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Pundit picks for Kentucky Lake

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Who Aaron Martens would choose for BASSfest

By Tyler Wade

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Aaron Martens, who just won the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Havasu on the other side of the country, only has to drive a few hours north of his home for the next event, Zippo BASSfest presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps. It will be on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.

He has competed on Kentucky Lake multiple times and knows the fishery. Also, as a veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro, he knows the anglers as well as anyone. So we asked him who he would put on his Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team.

Read the rest of the article here or below.

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We’re only at midterms, not finals

Also, a jaunt into literature …

By Pete Robbins

PARIS, Tenn. — All over the country, it is the magic time of year known as graduation season, with students both brilliant and “just present” donning gowns and mortarboards to accept a piece of paper attesting to their achievements over the past four years. They’ll sit in folding chairs on a lawn, or in a stuffy auditorium, and listen to successful members of society regale them with parables and exhortations to “put your own stamp on the world.”

Read the rest of the article here or below.

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Kentucky Lake will be a ledge-fest

By Ronnie Moore

PARIS, Tenn. — Ledges, ledges and more ledges should be on tap for the Kentucky Lake BASSFest event during the first week of June.

Fish are headed deep, and on the Tennessee River that just means great opportunities to put together big-time stringers. When I picked my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, I had to mix it up between some young crankers and methodical veterans who know what to expect when banging heads on the ledges.

Read the rest of the article here or below.

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Toyota wrap-up: You should have chosen Evers

By Tyler Wade

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Edwin Evers earned big Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing bonus points on Day 1 of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Havasu presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, and then he went on finish in third place. Players who picked him did best. His 40-point big-bag bonus and his 5-point Day 1 leader bonus pushed him head-and-shoulders above anyone in his bucket.

Read the rest of the article here or below.

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Full articles

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Who Aaron Martens would choose for BASSfest

By Tyler Wade

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Aaron Martens, who just won the Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Havasu on the other side of the country, only has to drive a few hours north of his home for the next event, Zippo BASSfest presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps. It will be on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.

He has competed on Kentucky Lake multiple times and knows the fishery. Also, as a veteran Bassmaster Elite Series pro, he knows the anglers as well as anyone. So we asked him who he would put on his Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team.

“It will be a good one,” said Martens, “but the fishing’s funky right now, though. I think the winner will catch 20 pounds a day, maybe 25 on one day. There’s some big fish in there. I think we’re looking at about 87 1/2 pounds for the win.”

Here are his choices for each bucket.

Bucket A: VanDam

Kevin VanDam was Martens’ first choice for Bucket A. VanDam is also the first choice for many Fantasy Fishing players; he’s owned by 37 percent of them at the time of this writing.

“He’s got the past, the record there,” said Martens. “He’s been the most consistent guy at Kentucky Lake.”

Don’t want to go with the crowd? Pick Jason Christie, said Martens.

“He’s a good offshore angler,” Martens said. “This suits his wheelhouse.”

Brent Ehrler, too, would be a good choice.

“He’s just coming off that big win,” said Martens, referring to the Toyota Texas Bass Classic on Lake Fork last week.

But when it came to picking himself, he wasn’t sure.

“I think I should do pretty good there,” said Martens. “It’s my favorite type of fishing. Usually big baits do well there, and that’s my favorite. I might go shallow. I don’t know. Can I even pick myself?”

Yes, you can pick yourself.

“OK, well, then, yeah, I’ll do well there. I expect I’ll get a Top 12, but you know, I’m always looking to win, so we’ll see.”

Bucket B: Evers

Edwin Evers was Martens’ first pick from Bucket B, as he is for most players. He’s currently the top pick in the bucket at 23.4 percent.

“He’s a really good offshore graph angler,” said Martens.

But Martens found Bucket B to be tough to pick from because there are so many good options in the bucket. Ott DeFoe and Brandon Lester were other good choices, he said, as well as Greg Hackney and Kelly Jordon.

