By BassFan Staff

(Editor's note: This is part 3 of a 3-part series examining the field for the upcoming Bassmaster Classic at Lake Hartwell, with competitors listed alphabetically. To read part 1, click here. For part 2, click here.)

Mike McClelland -Bella Vista, AR
> Qualified through: Table Rock Lake Central Open winner
> Classics fished: 10
> Best Classic finish: 4th (Red River - 2009)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 8th (2015 Classic), 42nd (2008 Classic)
> Current world rank: 102
> Insight: He's back in the Classic after a 2-year hiatus and returns to a venue where he fared well last time albeit under much chillier conditions. He's known as a jerkbait guru, but he's an excellent shallow-water power-fisherman. He's probably one guy who wouldn't be too distressed to see a cold front blow in just ahead of the Classic.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Rick Morris - Bracey, VA
> Qualified through: James River Northern Open winner
> Classics fished: 5
> Best Classic finish: 2nd (Lake Toho - 2006)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: 343
> Insight: He's back in the Classic for the first time since 2014 after taking 3 years off from tour-level competition. His last to-10 finish in an Elite Series event occurred all the way back in 2010 and he has no pro experience at Hartwell, so it would be a surprise to see him near the top of the leaderboard.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Cliff Pace - Petal, MS
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 6
> Best Classic finish: 1st (Grand Lake - 2013)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 35th (2015 Classic), 2nd (2008 Classic)
> Current world rank: 51
> Insight: He finished 2nd to Alton Jones in the 2008 Classic at Hartwell and then won the event 5 years later, so he has proven mettle at both the venue and in the big derby. High finishes have been rare lately, as he has just one top-10 on the Elite Series since his Classic triumph. He quietly goes about his business and could be a factor if things break right.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.



B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Reigning Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk was stymied the last time the Classic visited Lake Hartwell.

Brandon Palaniuk - Hayden, ID
> Qualified through: B.A.S.S. Angler of the Year, Toyota Texas Fest winner
> Classics fished: 7
> Best Classic finish: 2nd (Grand Lake - 2013)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 53rd (2015 Classic)
> Current world rank: 2
> Insight: He seems like a guy who's destined to win at least one Classic, but Hartwell stymied him last time and he comes in off a poor showing in the Elite Series opener at Lake Martin. The Martin bomb was likely just an aberration, similar to his lousy start at Okeechobee in 2017. Could finish anywhere in the field from top to bottom.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Clifford Pirch - Payson, AZ
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 4
> Best Classic finish: 13th (Lake Hartwell - 2015)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 12th (2015 Classic), 19th (2012 FLW Tour), 64th (2011 FLW Tour)
> Current world rank: 40
> Insight: He turned in a solid performance in the last Hartwell Classic and, as one of the finest desert-lake fishermen in the game, he has vast experience in clear water. He's proficient in both shallow and deep water and doesn't get rattled mentally, which is a big key in the Classic. He definitely could be a factor.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jacob Powroznik - North Prince George, VA
> Qualified through: Bassmaster Classic Bracket winner
> Classics fished: 3
> Best Classic finish: 5th (Lake Hartwell - 2015)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 5th (2015 Classic), (2012 FLW Tour), 70th (2011 FLW Tour)
> Current world rank: 53
> Insight: He's been in a bit of a slump recently, but could come out of it quickly if a bunch of fish are on the beds at Hartwell. His sight-fishing skills are first-rate and he's also an excellent flipper and pitcher, so he can't be disregarded.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Skeet Reese hasn't been a major factor in a Classic since his win in 2009.

Skeet Reese - Auburn, CA
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 17
> Best Classic finish: 1st (Red River - 2009)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 17th (2015 Classic), 12th (2008 Classic)
> Current world rank: 25
> Insight: He hasn't been a real factor in a Classic since his victory in '09 finishing 30th or lower four times in seven appearances since. He's always a threat to put together several good days in a row, but he hasn't done it much recently. Knows how to win when the opportunity presents itself, so he can't be counted out. A strong shallow-water bite would help him.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Bradley Roy - Lancaster, KY
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 1
> Best Classic finish: 7th (Lake Conroe - 2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: 46
> Insight: It took him a long time to make his first Classic and now he's participating in his second in a row. A strong finish last year at Conroe proved that he wasn't overwhelmed by the big stage. He has a strong shallow-water game and should get a chance to utilize those skills.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Caleb Sumrall - New Iberia, LA
> Qualified through: B.A.S.S. Nation Championship winner
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: He figured out Hartwell last October en route to gaining his berth in this event and now he'll give it another go at a different time of year. He had a rough time in his Elite Series debut last month at Lake Martin, but so did some of the sport's biggest names. It'll be fun to see whether he can come close to duplicating his success from last fall.

