in with their picks for the forthcoming tournament. Here's our experts' thoughts on the second event of the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail on Texas' Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

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HOW IT WORKS — Our host of pundits come from varied sources and choose five anglers they believe will compete for the tournament title. Each pundit earns ten points for each of their anglers that makes the cut of 12 anglers and 20 points for picking the tournament winner. Scores are tallied after each tournament and carry over to the next, until one of them is crowned the champion at the end of the season. While pundits are not bound by the 50-point salary cap that you, as a BASS Fantasy Fishing manager, are, their thoughts and insights into the strengths of professional anglers and familiarity with the lakes being fished, as well as inside information gleaned from just doing their jobs, may help you select anglers to your roster.

LAST EVENT — With the first Elite Series event of the season on Lake Amistad, our Pundits's standngs shook-out a little bit. Moving to the top of the leaderboard was BASS INSIDER editor Craig Lamb. Lamb rode the power wave of Dean Rojas and the eventual "Battle on the Border" victor, Ish Monroe. Lamb brought his season total to 75, only 5 points ahead of ESPNOutdoors.com associate editor, Brian Lynn. Lynn had four anglers in the top 12 — Edwin Evers, Kevin VanDam, Gary Klein and Mike Reynolds — which garnered him 40 points. While Lamb and Lynn shot to the top of the standings, Bassmaster editor James Hall blanked with his picks and dropped into last place. However, a measley 40 points separates Hall from the top spot occupied by Lamb.

Individual picks:
Kernan | Zona | Reid | Hall | Stout | Clemons | Lynn | Lamb


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/general/i/P1_g_84x91_mug_Kernan.jpg " width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="Kernan">John Kernan
Co-host, BassCenter
Total pundit points: 40

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. — Won an Open event at Rayburn two years ago, so I figure he's a lock to be fishing on Sunday and that's what it's all about.

Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla. — Finished second at Rayburn last year in an Open event. Call it a hunch, but I have a funny little feeling that Jeff will be in the running until the last angler weighs in.

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — Two words, Lake Lewisville. He seemed to know what those Lone Star bass liked last year.

Aaron Martens, California/Alabama — I'll stay with the defending angler of the year until the cows come home.

Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J — The meltdown is history. Ike will be focused on finding and catching fish. I'm 95 percent certain he'll finish in the top ten.


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/general/i/P2_g_84x91_mug_Zona.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="Zona">Mark Zona
ESPNOutdoors television commentator
Total pundit points: 50

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. — This is the 1st time I've picked Edwin. The guy is just unbelievably consistent on this lake.

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — His history on this lake is huge. Kevin loves Texas and looking at the bank he's made in this state, it appears Texas loves Kevin eqauly as much.

Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. — The fish are going to be shallow, big and plentiful. I Look for the pitbull to be on fire all week.

Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas — Another guy with great stats on Rayburn. Plain and simple: He just knows too much about this lake to not pick him.

Zell Rowland, Montgomery, Texas — Come on! I have to have one local guy in my picks … I just hope he's the right one


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/general/i/P1_g_84x91_mug_Reid.jpg " width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="Reid">Trey Reid
Field reporter, BassCenter
Total pundit points: 40

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. — Double E has LIVED at the top of the leaderboard in Open events at Rayburn. Three top 10 finishes here in three years (2002-2004), including a win in '04. He'll be there on Sunday. Count on it.

Terry Butcher — He's the last Elite Series angler to strike a victory pose at Rayburn, hoisting the trophy for the 2005 Central Open. Watch out for this guy.

Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla. — Who finished second to Terry Butcher last season on Rayburn? Fellow Oklahoman Jeff Kriet, of course. And by the way, what's with all these Sooners storming across the Red River to win on Rayburn? Evers, Butcher and Kriet are all three from Oklahoma, and they've all hung some numbers on the Texas boys in their own backyard.

Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas — KJ will make the greatest stand for the state of Texas since the Alamo, This time, the enemy is from the north. He's just the fisherman to send a message to those dang Okies: "Not on our water!" Let the trash talk begin.

Mike McClelland, Bella Vista, Ark. — While the Sooners and Longhorns are fighting amongst themselves, McClelland will make a flank assault on Rayburn. He'll plant the flag for the great state of Arkansas, which obviously produces better anglers than either Texas or Oklahoma. Whooo, pig. Sooey!


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/general/i/P1_g_mug_PP_James_
Hall.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="lamb">James Hall
Editor, Bassmaster
Total pundit points: 35

An act of desperation … When you are in last place, the only way to make a move is to pick guys that are longshots or shoe-ins. Here are a couple of each:

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — Obviously, VanDam isn't going to place out of the Top 5 for the rest of his career, so I might as well jump on the Van-wagon.

Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas — My hometown choice, sort of. Since the California anglers seem to be dominating and the event is in Texas, I'm picking Klein for having the geographical mojo going for him.

Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. — My last gimme, the Hack Attack will probably be on everyone's short list, and for good reason. Rayburn is built for his style of fishing, and he's catching 'em as good as anyone right now.