“Hackney might mix it up and go shallow,” said Martens.

“Jordon has done well there in the past. It fishes a lot like Texas lakes, so he should do well there.”

Mike McClelland is another solid choice.

“He’s a strong offshore fisherman,” said Martens. “He knows when to fish slow and when to change it up. He’s good at picking up on subtle changes.”

Bucket C: Faircloth

“Todd Faircloth is probably one of the strongest anglers in this bucket,” said Martens, giving him the nod for Bucket C.

Other good choices?

Casey Ashley: “He’s had a really good year, and he’s good at ledges.”

Cliff Pace: “He should be good even though he’s struggled this year. He’s another strong offshore angler.”

Timmy Horton: “He’s been struggling, but he’s really good at these lakes.”

Bucket C is tough, said Martens, because these are really good anglers, but many of them are in a funk right now.

Bucket D: Omori

Takahiro Omori is the top pick in Bucket D, and he’s also Martens’ pick.

“He’s a crankin’ fool,” said Martens, “and there’s gonna be a lot of that type of fishing.”

But David Mullins is a great pick, too.

“He should do good there,” he said. “He loves deep water fishing, and he grew up fishing Tennessee lakes.”

Randall Tharp is another good choice.

“Tharp has a lot of knowledge on that water, and he has a lot of past experience there.”

Other strong picks in Bucket D are Brett Hite, Chad Pipkens and Koby Kreiger.

Bucket E: Mueller

Paul Mueller is a good choice for Bucket E.

“He should be strong now,” said Martens.

Matt Reed is another good pick.

“He has experience there and is really good offshore.”

Don’t want a high ownership guy? Try Morizo Shimizu or Fred Roumbanis.

“Morizo has done well there in the past,” said Martens, “and Roumbanis is from that area, so he should do well.”

Martens realized when he’d finished that almost all of his top picks were bucket favorites, but he stood by his choices. He said they’re probably the best picks, and it makes sense that so many players chose them.

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We’re only at midterms, not finals

Also, a jaunt into literature …

By Pete Robbins

PARIS, Tenn. — All over the country, it is the magic time of year known as graduation season, with students both brilliant and “just present” donning gowns and mortarboards to accept a piece of paper attesting to their achievements over the past four years. They’ll sit in folding chairs on a lawn, or in a stuffy auditorium, and listen to successful members of society regale them with parables and exhortations to “put your own stamp on the world.”

These events have a ring of finality about them, but the joke’s on you graduates. The scam is that with each additional rung you climb up the ladder, the subsequent demands get tougher. No matter what you achieved in the classroom, at the school newspaper or on the playing fields, you will continue to get slapped in the face and then taunted by the real world. It all starts over tomorrow.

The same holds true for the Elite Series. While some anglers made major moves up or down on the recently-completed West Coast swing and others just held their places in line, the season is hardly over. They’ve graduated to the second half of the season, but all that guarantees is another four events and a big gas bill. They have the piece of paper, but the story of their seasons remains a big question mark. Mathematically, a lot is still possible.

Each of the 112 anglers in the field has a role to play. Dean Rojas, a veteran champion who has never claimed a Classic title or AOY trophy, sits in first. He’s like the class valedictorian who hitchhiked away from campus after his last final with uncertain plans. When you catch up with him again down the road, he’ll either have cured cancer or else moved to a Wisconsin commune to raise organic ginseng. In other words, after four more tournaments he could be the AOY or he could be off the grid, depending on the choices he makes.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Randall Tharp, currently in unfamiliar territory in 88th place overall. He’s the friend who arrived freshman year never having tasted failure, only to get an unexpected smackdown and the first B’s and C’s of his life. Now he has to claw his way back to Phi Beta Kappa, also known as the Bassmaster Classic.

We don’t have time to go through every angler’s likely “career path” (I can’t figure out who is the Sen. Blutarsky in this bunch), so I’m going to combine my Kentucky Lake BASSfest picks with a little bit of book learnin’. It’ll just be the Cliff’s Notes version, though, enough to help you fake it through any cocktail party conversation.

