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Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Fantasy fishing can hook ya

By Tommy Sanders
Special to ESPNOutdoors.com — Feb. 15, 2007

Let me put it this way: I quit being a rabid NFL fan at about the age of 25.

No particular reason — there were just too many other distractions and I was tired of the Cowboys and the Steelers. Nothing personal.

Then about four years ago, I was asked to join a fantasy football league. I thought at the time, how am I going to stay interested in this? You mean I have to set a lineup for each and every game for 14 weeks? Come on.

Little did I know. After week one, it seemed that I spent all of my available brain space trying to get the upper hand and kick the you-know-what out of whichever team I was playing that week.

I was passionate about pro football again, for better or for worse. I really didn't need any more time-killers, but fantasy football was by far one of the most entertaining and still is.

Then last year, I got into a fantasy fishing league. Same song, second verse.

A whole lot of fun with plenty of trash talk and crow eating to go around. And, check this out — I finished second in my league! Of course, if I don't tell you it was a three-team league, someone else will, but I don't care.

It's just as consuming as fantasy football. I would change my lineup up to a dozen times before a tournament got under way. How sick. How great!

If you're thinking about taking the plunge, I say do it. You'll love it. I won't say you'll start leading your league immediately, but you'll soon be figuring things out and formulating a plan.

Can I offer some advice? I mean I did finish dead in the middle of my league, but it was a very tough league and my final average was in the top 20 percent of all players in all leagues. Plus, there definitely may have been some hanky panky going on with the winning team in my league. I'm still gathering evidence.

But, here are a couple of things to keep in mind.

Unless your league places extra weight on the Bassmaster Classic, and I've never heard of such, you must remember that it's a long season. The Classic is followed by 11 Elite Series events and 3 Majors. So it may be the big one, but for fantasy purposes it's only one of 15.

With that in mind, think about using to the Classic to put two superperformers on your team while they can still be afforded. Last year, a Kevin Van Dam or a Micheal Iaconelli were definitely cheaper before the season got going and they started racking up high finishes.

So, now may be the best time to pick up a 2007 model Edwin Evers or Greg Hackney.

Once the season is up and going, you have to be looking for sleepers.

To me, a sleeper is a guy who quietly racks up the high finishes, yet doesn't attract enough attention to warrant a rapid rise in market value. Last year that guy was Steve Kennedy. Who knows about this year?

Let's see, what else&? Well, you can't forget that momentum is big in Bass Fishing. When Kevin Van Dam won the Classic in Pittsburgh in 2005, it was the third of three wins in a row.

Research helps. Sometimes you can find a guy who has been in the top 10 or 20 on a lake the last two times he's been there, yet no one else seems to be taking much notice. That was the case with Morizo Shimizu at Kentucky Lake last year.

Of course, none of these tips will be of any use to you when the guy or gal down the hall who's never seen a bass tournament or even a bass before starts putting three out of five in the top five week in and week out. But surely that can't happen. Can it?