The top 49 anglers are only hours away from throwing down on Louisiana’s rat nest known as the Red River and will be competing for the most coveted title in all of bass fishing, the Bassmasters Classic!
The story lines are plentiful.
Skeet Reese, who won the Classic three years ago on these very waters will not be able to defend his title after having a poor 2011 season, he failed to qualify. A tough pill to swallow given the 2010 season that is arguably the best season ever put together by an angler. The theories of what happened to Skeet in ’11 are plentiful but fishing is fishing and things sometimes just don’t come together. I’m sure there’s multiple explanations for why Skeet is on the outside looking in but I’m confident we’ll see him at the top of his game in 2012.
KVD, what can I say? The man’s to good to even refer to him by his real name and now is only known as a 3 lettered fishing god who simply toys with mere mortals. Littered with credentials, he’s earned 6 Angler of the Year titles and won 4 Bassmaster Classics all while racking up over 5 million in winnings alone. Three times a charm right? KVD won the last two Classics respectively and now will have the chance to win his third in a row. The Jedi Zen Master, Rick Clunn had that exact same reality once in his studded career but after going back to back, he came up just shy by placing second. Impressive to say the least but don’t think KVD will finish in second, that spot is usually held for Aaron Martens. You know KVD’s eyes are only set on first, a scary thought for the rest of the field.
Speaking of Aaron Martens, the California Kid is one of my favorite anglers and though I poked at the obvious, 4 second place finishes in Classic competition is in my mind the best resume under Clunn and Van Dam’s. I think this might be the one where he finally claims the top spot and to be honest, there’s no one who deserves it more. My life goal is to qualify for a Classic and Martens is not only a every year contender, he’s threatened the throne more than any other. If he’s the one to hold the trophy over his head, we’ll all get the honor of sharing the emotion with him.
Greg Hackney, the local who’s fishing in his fourth hometown Classic has got his hands full or should I say mind full trying to deal with the lost opportunities of the past. Every serious bass angler dreams of competing in a Bassmaster Classic on their home water, yet the Hack Attack has had that opportunity 3 times before and watched them all slip away. I’ve spoken with him in person about this a couple times and you can’t help but notice how bad it bugs him and how ridiculously bad he wants it. Truth is when you know too much about a body of water it’s easy to catch yourself chasing your tail instead of staying in one or two spots and grinding it out. This year could be the exception, besides the fact that Hackney’s one of the best bass fisherman to ever walk the planet, the word on the water is that the Red River is fishing tough and the clean water is at a minimum. With anglers expecting to be fishing on top of each other and thinning out the fish, Hack’s knowledge of the area could come into play when needing a small out of the way spot to produce a few key bites. I wouldn’t bet against him.
Mike Iaconelli is always a threat anywhere bass swim and his credentials in the crayfish state is mind boggling. Take Skeet Reese out of the 2009 Classic and Iaconelli would be holding his second Classic title in Louisiana. To bad for him, Skeet was in the 2009 field but won’t be now. Will Ike find that same magic? He’s been fishing on top of his game and has some added motivation in that he’s been so close in numerous other events in the past couple years. When the bite’s tough, he’s all the better. No matter what, if he’s on ’em I’m sure I’ll be able to hear it all the way up here in Minnesota! Stay you Ike, we wouldn’t want you any other way!
Now that I’ve talked about the numerous elephants in the room, what about the dark horses? I should be smacked for referring to Denny Brauer as a dark horse as the man’s truly a legend but after being a “every year” classic contender through the 80’s and 90’s, his appearances have been less than spotty over the past decade. What’s in the past is in the past and unfortunately for the competition, Denny’s there and could be flippin’ and pitchin’ his way to his second title.
From legendary status to spring chicken. Brandon Palaniuk has earned his name amongst the best by being thrown to the wolves last year on the Delta but ended by making the cut and banging boats with KVD and the rest of the top 10 on the final day. Brandon came up through the Federation but has since proven that there’s a smooth transition from amateur to professional. His Federation win on this very body of water has got to give him some added motivation as well.
Someone is going to earn the right to hold the trophy high come Sunday and will have earned it against a stacked field that all deserve it. Good luck to the entire 2012 Bassmaster Classic Field!