That’s how I roll, a two-for-one column, kind of like the time you studied for your Econ final while also defending your beer pong title … but ideally with better results.

OK, onto Kentucky Lake:

Bucket A

Almost picked: Jeff Kriet (via The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Jeff Kriet is one of the best offshore structure fishermen around, yet few recognize him as such because he’s defined publically by his easygoing demeanor and the famous “waterskiing squirrel” story. Someday he’ll realize how good he is and reel off two or three wins in a row, and Kentucky Lake would be a great place to start that because he has two Top 12 Elite Series finishes there. Until that breakthrough, he’ll continue to be haunted by this next guy, KVD.

My pick: KVD (via The Art of War by Sun Tzu)

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Have you ever seen one of those videos where an angler fights a big marlin or tuna or shark for what seems like hours, only to realize that “He doesn’t know he’s hooked”? I kind of feel like that’s how Kevin VanDam is right now. Sure, he’s aware that something went horribly wrong last year, and the suspicion among part of the public is that he’s no longer in control of his own destiny, but based on my interactions with him, I can assure you that just cashing a check or making a Top 12 will not make him happy.

He wants to win. He needs to win.

Kentucky Lake, where he’s never finished lower than third in four Elite Series attempts, is a good place for that to happen. Normally I’d shy away from him, but with fan favorites like Dean Rojas, Justin Lucas, Skeet Reese, Aaron Martens and Mike Iaconelli in his bucket, I don’t expect him to garner his normally ultra-high ownership percentage.

Bucket B

Almost picked: Mark Davis (via Walden by Henry David Thoreau)

“I went to the wood because I wished to live deliberately …”

I wanted to pick Mark Davis, long considered one of the world’s best postspawn anglers, the world’s most patient angler, and someone due for a big finish, but two factors prevented me from doing so.

First, his Elite Series finishes on Kentucky Lake have been lackluster — 83rd in 2008, 54th in 2009 and 66th in 2010. Second, last year he was in the AOY driver’s seat for the first half of the year only to have trouble in the second half, particularly at Chickamauga and Dardanelle, where he should have excelled.

My pick: Kelly Jordon (via Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens)

“Please, sir, I want some more.”

Hey, it’s the angler formerly known as KJ, the one who made nine Classics between 2001 and 2011 but hasn’t made one since. Don’t look now, but he’s back on track with three money finishes in four events this year, including some early round heroics at Guntersville and Havasu. At 31st in the AOY race, now’s the time for him to make a move at a familiar stomping ground, Kentucky Lake, where he finished 11th, 15th, eighth and seventh in four prior Elite attempts. It’s also where he let the cat out of the bag about the big flutter spoon. He should be able to continue his roll, and if he can tally a few of the monsters he’s known for, he might make a charge at a win.

Bucket C

Almost picked: Russ Lane (via The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner)

A man is the sum of his misfortunes. One day you’d think misfortune would get tired but then time is your misfortune.”

Some Lane is going to do well at Kentucky Lake. Bobby won here in 2009, fishing an uncharacteristic swimbait. Since then, brother Chris has built a tremendous series of victories across the country. Now it’s time for the third Lane — the one who’s not related — to experience a breakthrough. Russ Lane constantly seems to be on the verge of stardom but can’t quite leap to that next level. Except for a miserable event in 2008, he has finished 32nd, third and 15th in Elite Series competition on Kentucky Lake.

My pick: Mark Menendez (via A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway)

“The world breaks everyone and afterward a few are made strong at the broken places.”

We had two sentimental favorites win out West, both Westerners who moved east to Alabama and then claimed trophies near their home turf in front of friends and family. Can we make it three “Rudy”-grade stories in a row with Kentucky native Mark Menendez? Coming off personal health issues and then, more significantly, the loss of his wife, if he were to win on his home lake with his kids onstage to help him claim the trophy, there might not be a dry eye in the house.

