2012 Elite Series Green Bay Challenge
The mystery has been over for several weeks. The host of the seventh Bassmaster Elite Series event of the 2012 season is Green Bay, Wis., and the fishery is Lake Michigan.
But what part of Lake Michigan? After all, it's one of the five "Great" Lakes for a reason — it covers more than 14 million surface acres. That means you could combine the surface area of the other lakes and reservoirs on the 2012 Elite schedule (Okeechobee, Bull Shoals, Douglas, Toledo Bend and Oneida) and easily fit them into the area covered by Lake Michigan ... 19 times over.
On Lake Michigan, the Elites will be confined to the area south of a line between the Splinter Causeway break wall near the mouth of the Oconto River on the west and the Sherwood Point Lighthouse on the east. No boats will be allowed north of that line.
Updated AOY standings after the Green Bay Challenge
KVD checking on JVD
While we were videoing Jonathon VanDam, the phone rang. It was Kevin VanDam asking if JVD had gone to fish in the harbor where the water was clearer.
It needs to be emphasized that Kevin is working with us in the War Room today, and cannot offer any advice to his nephew, or anyone else in the field for that matter. Kevin simply wanted to know where Jonathan had been fishing Sunday morning. No competitor can talk to anyone while on the water except B.A.S.S. officials.
Not long after, JVD cranks up and runs 5 miles south, then spins the boat around and heads north to the harbor.
Wow! Great minds think alike.
We'll see how it works out. He still doesn't have a fish in the boat.
The last time Brandon Palaniuk had the lead going into the final round of an Elite event (at the Arkansas River earlier this year), he had almost a 13-pound margin over second place and ended up winning by almost 12 pounds. Today his lead is a lot tighter — just 4 ounces. The real pressure is on JVD today. His only chance to qualify for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic is with a win. Palaniuk's already in by virtue of his win on the Arkansas River.
Palaniuk can become the first angler to win multiple Elite events in a single season since Skeet Reese won two in 2010. The only other angler to do it was Kevin VanDam in 2007 and 2008.
Valliant Efforts in Green Bay
We've heard all day that several of the pros are struggling, many just to get a limit. We know that top performers Greg Hackney and Dean Rojas haven't filled out their limits yet. But there are a few who have not only reported limits but who have also reported sacks 13 pounds or larger. Here they are, according to BASSTrakk:
Brandon Palaniuk, 19 pounds, 4 ounces
Kevin VanDam, 16-4
Tommy Biffle, 14-4
Mark Davis, 14-0
Aaron Martens, 13-0
Steve Kennedy, 13-0
One streak ended yesterday and another continued.
Bobby Lane's string of consecutive limits on Elite Series competition days ended at 39. That's tied for the ninth-longest such streak in Elite Series history. Kevin VanDam has the longest streak at 57. Bobby Lane already had the second-longest streak in the books at 47.
KVD's streak of cuts made has been extended to 20, which is also the record. That's 20 straight times he's earned a check in Elite Series tournaments. If that doesn't seem impressive, consider it again.
If all the Elite Series anglers were equally talented, the odds of finishing in the top half and earning a check would be 50/50 each time out. It would be like flipping a coin. Half the time you'd get a check; half the time you wouldn't.
The odds of earning a check in 20 consecutive tournaments then, would be like fliping a coin 20 times and having it come up heads each time — roughly 1 in 1,048,576. That's not as unlikely as winning the lottery, but those are still really long odds. If your non-fishing buddies want to tell you that fishing is mostly luck, tell them about KVD and his stats.
KVD on day 3 of the Green Bay challenge
Current Angler of the Year Standings
1 Brent Chapman 570 2 Ott DeFoe 548 3 Todd Faircloth 539 4 Terry Scroggins 531 5 Matthew Herren 519 6 Kevin VanDam 514 7 Randy Howell 512 8 Greg Hackney 509 9 Bill Lowen 504 10 Dean Rojas 497 11 David Walker 486 12 Edwin Evers 481 13 Chris Lane 467 14 Aaron Martens 463 15 Yusuke Miyazaki 451
KVD on day 1 of the Green Bay Challenge
Green Bay KVD preview
On a Northern fishery which will be won with deep-water smallmouth, Michigander Kevin VanDam is the odds-on favorite this week to win. Few anglers on the Elite Series are as comfortable on big, Northern water as KVD is, and few know as much about catching smallies as does the Kalamazoo Kid. Outside of Tennessee's Dale Hollow, the best smallmouth factories in the country are in KVD's neck of the woods, and he grew up fishing them.
"Kevin is always a heavy hitter when smallmouth come into play," Chapman told me.
Although KVD has not won a tournament this season, he's quietly moved into seventh place in the Angler of the Year standings – behind Chapman, Todd Faircloth, Randy Howell, Matt Herren, Ott DeFoe and Terry Scroggins. If KVD wins here, those contenders might have to start thinking about next year because KVD is the best closer in the business.
That said, at the time of this writing, everybody and their dog is picking KVD to win; he's at 73.5 percent ownership. Now, if you're above the 90 percentile in the Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing points race, stick with KVD and try to pull away from the pack with a sneaky pick in one of the lower buckets.
If, however, you're languishing in the back of the pack and need to swing for the fences the rest of the season for a chance to win your league – or at least not finish dead last in it – put Edwin Evers on your roster in Bucket A. At 7.8 percent ownership, Evers offers the best combination of value and past performance.
In 2007 and 2008 Bassmaster tournaments on Lake Erie – another Great Lake fishery thick with fat smallmouth – Evers placed first and third. In those same tournaments, KVD placed 16th and 18th.
Faircloth also placed ahead of KVD in both of those tournaments – 14th and 6th. Having just won the Mississippi River Rumble and sitting in second place in AOY points, Faircloth has both the momentum and past performance on a similar fishery to merit consideration for your roster. At 4.2 percent ownership, he also offers great value.
The only other Bucket A angler to finish ahead of KVD on Lake Erie in 2007 and 2008 is Greg Hackney, at fifth and 12th, respectively. Chapman finished behind KVD in both tournaments, at 20th and 31st.
Jonathon VanDam - 79-2
1. 17-11, 2. 17-7, 3. 20-12
Brandon Palaniuk - 76-12
1. 18-0, 2. 17-0, 3. 21-2
Aaron Martens - 73-3
1. 20-0, 2. 16-15, 3. 16-1
Dean Rojas - 66-14
1. 19-14, 2. 17-14, 3. 13-8
Ott DeFoe - 61-5
1. 16-11, 2. 14-11, 3. 15-0
James Niggemeyer - 60-8
1. 16-9, 2. 12-13, 3. 13-15
Skeet Reese - 59-5
1. 16-0, 2. 12-6, 3. 16-1
Tommy Biffle - 58-15
1. 17-1, 2. 13-12, 3. 16-10
Bernie Schultz - 57-4
1. 14-14, 2. 14-12, 3. 12-13
Ishama Monroe - 57-1
1. 16-13, 2. 15-5, 3. 12-15
Stephen Browning - 44-8
1. 14-10, 2. 14-15, 3. 13-6
Russell Lane - 42-9
1. 12-12, 2. 17-4, 3. 12-9
Kevin VanDam - 40-4
1. 13-1, 2. 16-5, 3. 10-14
History & Notes;
Day 2: Brandon Palaniuk - 5-10
Day 3: Jonathon VanDam - 5-9