There was a time when Bull Shoals was THE destination, not just on the White River but in the country.
It’s certainly making a comeback, what with the Elite Series now going there two years in a row. However, there have been 22 Major tournaments since 2000 on the big three White River impoundments — 13 on Beaver Lake (including one last week), eight on Table Rock and just one on Bull Shoals. Needless to say, Bull Shoals has been the black sheep.
So how do you pick favorites for a tournament that has one lone event? You look at all three lakes. So let’s start crunching.
Matt Herren has had a rough start to 2013, but if he’s going to get back on track, this is the week to do it. He finished third last year at Bull Shoals. Oh, and he also happens to have an 876.783 average on all three lakes. Careful, though. He hasn’t fished Table Rock and his last tournament on Beaver was 2008, a lake where he only had one top 20. The numbers say pick him, but tread with caution.
In fact, you might as well tread with caution with most of these anglers. Aaron Martens has the next best average at 824.800, and he has a pair of top 12s on the trio of lakes. Yet, his 58th at Bull Shoals last year doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Few anglers will have more confidence heading into this event than Jason Christie. He won the FLW Tour event on Beaver last weekend, and he has an immense amount of experience on the trio. His 813.558 only looks better when you throw in his eighth at table rock in 2012 and fourth at Beaver in 2009. He’s certainly been trending toward the positive on these lakes in recent years. The lone problem: Christie won last week on an Alabama Rig, which can’t be used in this weekend’s event.
We’ll throw him on this list because we’re obligated to, but we’re pretty sure you already knew Kevin VanDam was a favorite. He has an 804.334 average, and he’s KVD. Need we say more? Of course, he only finished 45th at Bull Shoals last year.
Some other pros with averages north of 750.000 include Brent Chapman (799.880, fifth at Bull Shoals last year), Mark Davis (790.678, 47th), Mike McClelland (781.990, 35th), Greg Hackney (766.718, 51st), Scott Rook (766.267, eighth) and we will throw in Tommy Biffle because he just misses the cut but is a local (741.506, 32nd).
Want some big-name guys not to pick? Stephen Browning may live in Arkansas, but his 405.519 average on the three lakes and 94th at Bull Shoals last year scream keep away. Now Terry Scroggins better fits someone who should struggle on the White River, and he has to the tune of a 528.314 average and 92nd last year. Other guys like these two include Davy Hite (430.688, 90th at Bull Shoals last year), Byron Velvick (392.931, 86th), Paul Elias (450.326, 80th) and Tim Horton (481.178, 79th). Just remember, though, that last week we highlighted Brandon Coulter and his 195.134 average on Beaver Lake as someone to stay away from Fantasy Fishing wise. Then he went out and made the top 10. This week, proceed with caution across the board.