Carl Svebek III - Orange, TX
> Qualified through: Sabine River Central Open winner
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: The likable former FLW Tour pro, a three-time Forrest Wood Cup competitor, will be making his Classic debut after being away from top-level competition for a decade. He has the shallow-water skills to put together strong bags if a lot of quality fish are hanging out near the banks. He can't be considered a favorite, but can't be written off entirely, either.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Gerald Swindle - Guntersville, AL
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 16
> Best Classic finish: 3rd (Three Rivers - 2005)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 27th (2015 Classic), 21st (2008 Classic)
> Current world rank: 21
> Insight: The two-time Angler of the Year just hasn't figured anything out in the Classic since its calendar move away from the late summer he's finished in the 50s in two of the last three and hasn't made the top-25 cut since 2010. Is this the year he reverses that trend? His season got off to a sluggish start (70th at Lake Martin), so momentum isn't on his side.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Stanley Sypeck Jr. - Sugar Loaf, PA
> Qualified through: Oneida Lake Northern Open winner
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: The 50-year-old gained his Classic berth with a summertime triumph on a Northern fishery. His forte' is pitching jigs and soft plastics, which could be a popular tactic at Hartwell. Making it to the final day would be a good showing.

Kevin VanDam - Kalamazoo, MI
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 26
> Best Classic finish: 1st (four times)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 3rd (2008 Classic)
> Current world rank: 7
> Insight: Will KVD win a fifth Classic to break the record he shares with Rick Clunn? Probably. Will it happen this year? Maybe. At age 50, he's still a threat to prevail every time he takes to the water. As always, his spectator contingent will be enormous, but he's adept at dealing with that aspect. If the tournament becomes a run-and-gun game, he should be right in the mix.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

David Walker - Sevierville, TN
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 11
> Best Classic finish: 3rd (Louisiana Delta - 2001; Lay Lake - 2003)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 38th (2015 Classic),
> Current world rank: 86
> Insight: He's adept at cranking and with a flipping stick, and he should get a chance to do both at Hartwell. It's been a couple years since he's had a single-digit finish in any event, but he has to be given a puncher's chance in this one. He didn't get on anything good the last time at Hartwell, but the upcoming scenario should be more to his liking.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito
Photo: B.A.S.S./Seigo Saito

Jacob Wheeler has a tendency to bounce back hard from a bad finish, which could make him dangerous at the Classic.

Jacob Wheeler - Harrison, TN
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 1
> Best Classic finish: 14th (Lake Hartwell - 2015)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: 14th (2015 Classic)
> Current world rank: 3
> Insight: His bad start to the season (95th at Lake Martin) makes him particularly dangerous for the Classic only four times as a pro has he finished 90th or worse in an event and on two of the three previous occasions he won or placed 2nd the next time out. His power-fisherman's mindset should bode well for him.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jesse Wiggins - Cullman, AL
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 1
> Best Classic finish: 33rd (Lake Conroe 2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: 80
> Insight: Sight-fishing isn't his gig, so he could be at a disadvantage if the shallows are teeming with big females involved with the reproduction process. If some good ones are hanging out away from the banks, however, he has the skills and the patience to put together some good bags. He's not the type to get spun out by all the Classic hoopla.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jason Williamson - Wagener, SC
> Qualified through: Elite Series points
> Classics fished: 2
> Best Classic finish: 21st (Lake Conroe - 2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Hartwell: None
> Current world rank: 58
> Insight: He's never fished a top-level event at Hartwell, but he has a vast reservoir of knowledge about the lake and has seen its fish in all of their seasonal modes. He's won twice on the Elite Series, so he's capable of going the distance if he comes across the right situation. He's a guy to keep an eye on, for certain.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.