Pundits’ Picks: Atchafalaya Basin - Major League Fishing

Pundits’ Picks: Atchafalaya Basin

February 8, 2003 • MLF • Uncategorized

FLW Outdoors writers counter the pros with their own picks for the Atchafalaya Basin FLW Outdoors Fishing Challenge

FLW Okeechobee scores

Pros: 2,937
Pundits: 2,754

I could ramble on about how some (actually one) of my fellow pundits dropped the ball on Lake Okeechobee, but I’m not here to pour salt in our wounds. Instead, I must rally the troops as we continue to march down the road to Richmond, Va. The pros may be off to a quick start, but as we pundits know, fortunes can swing wildly from tournament to tournament.

Pros, you’ve fired a shot across our bow. But can you back it up with another solid performance? Only time will tell.

Here are your winning picks for the Atchafalaya Basin FLW Outdoors Fishing Challenge.

– Dave
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Wal-Mart FLW Tour stop No. 2
Atchafalaya Basin, Morgan City, La.
Feb. 12-15

FLW pundit Dave WashburnDave Washburn
Executive editor, FLW Outdoors
Last tournament score (Lake Okeechobee): 785

1) Greg Hackney. Hackney came into his own last season, finishing 10th in the Land O’Lakes Angler-of-the-Year points race before wrapping up with a lucky 13th-place finish at the FLW Tour Championship, and he is off to another solid start this year. If there is a local favorite on the Atchafalaya Basin, it’s Hackney.
2) David Dudley. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: Never bet against a guy who uses a chain saw when he goes fishing. This Castrol pro knows how to get into those out-of-the-way places that often hold a winning stringer of bass, which is certainly a skill that will come in handy in the backwaters of the Atchafalaya Basin.
3) Clark Wendlandt. Wendlandt never disappoints. What else is there to say? I look for this to be the best year yet for this Kellogg’s pro.
4) Randy Blaukat. I’m relying heavily on his performance in the Ranger M1 on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta for this pick, but something tells me that the Atchafalaya Basin will play right into Blaukat’s hands. This Fujifilm pro seems to have a knack for figuring out complicated river systems.
5) Jason Kilpatrick. Again, since the FLW Tour has never stopped on the Atchafalaya Basin, I must rely heavily on each angler’s past performance on similar costal systems. Kilpatrick is a newcomer to the Wal-Mart FLW Tour, and he got off to a shaky start on Lake Okeechobee, finishing 167th. He turned in an outstanding performance, however, at the M1 on the Mobile-Tensaw Delta in 2002 and has performed very well on similar systems in the Wal-Mart Bass Fishing League. Like any good long shot, he is going to pay off big-time.

FLW pundit Gary MortensonGary Mortenson
Editor, FLWOutdoors.com
Last tournament score: 731

1) Kevin VanDam. For starters, the world’s best bass angler finished the Lake Okeechobee tournament in 84th place. And you know what, he’s going to be mad. To be sure, VanDam wants to qualify for the Jacob’s Cup and a shot at that half-million-dollar prize in a big way. However, another 84th-place finish is going to put the Kalamazoo King in some serious trouble. No way does that happen. VanDam will add his first tour title to go along with his four second-place finishes and one third-place finish when all is said and done.
2) David Dudley. The Manteo Machine crushed in the Deep South at the 2002 Ranger M1 tournament and I expect him to do more of the same at the Atchafalaya Basin. He has his chain saw gassed up, his competitive juices flowing and, most importantly, he owes me BIG-TIME after screwing up my picks at the end of 2002. Plus, I’m pretty sure he already spent all of the $700,000 in winnings he earned from the Mobile Delta taking singing lessons in a failed bid to get on Star Search.
3) Clark Wendlandt. Oh, how this pick pains me. To be sure, I hate selecting the competition (see Pros’ Picks) to do well. But what’s even worse than that is knowing that I’m picking an angler who is undoubtedly going to pick himself. So, either way, I lose. If Wendlandt does well, I’ll never here the end of it. And if he doesn’t, he screws up my picks. But that’s just life in the fast lane for pundits.
4) Greg Hackney. You won’t find a more quiet or humble guy on tour. But I’ll tell you what, the man from Oak Ridge, La., can fish with the best of them. Sure, he’s been flying under the radar screen for quite some time now, but I have a lot of faith in Hackney. He’s gotten better with each passing tournament and he knows Louisiana waterways like the back of his hand.
5) Aaron Martens. Like VanDam, no way Martens has back-to-back sub-par weeks. I stayed away from Martens and VanDam last tournament because I had a bad feeling about Okeechobee. Turns out I was right. In any event, Martens is a great fisherman and he’s going to a lake that many pros have never fished before. In the end, Martens will make me look like a genius. Book it!

FLW pundit Rob NewellRob Newell
Contributing editor, FLW Outdoors
Last tournament score: 675

1) Greg Hackney. He’s fished the basin before and he’s been a fish-catching stick lately.
2 David Dudley. If anything ends in “delta” or “basin” then I am picking Dudley. Sharpen that blade and fire up that Poulan, David!
3) Randy Blaukat. Is this starting to sound like the M1 results from the Mobile Delta? Read on.
4) Jason Kilpatrick. Folks from the Mobile Delta say he is a tidewater river rat.
5) Clark Wendlandt. I thought it would be humorous not to pick Wendlandt at Okeechobee. It was humorous all right. Not only did he finish sixth in the tournament, but he whipped us all in the picks. I can still hear him cackling like a hyena. I get the distinct feeling that Wendlandt is gunning hard for another FLW Tour Angler-of-the-Year title this year.

FLW pundit Jeff SchroederJeff Schroeder
Editor, FLWOutdoors.com
Last tournament score: 563

1) Greg Hackney. Originally from Arkansas, Hackney’s now the Louisiana local favorite. He’s never top-10ed at the FLW level, but he’s regularly sniffing around the top 20 – especially the last two years. Could be a long shot to win, but he’s a solid points pick – especially on his new home turf.
2) David Dudley. Atchafalaya’s going to be a swamp of brush, cover and murky water. Lots of hiding places for bass. Judging by his tenacious performance under similar conditions at the M1 to get at those hard-to-reach fish, the Poulan-packing Dudley will saw his way into yet another top-five performance.
3) Clark Wendlandt. The bass should be shallow and spawning. Wendlandt’s fast out of the gate this season – again. This pick’s a no-brainer.
4) Gerald Swindle. Flipping and pitching accuracy will be essential around the cypress trees. Swindle’s one of the most doggedly accurate flippers around. Plus, he seems to thrive in Louisiana and on the Gulf Coast.
5) Rick Clunn. We’re out of Florida, so Clunn will start to be a factor. He’s been a force at most his Gulf Coast tournaments. Especially if the fishing’s tough, the Zen Master will return to the leaderboard at Atchafalaya.

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