With Guntersville’s abundant grass beds, the tournament is shaping up to be a lipless crankbait and jerkbait event. With that in mind, you can’t exclude Kevin VanDam from any discussion of possible winners. For that matter, you can’t exclude him from that discussion any time he sets foot on the water, but he’s one of the best in the world with those two baits, so expect him to contend (AS USUSAL)!
Another angler who always seems to find his way into the Classic Winner discussion is Aaron Martens. Although he’s failed to seal the deal numerous times, he’s always in the hunt and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him make another run at it this year. The real question, for me at least, is what off the wall, oddball finesse technique will he use to do it. Even in a power fishing slugfest like this is shaping up to be, Martens always seems to find a group of fish to suit his style of fishing, so look for him to contend. Besides that, I’ve got to pull for a fellow Phoenix Boat pro and you can’t ever count out the reining Angler of the Year.
For my third pick, I’m going to have to choose Chris Lane. The 2012 Classic winner moved to Guntersville several years ago and he knows the lake and should have a good idea of where they’ll be and how to catch them. Also, growing up in Florida makes him an obvious choice for any grass rich lake. Guntersville, at least at this time of the year, fishes a lot like the lakes Lane grew up fishing. Even if he doesn’t win, he should be on your fantasy team.
Randall Tharp is next on the list. He’s a proven winner, on both the B.A.S.S. and FLW side and of the newer guys on the Elite Series, he seems to be the one that’s ready to win a Classic. On top of that, he had pictures on his Facebook page this week of an 8 pounder he caught in practice, so it sounds like he’s on the fish to win.
For my 5th pick, I’m going with another Alabama resident, David Kilgore. He’s in this Classic due to his win in the Southern Open last season but not only is he a long time Open competitor, he’s qualified for the Elite Series 3 separate times. Although Kilgore has chosen to turn down all 3 invitations to the Elite Series, his repeated qualification shows he has the chops to fish with the big names of the sport. With his experience on Guntersville, lets call him this year’s dark horse.
Regardless of who wins the tournament, the true winners of this year’s Classic will be the fans. Birmingham has always been a great host of the Classic and Guntersville looks like it will turn out the huge strings that it’s capable of. The pros will put on a great show and I know it’s one I don’t want to miss. I hope to see you all there!
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Denali Rods, Bryan’s Marine, BoatUS Angler, Power Pole, Costa del Mar Sunglasses and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.