UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Erie

2001 Wal-Mart FLW Championship predictions

Experts weigh-in on pro field, highlight pre-tournament favorites

With the start of the highly-anticipated 2001 Wal-Mart FLW Championship only a few days away, bass-fishing enthusiasts across the nation continue to debate one of the most talked about questions of the season: Who will walk away with the top prize of $250,000 at the year-end FLW tournament on Lake Champlain. While everyone has an opinion, few seem better prepared to predict the outcome than the professional anglers themselves. So, in an effort to bring our readers some of the most insightful commentary possible, OperationBass.com contacted four FLW pros who did not make the Top-50 cut and asked them to give their opinion on the upcoming championship. Here is a sample of what they had to say.

Scott Martin, FLW pro from Clewiston, Fla. "Anytime you put Kevin VanDam around smallmouth, he's always going to be a pretty good threat to win the tournament. Larry Nixon, another great smallmouth bass fisherman, could be a big factor as well. As far as good, sleeper picks go, Aaron Martens is a guy who could do very well in this tournament. You need to keep your eye on him for sure. Peter Thliveros is another angler who could be up there. He's done pretty well in most of the tournaments he's fished in upstate New York - including the ESPN Great Outdoor Games - and I think he could fish very well at Lake Champlain. I've also got a feeling that Mike Iaconelli could surprise some people at this tournament. He's a great fisherman and he's done very well on this lake before."

Marty Stone, FLW pro from Linden, N.C. "I have two picks that people need to look out for. My first angler is Clark Wendlandt. Anytime he gets around an area where there are smallmouth bass, he's going to be in contention. And the way he's fishing right now and the level his game is at, he should do very well. My second pick is Gerald Swindle. And the reason I'm picking him is because he's on a roll right now. He's been to this body of water several times, he knows what to look for and he knows how to come to the scale with a winning stringer. Personally, I'd take those two guys and go straight to Vegas."

Carl Svebek, FLW pro from Sam Rayburn, Texas. "This is going to be really tough to predict. Lake Champlain is one of the top bass-fishing lakes in the country, so just about anything could happen. However, that being said, I think it's going to come down to the guy who works the hardest and has the most experience. Using those criteria, you have to say that Kevin VanDam, Larry Nixon and Peter Thliveros are the frontrunners. But if I had to pick one guy who is going to be gritting his teeth all the way to New York, determined to win this thing outright, I'd have to say it's Clark Wendlandt. I know one day doesn't go by without Clark thinking about winning the FLW Championship. And he's kicked my butt all year, so I'd definitely have to pick him. But there are just so many great fishermen competing that I think anything could happen out there on Lake Champlain."

Wes Thomas, FLW pro from Hanover, Ind. "Well, you have your big guns like Rick Clunn and Kevin VanDam, who is obviously on a big roll. But it wouldn't surprise me to see someone, who isn't an everyday name, win the tournament. I think someone like Mike Iaconelli could do very well. Koby Kreiger and Wesley Strader are two other guys that have the ability to win this tournament. The final guy who comes to mind is Dale Teaney. He's a very strong fisherman and my guess is that he could do some real damage up there as well."

Tags: gary-mortenson  pre-tournament  2001-09-12-champlain 

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