Like last week, Green Bay is going to be an entirely new venue for the Elite Series anglers. That means there is zilch for data.
So, we got creative.
Green Bay is part of the Great Lakes, as is Lake Erie, the Detroit River and Lake Saint Clair. So we checked to see who excelled there and started crunching the data.
The last time Kotaro Kiriyama made a top 12 cut on the Elite Series it was way back in 2008. On Lake Erie. And he won. See where I’m going with this? Kiriyama actually has a 995.327 average in two events at Erie (he placed second there in 2007). He’s only cracked the top 30 once the last two seasons, so picking him may be a stretch. But, if you want a real darkhorse with serious upside, he may be your guy.
Want a guy who’s not a stretch? Look to Edwin Evers. He has a staggering 990.476 in those same two Erie events (he won in 2007 and finished third in 2008).
Then we have a pair of Western pros who excel with drop-shots (which could come into play). John Murray and Aaron Martens have 976.369 and 957.855 averages, respectively. Obviously, Great Lakes smallies like drop-shots as much as the fish out West.
Now, here’s where things come out of left field. What do Greg Hackney, Todd Faircloth and Rick Morris have in common? Probably a number of things, but one I bet few guessed was a 900+ average on the Great Lakes. Two tournaments on a different body of water doesn’t necessarily mean any of these guys are locks, but seven — SEVEN — pros had above-900 averages in those two Erie events. That is impressive.
One many feel will be a lock is Kevin VanDam. After all, he grew up fishing Great Lakes smallies. Sure enough, his 848.954 average proves he hasn’t forgotten how to catch ‘em.
As for guys to steer clear of, Byron Velvick, Andy Montgomery, Dean Rojas and Tommy Biffle all have below-200 averages. Again, we’re not saying they can’t catch them, but the stats sure don’t make them look like favorites.