Bassmaster Classic Bracket Off To Interesting Start!

Kevin VanDam is off to a hot start. Under this new format, that could make him harder than ever to catch. photo courtesy B.A.S.S.

This would be ‘half time’ for our Classic Bracket anglers in matches #1 and #2. They will pick up the rods again tomorrow against the same opponents and carry today’s weight toward their 2-day total to determine who moves on to Thursday’s semifinal rounds.

Kevin VanDam trots to the locker room with a hefty lead over Elite Series rookie Drew Benton. KVD may not have a ton of experience on the Niagara River but he understands smallmouth – and bass, in general – better than most folks. He leads Benton by a weight of 10 pounds, 4 ounces (5 fish) to Benton’s single bass that weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces.

Under this unique format VanDam’s lead provides extra advantages. Unlike other Elite Series events, the Classic Bracket allows anglers to know what kind of weight their competitor – the only guy they need to beat during that round – has on the scoreboard.

This means that VanDam can watch how Benton does tomorrow and, unless the rookie who grew up fishing in the Florida Panhandle – hundreds of miles from the nearest smallmouth – can mount a charge, VanDam can lay off his best stuff and save it for Thursday.

That could make things really tough for Koby Kreiger or Jacob Powroznik. The two anglers had a combined total weight of 18 pounds, 12 ounces for each guy’s best 5 fish. They may have burned more fish culling up to that weight.

According to Steve Bowman of B.A.S.S., Powroznik had 45 seconds left on the clock when he swung a 2-pound, 3-ounce smallmouth aboard. That fish ran his weight to 9-14 and gave him a 1-pound advantage over Kreiger that he will carry into Wednesday’s competition.

That all happened this morning. This afternoon we are watching, via Bassmaster LIVE, Brett Hite vs Keith Combs and Jordan Lee vs Dean Rojas.

An hour into it Jordan Lee is the only angler to score so far. He has a 2-pound, 6-ounce fish to his credit.

The Niagra River is fishing a little slower than expected but it is sure to give off some fireworks this week. You can watch it all at and on Wednesday the entire sporting world can see our favorite game on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. – great exposure for our sport as we ‘test the waters’ with this new format.