Zona talks remaining 2014 Elites

Category: Tournament

 Apr 22nd, 2014 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Apr 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 AM

Mark Zona, host of the Bassmaster Elite Series on ESPN2 and Zona’s Awesome Fishing Show on the Outdoor Channel, is the perfect guy to go to for a little recap of the first leg of the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series season and a preview of what is to come. Why? Well for one he was a top-notch tournament angler, but more importantly he is with the Elite anglers all season and gets to know their strengths and weaknesses, both fishing-wise and mentally. 

Legend still swinging hard.

“When I was growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I would watch the old Bassmaster shows on TNN,” said Zona. “Two anglers really inspired me to get into bass fishing and eventually to where I am today. One is Larry Nixon. The other is Mark Davis. I also admired Tommy Biffle and Denny Brauer. I’ve been privileged to cover victories for both Biffle and Brauer. I haven’t been able to for Davis. However, during the last three Elite Series events, it has been a pleasure to see him rise to the top and perform at such a high level.

Can Mark Davis conquer the Elites? (Joel Shangle)

“The big question is, can Davis keep it going? He is a notoriously excellent post-spawn angler. The two Florida events were what I call squatter tournaments. Fisheries where you can fish one area. In fact, if you go back to last season on St. Clair, that was another squatter event and Davis did great there. Table Rock was really the only event where run-and-gun came into play so far. To see Davis perform at this level, leading the Angler of the Year (AOY) race, has been a pleasure. I think Mark Davis is the biggest story so far.”

FLW rookies rolling.

“This year, it’s not the Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race,” said Zona. “It’s the FLW Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race. The Top 5 in the race so far are all FLW Tour pros who qualified to fish the Elites this year. Honestly, you can look at that list and see a legitimate Angler of the Year list. They are rookies in name only, but they are some of the most dangerous anglers on the planet.”

Fear factor time for Davis.

“I do believe in karma and momentum,” said Zona. “I think Mark Davis has both things working for him right now, but he has, in my opinion, three guys behind him that are going to be the most dangerous, especially in the next three events. Todd Faircloth, Aaron Martens and Greg Hackney. I believe these three will be making a big run at the lead of the AOY.

“Out of those three, I think Faircloth is going to be the most dangerous. Faircloth is definitely the guy to fear the most.”

Look for big shifts both up and down the rankings in Philadelphia.

“I think the Delaware River will be the deciding factor on who wins AOY,” said Zona. “It is that x-factor urban event. There will be some big climbs up the ladder and serious slides down. Whoever survives and leaves that event in good shape heading into the AOY Championship in September is in position to be the top angler.

“You’ll see some guys rolling the dice and going for the title. The Elites are the best gamblers in the world. Whoever is in the lead heading into the last two events has a disadvantage in my opinion. They will often play it conservative like Edwin Evers did at the last event last year. Aaron Martens rolled the dice and won the AOY.

“Of course, that can work against you, too. Skeet Reese was in great position to win the AOY going into the final events of the year. He gambled on the St. Lawrence River event fishing an area that I’ve filmed several shows that is a great location. It normally produces huge bags. In fact, it isn’t very far from where Brandon Palaniuk won the event. Skeet just missed it and he slid down and out of the race to win the AOY. A slip like that is what I expect in Delaware from someone. The anglers fishing the Elites are so good, one slip and you’ll get your jaw broken.”

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