Fantasy Fishing: Are You Ready?

To win a trip to Mexico's famed El Salto, you need to be a BASS Insider member as of midnight on February 21, 2008 through midnight on August 10, 2008. 

The fantasy sports craze unofficially began in 1980 at a New York City restaurant called La Rotisserie Francaise. That's where a group of baseball fanatics gathered to eat and discuss their favorite sport.

Arguing over who had the greatest knowledge of the game led them to take things to the next level. They decided to "draft" their own teams and follow those players' statistics throughout the season. The owner of the team with the best numbers at the end of the year was declared the winner and a new pastime began.

Today there are fantasy leagues for baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf and just about any other sport you can think of, including fishing. That's where Fantasy Fishing on Bassmaster.com comes in. Here you can test your knowledge of the Elite Series pros and the waters they fish against friends, family, fishing buddies and other fishing fanatics. Along the way, you can win prizes, including a trip to fabulous Lake El Salto in Mexico for you and a fishing friend of your choice.

Ready to get started? It's easy and open to anyone 13 years of age or older who is not an employee or agent of BASS, its parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising agencies or members of their immediate families. Of course, BASS employees and their family members can play — they're just not eligible for the prizes. Check the OFFICIAL RULES for the details.

First, you'll need to access the game. For that, just log onto Bassmaster.com and click on the "Community" tab. From there, click on "Fantasy Fishing," and you're in. There you can check out the rules, see the upcoming tournament schedule and create your entry. Registration is free, and you can win PRIZES for playing. But to win that trip to El Salto, you need to be a BASS Insider member as of midnight on February 21, 2008 through midnight on August 10, 2008.

To join BASS Insider, just go to Bassmaster.com, click on the "BASS" tab and then again on "BASS Insider." You can join right away or take advantage of the 30-DAY FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP. Remember, only BASS Insiders are eligible to win the trip to Lake El Salto.

You're going to want to sign up before the deadline because you'll need to select your team in time for the Bassmaster Classic. Your team's performance in the Classic will be included in your season tally and will go toward your standings and chance to win prizes.

Now for the real details on playing the Fantasy Fishing game:

You're going to select a 5 angler team or roster from the upcoming Bassmaster Classic and Elite Series who will be doing the fishing for you. Each of these anglers has been given a Market Value. The higher that value, the greater that angler's worth is deemed to be in the game. Lower values typically mean that the angler hasn't had a great deal of recent success or that he is a rookie or fairly new to the tournament trail. These values are not determined by estimating the anglers' chances of winning an individual tournament.

The total value for your 5 anglers cannot be greater than 50. You can choose any 5 anglers who keep your total value under 50 but most players will try to max out their values on the theory (generally a good one), that the more value you can squeeze out of your selections, the greater the chance you'll win.

Keep in mind that the highly valued (or "expensive") picks like Skeet Reese and Kevin VanDam are going to be represented on a lot of teams. That means it'll be the mid-range and low-range anglers who really make the difference between one team and another. Everyone knows Reese and VanDam are good and likely to perform well at virtually any tournament. It's the fantasy players who can distinguish between the other guys who are going to win.

Keep an eye on the Market Values of your anglers. If you select an angler for your team and get him when his Market Value is 10, you can keep him at that value for as long as he stays on your team. If his value goes up and you release him, you can only reacquire him at his new (increased) value. On the other hand, if his value goes down but you still want to keep him on your team, you'll want to release him at the higher value and reacquire him at the newly reduced value.

So how do you pick the right guys? Well, just like fishing, it's part art and part science. The science comes from studying recent tournament histories on the waters the anglers will be fishing.

For example, the pros last fished the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida back in 2004 and 2005. Those tournaments were won by Marty Stone and Peter Thliveros, respectively, so both those anglers deserve a serious look when you select your team.

The art part of the selection process comes when you start guessing what sorts of baits or techniques are going to win a particular tournament. Florida waters are typically grassy, and anglers who like to flip and pitch or throw lipless crankbaits over the vegetation may fare well. And, since the Harris Chain tournament is in early March, there could be a lot of spawning bass caught. Consider drafting an angler or two who's known for sight fishing — perhaps Shaw Grigsby or Preston Clark.

Finally, you may want to consider the "home cooking factor." While it's not often that a pro wins on his home lake (they spend so much time on the road that they rarely get to fish there), they're usually a pretty good bet to do well and give you some points, so keep the local anglers in mind.

Your team must be in place no later than 9:00 a.m. on the day the tournament starts. No changes are permitted after that time.

Points are awarded to your team just as they are awarded for the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. In addition, if one of your anglers catches the big bass of the day, he'll earn you 10 more points. You'll get another 10 points if one of your anglers catches the heaviest bag of the day. Five points go to every angler who brings in a limit. If an angler weighs in no fish one day of the event, five points are taken away.

If you're good enough or lucky enough to post the best score of all the BASS Insiders playing Fantasy Fishing this year, you'll win a trip for two to the Anglers Inn Resort at Lake El Salto, Mexico, which will include round-trip airfare from the nearest major airport, 4-night/3-day lodge accommodations, 3 daily meals and fishing expenses which consist of boat rental, gasoline and fishing guide (excluding tackle, rods/reels, transfers, tips & incidentals). The approximate retail value of this prize is $6,000!

Sign up now!