Bucket D

Almost picked: Randall Tharp (via Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck)

“What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?”

Randall Tharp has made at least one championship every year since 2010, with both a Classic and a Forrest Wood Cup appearance in 2011 and 2014. I doubt he was taking them for granted, but after the disastrous start to his 2015 season, he had to be wondering if this would be his first year to fish neither one. A check at Havasu helped his chances, and he’s not mathematically eliminated, but he can’t make many mistakes from here on out to have a shot.

My pick: Steve Kennedy (via The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger)

“It’s really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes.”

Man, I love picking Kennedy. Man, I hate picking Kennedy.

His finishes are all over the map, but he’s one of the handful of anglers who also has a chance to win every time out. It’s that darn swimbait — so fun for him to throw, and likely to catch bigger-than-average fish, but also the producer of a fair number of strikeouts. I’d hate to miss a bunch of points because I didn’t take a chance on him, so I’m holding my nose and making the pick. He’s won here before in 2003 in an FLW Tour event.

Bucket E

Almost picked: Rick Clunn (via Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

“Yes, as everyone knows, meditation and water are wedded forever.”

Clearly Rick Clunn has substantial experience on Kentucky Lake, and no one is better at blocking out the hoopla of a big event than the first pro angler to seriously explore the mental side of fishing. It would be a wonderful swan song to an incredible career to earn one more win, but except for Falcon in 2013 (second) and Dardanelle last year (fourth), he hasn’t been close in a while. Is it declining physical abilities, diminished desire or something else?

My pick: Matt Reed (via Hamlet by William Shakespeare)

“To thine own self be true.”

At a super low ownership percentage, if Matt Reed does well he’ll provide serious bang for the buck. He’s an excellent structure fisherman with four money finishes in four Elite Series tournaments at Kentucky Lake, finishing 30th, 17th, 39th and 40th. With all of his time of late on Falcon and Fork, he knows about fishing for big’uns and he can deal with crowds. C’mon Matt, make me look like a genius.

Sorry, Ish. Melville never wrote “Call me Ishama.”

Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold.

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Kentucky Lake will be a ledge-fest

By Ronnie Moore

PARIS, Tenn. — Ledges, ledges and more ledges should be on tap for the Kentucky Lake BASSFest event during the first week of June.

Fish are headed deep, and on the Tennessee River that just means great opportunities to put together big-time stringers. When I picked my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, I had to mix it up between some young crankers and methodical veterans who know what to expect when banging heads on the ledges.

I am certainly pleased with my bounce-back effort after the horrendous event that was the California Delta. Havasu treated me well and I even picked some risky anglers. I hope this event is just another building block on my way back to the top where I once was! Here are my picks for the ledge-fest that should be Kentucky Lake.

Bucket A

Conservative pick: Keith Combs

Man, this might be the toughest Bucket A I have ever seen for an Elite Series event. When you have Kevin VanDam added into the list along with the top AOY anglers, it is a scary thing. Aaron Martens isn’t leading Angler of the Year, but he is on a tremendous roll with a second at the Delta and a win on Havasu. Keith Combs has proved to be one of the best offshore fishermen on the Elites.

Dark Horse pick: Jason Christie

Whether he is fishing on the ledges or skipping a jig around shallow cover, Jason Christie is dangerous. I could see him being in the mix at the end of the tournament. With how BASSFest went last year, with half of the Top 12 fishing shallow and the other half fishing deep, it’ll be interesting how it plays out this year on Kentucky Lake.

Keith Combs is my pick here because of the increased versatility he has shown in each and every tournament. He seems to always find his fish and do it his way. He utilizes his electronics to the fullest extent.

Bucket B

Conservative pick: Bobby Lane

Bobby Lane has won on Kentucky Lake in 2009 after outlasting KVD. He is fishing well after starting the season roughly on the Sabine. He has a 28th at Guntersville, sixth at the Sacramento River and a 35th at Lake Havasu. He has some momentum on his side and could do well once again.

