Editor’s Note: Todd Witt has been a Strike King pro for many years and is a fishing guide, often taking writers and clients fishing for Strike King on Pickwick Lake on the Tennessee/Mississippi/Alabama border. Witt is one of the men who helps set-up the Strike King booth at the Bassmaster Classic and provides information for consumers there about Strike King’s lures and products.

When you attend the 2011 Classic, which takes place from February 18th through the 20th in New Orleans, Louisiana, you can meet and get to know Todd Witt, who will be in the Strike King booth throughout the entire tournament. Because of his long relationship with Strike King, Todd knows the Strike King pros and the products and the tactics that can help you catch more bass on Strike King lures.

Part 1: Who May Win the 2012 Bassmaster Classic and Why with Todd Witt

Kevin VanDamQuestion: Todd, which one of the Strike King pros do you expect to place high or possibly win the Classic and why?

Witt: I believe that Kevin VanDam can win the Classic again for Strike King. To be honest, my decision was really close between Kevin and Greg Hackney, a Louisiana native. I won’t be surprised if either one of them takes first place, but I still have to pick Kevin for first place. Kevin is the number-one bass fisherman in the world, and he consistently proves it. He won the 2010 Classic and the 2010 Angler-of-the-Year title. No one adapts to water, weather and fishing conditions faster than Kevin does. I believe at this year’s Classic there may be a lot of changing conditions.

When you get down to the top 50 fishermen in all of the bass-fishing world, you know that any one of them can find a big school of bass, pull a rabbit out of the hat, and win this tournament. Mainly what separates the winners from the losers is their mental aspects of the game, and that’s where Kevin is rock solid. Even being 2 pounds behind in the last minute of the last day, on any tournament, on any lake in the country, Kevin still has the mental toughness to possibly win. You’ve also got to remember that Kevin has won a Classic before at the Louisiana Delta. He is familiar with the waterway, and he understands how the tides, winds and other weather conditions affect bass on this body of water. Even though we have four of Strike King’s best pros fishing in this Classic, and any one of them is a threat to win, I lean toward Kevin VanDam taking first place.

Greg HackneyQuestion: Ok, who is your second pick, and why?

Witt: I mentioned him earlier, and it’s Greg Hackney. I think this tournament can be won flipping, and Hackney is as good at flipping a jig or soft plastic as anyone else who will be in this tournament. Too, Greg lives in Louisiana, and I'm sure he has spent a lot of time in the Delta, fishing and talking to other people who fish the Delta. Hackney also has the pressure of being the hometown favorite, and I believe he has a strong shot to win based on his ability to perform the tactics that will probably win the tournament. Because he is expected to win, plus his knowledge of the water, fishing conditions, and his competitiveness, I can’t leave Greg Hackney out.

Question: Todd, who is your number-three pick?

Witt: This is one guy who can really steal the tournament, and not many people will see him coming. Shaw GrigsbyShaw Grigsby is a competitor who’s always in the race and always finishes well. Shaw always has a smile on his face, and even though he has a television show, many people don’t know what a good fisherman he actually is. As good as Shaw is, it’s hard for me to pick him third, especially in a four-horse race. But Shaw is an excellent shallow-water fisherman, and so this tournament does lean toward his strengths.

Too, because Shaw lives in Florida and has a great deal of experience fishing tidal waters, this will give him a bit of an edge. He’s also a very-versatile fisherman, having caught bass in New York, South Florida and everywhere in-between. I may have made a mistake by not ranking Shaw higher, since he’s really been successful in the tournaments this year. Shaw is also an excellent flipper. If the water is clear enough for Shaw to see the fish, he will catch them, because he is a productive sight fisherman. I'm expecting a lot from him at this year’s Bassmaster Classic, and he may sneak-in and win it.

Mark DavisQuestion: The only Strike King pro left is Mark Davis. What do you think about Mark?

Witt: Again, it’s hard to pick Mark Davis as fourth, because he too is such a good fisherman. Mark has won the Bassmaster Classic and the Angler-of-the-Year title, and he is a perennial Classic contender. In my opinion, Mark is this year’s “come-back kid.” Mark had a terrible year last year, and this year he has made the Classic. But the reason I'm picking Mark fourth is that I don’t really feel that the Louisiana Delta plays to Mark’s strengths. I think Mark is strongest fishing a crankbait, a river system or a lake with deep ledges, and of course that’s not what you will find on the Louisiana Delta. Like all other fishermen who have qualified for this year’s Classic, Mark is extremely versatile. He can use all the techniques that will be required to win here.

Todd WittAnother advantage for him in this year’s Classic is that Mark won’t have nearly as high a profile as Kevin VanDam, Greg Hackney, Skeet Reese and some of the other tournament fishermen who have received a lot of publicity. Therefore he won’t have as many boats following and chasing him as the other competitors do. He may be able to fish much-less water that hasn’t been disturbed by a lot of boat traffic. Just because Mark is quiet, hasn’t received a lot of publicity and probably doesn’t have the spectator pressure that some of the more-visible contestants will have, don’t count him out. Like Shaw Grigsby, he’s a proven competitor who can steal the show.

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