August 25th, 2014
10 Contenders To Watch At the 2016 Bassmaster Classicby Grant Pentiricci March 2, 2016
Z-Man Fishing is introducing the ChatterBait Freedom vibrating jig as aFebruary 29, 2016
I really think that all the anglers competing in the Classic are absolutely amazing. I mean, they’ve all earned their spot so it should go without saying that they’re all great anglers and competitors. Unfortunately, with so many anglers competing, you just can’t cover them all, so we’ve come up with a “10 to watch” list.
Anglers on this list have a great shot at winning the classic in my opinion, but there are also anglers on this list that I think are of note because they may be an underdog, have an interesting back story and have the skills to pull off a Classic win.
If you are following the 2016 GEICO Bassmaster Classic, here are 10 anglers I think you will want to keep tabs on:
Kevin Van Dam
Let’s face it, although KVD came in 24th in AOY points, he is still a contender. Kevin is a four-time Bassmaster Classic champion and seven-time AOY champion. He has more experience winning than any other angler. His nerves of steel and ability to catch fish when surrounded by spectator boats is uncanny. Such a historic angler is a must follow for any bass fishing fan.
Aside from his experience and great career, KVD has a real shot at winning the Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake this year. His ability to catch fish using a variety of techniques may be just what it takes to come out on top. It will be interesting to see what part of Grand Lake KVD starts his day on for Day 1 of the Classic.
Edwin has a lot of experience winning as well. He is a 10-time B.A.S.S. winner and a 13-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier. In 2015, he claimed his classic berth early by winning BASSfest on Kentucky Lake. Grand Lake O’the Cherokees is in his home range of Oklahoma, so he is undoubtedly familiar with this lake, which makes him one of my favorites to win. Edwin lives nearby in Talala, Oklahoma, so I would imagine that he has been working toward fishing this tournament for quite some time. The 2016 Bassmaster Classic is definitely one of his best shots to put a Classic championship win in his resume.
Trevor Lo is an interesting angler to watch at this year’s classic because this could be his big break. He is definitely an underdog, but that is I what I love about him. He was the winner of the college classic bracket in 2015; his first year fishing the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series. Although he is from St. Paul, Minnesota, Trevor has shown a lot of determination and it will be interesting to see how well he can decode Grand Lake O’the Cherokees during the vital practice days.
Aaron Martens has repeatedly shown that he is able to figure patterns out quickly and he is incredibly versatile. He had a great 2015 and qualified for the Classic as Angler of the Year for 2015, demonstrating that he is on top of his game this year.
He is a 3-time AOY champ (2005, 2013 & 2015) so you know that he has staying power. He has been described in the past as the best natural angler in the Elite Series. Aaron is going to be one of the anglers that many fans pay attention to during the 2016 Bassmaster Classic.
Jason is also a local angler who is familiar with Grand Lake O’the Cherokees and surrounding lakes. He came in second in AOY points in 2015 and is a 2-time Bassmaster Elite Champion and winner of two Bassmaster Open events. He is from Park Hill, Oklahoma and reportedly has a lot of knowledge about Grand Lake. I have heard that Jason hasn’t fished Grand Lake much lately and has even discounted “local knowledge” because of the recent water levels. It will be interesting to see what he does during the tournament. Jason doesn’t have as much experience of some of the other top anglers, but I think that he has the capability to become Classic Champion.
I don’t know if it is because I got to see Casey win the 2015 Bassmaster Classic first hand or what, but Casey is definitely on my 10 to watch list. Aside from qualifying automatically for this year’s classic, Casey is a 3-time Elite Series winner, so you know he can fish! He is from South Carolina which isn’t exactly hometown advantage, but I think that he has a lot of experience fishing lakes similar to Grand Lake and also pattern fishing on impoundments.
For Casey I think the challenge will be staying focused on the water and not thinking about the fact that he is the defending champion. I really think Casey could win it again, but it’s probably going to be a mental battle for him.
Randy came in 25th this year for AOY points which secured him a spot in the Classic. Most notably, Randy was the Bassmaster Classic Champion in 2014 and has qualified for the Bassmaster Classic 14 times which makes him very experienced. Reportedly, Randy has been busy researching Grand Lake and has amassed quite a bit of information on it. It will be interesting to see how he does during practice to pattern the lake. Being from Alabama, Randy has fished this type of lake before, so I have high hopes for him.
Being from Canada, Charles is definitely an underdog for the Classic. He is a cold water angler that is used to fishing for northern strain largemouth. If that isn’t hard enough, Charles has to quickly pattern fish in three days of practice. I think that fishing a Bassmaster Classic is a dream many Canadian anglers have, so the fact that Charles gets to do this is amazing and makes him one of my favorites.
Charles earned his classic berth by winning the B.A.S.S. Nation Eastern Division, which is no small feat in itself! He is a very analytical angler and I think he should be able to pattern the largemouth in Grand Lake successfully. One thing that may help him immensely is that the historical high water levels have thrown the entire impoundment into a state of flux which even the local anglers will have to try and figure out as well. This may help to level the playing field for Charles.
Jordan Lee came in 9th for AOY points in 2015, which earned him a berth for the 2016 Bassmaster Classic. He is an underdog as he only took up fishing seriously when he was in his early teens. I think that is a testament to this young man’s determination and abilities. Jordan is from Alabama, so fishing impoundments and patterns is nothing new to him. He just needs to be able to stay focused and not let the Bassmaster Classic hype get to him. I think that it will be interesting to watch how he deals with fishing against KVD and E2!
Greg is another underdog which I think is worth noting and I will be paying close attention to how he does. I think that any 21-year-old who can qualify for the 2016 Bassmaster Classic has strong fishing career prospects. Greg is a college senior and comes from Iowa. He won the B.A.S.S. Nation Northern division to claim his spot in the classic. He may be out of home state, but he has techniques in his wheelhouse that will be useful in this tournament.
Greg has said that fishing the Bassmaster Classic is “a dream come true”, and I want to witness that happening for this young man.
Regardless of who wins this year’s Classic Championship, I think that it is going to be exciting. I’m hoping that it’s one of my top picks; but after all, it is fishing and anything can happen!
About AuthorMore info about author
Grant is the Founder of AnglingAuthority.com. While he primarily fishes for large mouth and small mouth bass, he’s passionate about sport fishing in general and an avid multispecies angler. Learning about new tactics, gear, species and conditions is all part of what makes the sport challenging and enjoyable. Grant also loves to travel, particularly to prime fishing destinations. Grant participates in regional tournaments and is a proud pro staff member of State Apparel, Power-Pole and Gambler Lures. Grant is a member of B.A.S.S, Canadian Bass Anglers Federation and Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters.More by Grant Pentiricci