Dark Horse pick: Davy Hite

Davy Hite has plenty of experience on the Tennessee River and his last win actually came on Pickwick in 2011. I certainly expect Hite to find his groove on the Kentucky Lake ledges. In 2009 when Bobby Lane won, Hite finished in 13th. He could quite possibly get his first Top 12 of the year during this event. Also, watch out for Jordan Lee, who has fished numerous college events on Kentucky Lake in the past few years.

I’m picking Davy Hite because of his ability to mix up slow presentations with a swimbait and crankbait. His ownership percentage is appealing to me as I hardly go with the top guy in each bucket.

Bucket C

Conservative pick: Mark Menendez

Menendez has proved to himself and the rest of the Elite Series that he can still fish at this level and find success. He has made three checks out of four attempts this season and now he is heading home in a sense. Menendez has a calm about himself where he won’t speed himself up and get in a hurry. Slow and methodical can get it done in this BASSFest event. Also, if Menendez doesn’t make the cut and fishes on Barkley on that third day, he will probably make it to Day 4 because he knows Barkley more than almost anyone in the field.

Dark Horse pick: Bradley Roy

Roy had a successful Western Swing and is also headed back close to home. If you are looking for a local pick who won’t have a high percentage of players taking advantage of his local knowledge, then I recommend Bradley Roy. He is having a pretty good year and is sitting just above middle of the pack.

Give me Menendez just for the fact of the extra chance at Barkley if he needs it. Menendez can focus all his efforts on Kentucky Lake because he certainly knows Barkley like the back of his hand.

Bucket D

Conservative pick: Derek Remitz

I could see so many anglers doing well in this bucket, but for me it is a toss-up. Picking among Randall Tharp, Brett Hite, Takahiro Omori and others is a tough one, but I’m not quite sure. So to be conservative, I think Derek Remitz could do well. After all, he is from Guntersville, which at times fishes like Kentucky Lake. Every Elite angler knows how fish set up on ledges, but some see it more often and really KNOW how they set up on ledges. I could see Remitz “schooling” a big part of the field.

Dark Horse pick: Matt Lee

I’m thinking Matt Lee on this one for the same reasons I considered his brother in Bucket B. Both of these anglers have experience on these Tennessee River lakes and know where to go and how to catch them. It helps that Kentucky Lake was an often-scheduled event for college fishing when the Lee brothers competed there.

I’m fully expecting Matt to bounce back from the Western Swing and thrive on a lake that should set up well for him and his skills. It also helps that he can get tuned into ledge fishing during the off-limits time because he lives so close to Guntersville.

Bucket E

Conservative pick: Matt Reed

Big bass plus deep fishing and big baits add up to a lake where a Texas angler could do well. My thoughts are that Matt Reed could be the Texan to do so. The last three times the Elites have fished Kentucky Lake, Reed came away with a payday. It might be the time of the year or just something about Paris, but either way, I think Reed will be a safe bet for me.

Dark Horse pick: Fletcher Shryock

Shryock has put together three finishes that have been just outside of a payday this year. I think he could find something that isn’t directly related to ledge fishing and not be as pressured as other anglers. It could get tight out on the ledges, and finding something alone could be important at this event.

Slow and steady should work well for Matt Reed this week. I’ll take him on my team.

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Toyota wrap-up: You should have chosen Evers

By Tyler Wade

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Edwin Evers earned big Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing bonus points on Day 1 of the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Havasu presented by Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, and then he went on finish in third place. Players who picked him did best. His 40-point big-bag bonus and his 5-point Day 1 leader bonus pushed him head-and-shoulders above anyone in his bucket.

Here’s the perfect team:

Bucket A: Aaron Martens, Clifford Pirch, 305 points

B: Brent Ehrler, 251

C: Edwin Evers, 335

D: David Williams, 280

E: Takahiro Omori, 285

Total: 1,456

No Fantasy Fishing player achieved a score that high.