Takahiro Omori, Emory, Texas — I'll be shocked if anyone picks Tak, other than me. But he has won here before and has a tendency to pull out front when he's not in the spotlight.

Mike McClelland, Bella Vista, Ark. — A sentimental pick, this may be the nicest guy fishing the Elite Series. I am willing him to a Top 6 finish, even though he doesn't need my help. This guy is a good stick and doesn't command a ton of fantasy points.



src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/i/colmug_bassboat
ing_ls.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="stout">Louie Stout
Senior Writer, Bassmaster
Total pundit points: 60

Kelly Jordon, Mineola, Texas — He finished second at Rayburn in a March, 2001 event.

Takahiro Omori, Emory, Tex. — A former winner and frequent high finisher here.

Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas — A former winner on Rayburn and a guy with a lot of confidence on this lake.

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. — One of the top up-and-comers on the circuit who had a good showing at Amistad.

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — No comment required. He is the man.


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/i/P1_b_mug_Clemons_Jan24_05.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="Clemons">Alan Clemons
Outdoors Editor
The Huntsville (Ala.) Times

Total pundit points: 55

Denny Brauer, Camdenton, Mo. — Gets into the swing of things with a good showing.

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — Continues his Texas Two-Step on one of the best-known lakes in the nation.

Takahiro Omori, Emory, Tex. — Just can't shake the feeling this guy is going to do something good.

Michael Iaconelli, Runnemede, N.J — Mount Ike recovers from his Classic explosion.

Gerald Swindle, Hayden, Ala. — Goes junk fishing to pick up another piece of hardware for his trophy case.


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/i/P1_b_mug_PP_Bri
an_Lynn.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left"
alt="lynn">Brian Lynn
Associate Editor, ESPNOutdoors.com
Total pundit points: 70

After a good showing on Lake Amistad, I'm right in the mix of things. The theory here? Just make strong picks and select a few dark horses that can put me up and give me a lead. I'll be keeping a few anglers from the Classic and Amistad, as well as a the fantasy-roster mainstay.

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — He's the fanatasy-roster mainstay. You don't bench Michael Jordan, you don't beach KVD. It's unbelievable how scorching hot he has been the last few tournaments … meaning the last couple of years!

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. — See my comments prior to Amistad … see Evers historical performance on Sam Rayburn. 'Nuff said. (However, if you listen to me last week and selected Evers, you're ahead of the game and have other teams in your league playing catch-up because he'll be a popular pick this week — after they missed out on Amistad's points, and now they will have to pay a higher price for the man and because you'll retain him this week, you've nullified their selection anyway. Stick with me boys and girls, I'll have you wearing a championship ring with diamonds the size of horse turds.)

Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas — I gave the veteran a chance to make-up for his performance on Toho, and he came through. We're still in Texas … I'm sticking with him, for at least one more week.

Mike McClelland, Bella Vista, Ark. — McClelland has fished Rayburn quite often in the last 5 years. However, his placement is all over the board: 32 in '01, 21 in '02, 32 in '03, and a forgetful 40th-place finish in '05. So why should you take him? In 2005 he also took 7th place in a tournament on Rayburn and he hung tough at Amistad last week taking 17th. He'll be hit or miss.

Terry Butcher, Talala, Okla. — Here's your sleeper, under-the-radar, left-hook pick that nobody will see coming. He's more than a dark horse, less than a big gun. Butcher is the sneaky pick for the tournament … and perhaps the year. Why? He has a 4.4 salary. He finished 26th at Amistad — placing higher than names like Reese, Jordon and Martens. And, in May of 2005 Butcher took first place at a Central Open on Rayburn.


src="http://www.espn.com/winnercomm/outdoors/bassmaster/i/P1_b_mug_Craig2
.jpg" width="84" height="91" border="0" align="left" alt="lamb">Craig Lamb
Editor, BASS INSIDER
Total pundit points: 75

Gary Klein, Weatherford, Texas — He finished 6th in the CITGO Bassmaster Southern Tour held just two weeks ago. Not only that, in checking his tournament resume, Klein has a history of excelling in springtime events held anywhere in the nation. Beyond a doubt, Klein shows the potential of getting on a hot streak after last week's showing at the "Battle on the Border."

Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich. — KVD said he had to "slow down" his presentation at Amistad. He'll have the chance to go unleashed at Rayburn, where the bite will be all over the place. It's a perfect setup for a classic KVD showing, not to mention his great finish at Amistad.

Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla. — He's another angler on a hot streak and has won a BASS event here in the not so recent past. A strong finish last week and previously at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic has him on the launch pad to grab a win.

Alton Jones, Waco, Texas — Ditto with the strong finish at Amistad. Beside Klein, he's my other "local" favorite from the Lone Star State to do well at Rayburn.

Greg Hackney, Gonzales, La. — Another angler on a roll. And also a guy with a knack for pinning down bass during all phases of the spawn. They can run but they can't hide from the Hack Attack.