There were a couple tournaments over the weekend, but let’s be honest, everyone’s focus is on Lake Guntersville and the Bassmaster Classic.
The last couple years we’ve looked at the data to try and find the favorites and the dark horses for the Classic, with some pretty solid results.
Despite limited data for Grand Lake, our data was able to nail a number of top 20 anglers and warned about picking a few favorites. Though, we will admit that a few guys whose averages jumped out — Edwin Evers, Aaron Martens and Tommy Biffle — all finished middle of the pack. Two years ago, every one of our favorites and dark horses finished in the top 20.
This year, there is no shortage of data for Guntersville, which only increases the odds when we begin to look at the averages.
So who is the favorite based on the averages? No surprise, it’s Kevin VanDam.
Just like BassGold, our data puts KVD as an overwhelming favorite to win the Classic, as he has an 885.660 average at Guntersville since the turn of the century. He has a win, two more top 10s and a top 20 in his last four stops at Guntersville. Unless his boat sinks and takes all his tackle with it, he’s making the top 10.
The next closest competitor who is fishing the Classic? Keith Combs with an 840.610. On face value it might seem odd to see a Texas pro with such a good average at Guntersville, but Combs is pretty darn good with a crankbait and at fishing grass. Though, his one trip to Guntersville in February resulted in a 43rd-place finish. He’s a Group B guy in fantasy you may want to look at.
Aaron Martens and Michael Iaconelli have the next two best averages — no shocker there — but let’s take a look at a Group C guy who you need to know — Randall Tharp. Tharp is coming off a Forrest Wood Cup victory, and while he currently lives in Florida, he spent the majority of his life fishing Guntersville. Hence, his 750.028 average.
And just behind him is Mark Davis. Another Group B guy to watch.
OK, now that we have the overall favorites out of the way, let’s look at the best bets and buyer bewares in the top three Fantasy Fishing groups.
Best: Kevin Van Dam, Aaron Martens, Michael Iaconelli, Gerald Swindle
Be Careful: Todd Faircloth (626.278 average), Chris Lane (560.143), Bobby Lane (531.349)
Best: Keith Combs, Mark Davis, David Walker
Be Careful: Brent Chapman (568.952), Randy Howell (557.342), Stephen Browning (512.305)
Best: Randall Tharp, Morizo Shimuzu, John Murray, Terry Scroggins
Be Careful: Fred Roumbanis (534.843), Casey Ashley (318.543)