A: Martens, Pirch

Bucket A may have been the toughest Bucket A to choose from in the history of Bucket A.

Thankfully for fans of Aaron Martens and Clifford Pirch, the two anglers tied at 305 points, putting Martens’ 20.3 percent of owners and Pirch’s 11.6 percent at the top.

The most popular pick in the bucket was Dean Rojas, who was the next-highest-scoring angler. He earned 276 points for his 43.5 percent of owners.

The next-best angler to pick was Justin Lucas. He was owned by only 2 percent of players, but he delivered 229 points.

See how stacked Bucket A was? All four of those pros were in the Top 12.

The bucket had a couple of other popular picks who disappointed. Three big names — Mike Iaconelli, Kevin VanDam and Skeet Reese — had middling ownership numbers (3.3 percent, 5.8 and 4.8, respectively) and middling Fantasy Fishing scores to go along with them (167 points, 159 and 131, respectively).

B: Ehrler

Very few people lost big points in Bucket B.

In this case, the sheeple were right. Brent Ehrler was the pick by 42.9 percent of the bucket, and he was the best with 251 points.

Other popular picks were Bobby Lane and Greg Hackney at 9.5 percent each. They scored 205 and 189 points, respectively.

The hardest hit were owners of Todd Faircloth, 9.1 percent, at only 139 points and Mike McClelland, 7.8 percent at 119 points.

Every other angler in the bucket was a low pick, around 3 percent or fewer owners.

If you didn’t pick Ehrler, you would have done well with Jeff Kriet, 2.6 percent, at 237 points; Dennis Tietje, 0.1 percent, 227; or Randy Howell, 2.7 percent, 221.

C: Evers

Edwin Evers paid huge dividends for the Fantasy Fishing players who had faith in him.

He only had 11.4 percent of owners, but with a high finish and a big-bag bonus, he earned a stout 335 points. And that was such a huge difference from second place in the bucket (Gary Klein, 3.1 percent and 257 points) that you can pretty much just kick yourself for not choosing Evers.

The sheeple pick here was Brett Hite at 54.6 percent, and he took all of his anglers down the tube with only a 61-point showing. In fact, Hite was the worst pick of the entire bucket.

That means the difference between Edwin Evers’ owners and Brett Hite’s was an astounding 274 points.

D: Williams

You may not know David Williams, which would explain the 0.1 percent ownership for this rookie. But he produced best with 280 points.

Three other Top 12 competitors were in Bucket D, too: Jonathon VanDam, Brandon Palaniuk and John Murray. VanDam was owned by 4.2 percent of players and earned 264 points, Palaniuk earned 260 points for his 24.9 percent of players, and John Murray, owned by 15.9 percent, delivered 254 points.

Josh Bertrand was a favorite in this bucket with 19.9 percent, and he ended with 215 points.

E: Omori

Takahiro Omori was the best pick in Bucket E with 285 points. He was owned by 19.2 percent of players.

Right behind him in points was the most popular pick of the bucket, Classic champ Casey Ashley. Ashley was the favorite with 23.1 percent of players, and he earned 272 points.

The biggest disappointment in the bucket was Kevin Hawk, owned by 10.7 percent of players. He earned 149 points, which put his owners more than 100 points behind the 48 percent of players who had chosen the two most popular picks (Omori and Ashley).

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6 Responses to Front Page

  1. Also would like to thank April Phillips , I received Fantasy Fishing hat and tee shirt. Just in time for Toledo Bend …Buck This is a fun game to play and does not coast , just little time , Thanks to all B.A.S.S. Bass master Owners and Staff Great Job . Buck

  2. when do 2013 season start?

  3. Myer Yanofsky says:

    I live in Canada, Utopia, New Brunswick and I find this is the greatest way to pass the winter fishing….. and can make some money if you pick the right pros…… keep up the good work……

  4. would but can’t find out when it starts.

Comments are closed.