The 2013 Bassmaster Classic gets underway on Friday and finishes up on Sunday at Grand Lake O' the Cherokees in Oklahoma, featuring some of the greatest anglers in the world.
Chris Lane is the defending champion, but he has plenty of competition. The historic Kevin VanDam will be looking to win his fifth career Classic, while a rising local star seeks to make waves at the event.
Here's a look at my top five contenders for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, complete with analysis.
5. Aaron Martens
While Aaron Martens has never won the Bassmaster Classic, he has great experience in the event (13 appearances) and he's placed second four times. He qualified for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic by placing 10th in Angler of the Year (AOY) points and he seems to like Grand Lake O' the Cherokees (he's placed ninth and 15th in two previous Elite tournaments at the site).
4. Mike McClelland
I wouldn't be surprised if Mike McClelland won the Classic this year. He hasn't won it before, but this is his ninth appearance and he's had great success at Grand Lake, placing first and 11th in 2006 and 2007 respectively. He only finished 32nd in AOY points, but I think he brings his "A" game at a place he loves.
3. Jason Christie
First thing you need to know is that Jason Christie lives about an hour from Grand Lake. Oklahoma is pulling for the Park Hill native big-time and he already has two wins in eight career BASS tournaments. He qualified for the Classic by winning a Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Northern Open. He'll be a rookie at the Classic, but he knows the area and he showed great promise in 2012.
2. Edwin Evers
Edwin Evers is held in high regard throughout the nation. He doesn't have a Classic championship or an AOY title yet, but he's done just about everything else, with seven career victories on the BASS tour and 51 top 10 finishes. The Oklahoma native qualified for the event by placing eighth in AOY points and he's placed third and fourth at Grand Lake before.
1. Kevin VanDam
Kevin VanDam is one of only two four-time Classic winners in the tournament's history. He's undoubtedly the biggest fish in the Classic this year, widely regarded as the best angler in the business. This will be the Michigan native's 23rd career appearance in the Classic. He's a seven-time BASS Angler of the Year and he has 20 career wins and 98 top 10 finishes on tour.