Every tournament has its favorites to win. Some look at local pros as the favorites. Others go by past performances. Yet others simply go on hunches.
We go by numbers, and we have plenty of them. Hence the return of the series “Data Overload.”
Before Major events, we want to use our database of stats to figure out who really are the favorites at any given event. We want to know if locals really hold the edge, or if time of year makes a difference with certain pros. We don’t want opinions. Just stats.
Are you ready? Then let’s start crunching.
Did you know there have only been three Major and Minor events combined on Grand Lake in the last 11 years? Two Elite Series events (2006, 2007) and an FLW EverStart (2002). And only four anglers fished all three events — Greg Hackney (783.658 average), Terry Butcher (468.926), Bradley Hallman (419.355) and Kevin Short (391.172). Not exactly a history of data to go on there. Luckily, the best one of the four (Hackney) also happens to be the only one fishing the Classic this year, and he does have a pretty decent average. Just something to think about.
Now, if the criteria is switched to looking at just the two Elite Series events, a few guys clearly stand out. No. 1 is Edwin Evers. In the two Major events he has the best average (975.948), and he also hails from Oklahoma, giving him a local advantage. Of course, only one local has ever won the Classic.
Behind him is Mike McClelland. Not only did he win the 2006 event, but he also happens to be one of the best with a jerkbait. Judging from the pictures of practice the jerkbait will come into play, which means so should McClelland.
Then you have Kevin VanDam, Aaron Martens and Michael Iaconelli — three of the biggest names in the sport with three of the best averages. VanDam won the 2007 event, has a 897.059 average and is KVD. You know, the guy who has won this tournament multiple times. Martens’ runner-up finishes in the Classic are become the thing of legend, but he may be able to break through if his average is any indication. He boasts an 895.364. Finally, Iaconelli has an 876.443, which is pretty darn amazing, too.
Let’s expand the criteria to the state of Oklahoma, just to see where that gets us.
That gets us to Tommy Biffle, who has 995.066 average in his home state in the last five years. Oh, and McClelland’s name pops up with a 799.159 average over that same span. Just saying.
Here’s another guy that may be off the radar. In fact, we had to really mess with the rankings in the Custom Search even to get him to show up, but when Jason Christie did, he had a 951.220 average in his home state. Grand Lake happens to be Christie’s home lake, and he has proven a number of times to be great with a jerkbait. He just has to beat the local curse.
As for the rest of the guys in Group A of Bassmaster’s Fantasy Fishing, let’s just say not all of them should be there, at least according to their averages.
Brent Chapman is a pretty solid choice (719.283 in the state of Oklahoma), especially since he only lives a state away and is coming off an Angler of the Year performance in 2012. Surprisingly, Chris Lane is not a bad pick either (665.856). Not sure there will be much for flipping this weekend, but he seems to have done ok the last decade in the Sooner State.
As for Skeet Reese and Todd Faircloth, pick them at your own risk. Reese has won the Classic before, but he only has a 565.279 average in the entire state. Faircloth, despite living relatively close, isn’t any better with a 550.387. That’s not to say either won’t win the Classic, but the stats point elsewhere.