The 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series is drawing to an end and the battle for the Angler of the Year title is Greg Hackney’s to lose. The 2014 award-winner has a great chance to extend his lead next week when the series makes its second-ever stop at Cayuga Lake in upstate New York.
Back when Cayuga first hosted a Bassmaster Elite event (2014), Hackney crushed the field by shying away from the shallows he usually favors and fishing in the depths. The best fish were supposed to be way up north in the shallows, but Hackney’s gambit paid huge dividends as he scored big hauls on every day of the competition, amassing 85 pounds total by the end of Sunday and taking home $100K for his efforts.
Todd Faircloth was the best of the rest, but was almost ten pounds back of Hackney when all was said and done. Chris Zaldain, Edwin Evers, and Jared Lintner rounded out the top-five; all three had 70-plus-pound hauls.
Kevin VanDam had a rare off-tournament the last time he was at Cayuga, failing to cash. But the living legend remains among our favorites for 2016. He’ll know the terrain better this time around and will put his knowledge to good use, as always.
With 108 contenders slated to compete, no one’s odds are terribly short. Chance is always the biggest factor when you gather this many ultra-talented anglers on one lake. But Cayuga (and its ample shallows and few ledges) undoubtedly caters to Hackney’s strengths, so he sits atop our pre-tournament odds.
Cayuga Lake Bassmaster Elite Odds
Greg Hackney: 13/1
Kevin VanDam: 14/1
Edwin Evers: 15/1
Todd Faircloth: 18/1
Brandon Palaniuk: 18/1
As mentioned, the lake caters to Hackney’s preferred style. Yes, he won in the depths last time, and there should still be quality fish in the long grass. But expect Hackney to move to the shallows this time around as everyone knows the fish are more spread out than previously thought.
There’s nothing in particular that puts KVD second in the odds. Well, nothing beyond everything he’s done in his career.
Edwin Evers is having another strong year; he won the 2016 Bassmaster Classic and is 11th in the AOY standings. Throw in his fourth-place at Cayuga last time and you’ve got yourself a decent bet for 2016.
Faircloth is just mid-pack in the standings, but his talents are undeniable and he put them to good use in 2014’s tournament, bagging second-place. He and Palaniuk, who’s always swinging for the fences, round out the top-five. Palaniuk had the early lead at Cayuga last time and finished the event in the top-ten.
Since I’m only doing a top-five, the field has by far the best odds. Anytime you get this many of the top guys together, it’s really anyone’s game. And with Cayuga boasting both smallmouth and largemouth and a variety of environments, everyone should find something they like.
Winning weigh-in (total): over/under 77 pounds
Don’t count on anyone breaking 80 pounds. Hackney got lucky last time. He wasn’t challenged in his main spot because the general consensus was that the best fishing would be in the shallows. No one is going to be so isolated this time around. At least, no one with Hackney’s resume. No one else topped 76 pounds last time, but that was everyone’s first tournament on the lake. Increased knowledge of the waters should mean slightly increased hauls, on average.
(Photo credit: Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)