By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor


(Editor's note: This is part 2 of BassFan's annual Bassmaster Classic field breakdown with information on every angler who'll compete in the 49th annual event on the Tennessee River out of Knoxville, Tenn. Anglers are listed alphabetically. For part 1, click here.)

Justin Lucas – Guntersville, Ala.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (1st)
> Classics fished: 3
> Best Classic finish: 9th (2015)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: 40th (2010 FLW Tour)
> Current world rank: 8th
> Insight: After a superb 2018 campaign on the Elite Series, his momentum has been slowed a bit by lackluster finishes in the first two Bass Pro Tour events. However, one of his strengths is is cold water, so he can't be ruled out.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Aaron Martens – Leeds, Ala.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (6th)
> Classics fished: 19
> Best Classic finish: 2nd (2002, 2004, 2005, 2011)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 15th
> Insight: It was always just assumed that the four-time Classic runner-up would eventually win one, and this could be his last chance due to his transfer to the Bass Pro Tour. He's very good at making daily adjustments, which will likely be a necessity in this one.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Andy Montgomery – Blacksburg, S.C.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (23rd)
> Classics fished: 3
> Best Classic finish: 36th (2011)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: 24th (2010 FLW Tour), 7th (2008 FLW Tour)
> Current world rank: 47th
> Insight: He has a considerable amount of experience on the venue and it's treated him pretty well. He hasn't tasted much success in the Classic, but he could be a big factor if the fish are stacked up in the backs of creeks.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.



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

Cliff Pace, the 2013 Classic champion, has a formidable record in pre-spawn events.

Cliff Pace – Petal, Miss.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (25th)
> Classics fished: 7
> Best Classic finish: 1st (2013)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 44th
> Insight: He's a strong pre-spawn angler and with his Classic win six years ago, he proved that he can perform on the biggest stage. He's finished 16th or better in five of his seven Classics and it'd be no surprise to see him among the contenders in this one.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Brandon Palaniuk – Hayden, Idaho
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (8th)
> Classics fished: 8
> Best Classic finish: 2nd (2013)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 13th
> Insight: He challenged from the win in a Professional Anglers Association event at Loudoun-Tellico in 2013 and reportedly spent a lot of time on the venue back in those days. Definitely a guy to keep an eye on.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Garrett Paquette – Canton, Mich.
> Qualified through: Eastern Open points
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: The 24-year-old Elite Series rookie is admittedly a guy who'll have to work to keep from getting caught up in the pomp and circumstance of the event. His pre-tournament odds would be long.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Randy Pierson – Oakdale, Calif.
> Qualified through: B.A.S.S. Nation
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: Like Pierson, he's a guy stepping into an environment that won't be familiar to him. Advancing to the final day (top 25) would probably be looked upon as a nice accomplishment.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Clifford Pirch – Payson, Ariz.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (28th)
> Classics fished: 5
> Best Classic finish: 13th (2015, 2018)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: 21st (2010 FLW Tour), 38th (2008 FLW Tour), 52nd (2007 FLW Tour)
> Current world rank: 28th
> Insight: He might find that Loudoun-Tellico, in its current state, fishes somewhat similar to the Western desert lakes that he dominates on. If that's the case, he could be right in the mix come Sunday.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Keith Poche – Pike Road, Ala.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (36th)
> Classics fished: 1
> Best Classic finish: 3rd (2012)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 72nd
> Insight: He's been around the pro scene for quite a while now, but this is just his second appearance in the Classic. He made a lot of noise in the first one, but that setup on the Red River was a far different scenario than this one. Traditionally not at his best in the pre-spawn.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

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

Jacob Powroznik's Classic sample size is limited, but it's fairly impressive.

Jacob Powroznik – North Prince George, Va.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (7th)
> Classics fished: 4
> Best Classic finish: 5th (2015, 2018)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: 37th (2010 FLW Tour), 42nd (2008 FLW Tour), 42nd (2007 FLW Tour).
> Current world rank: 34th
> Insight: His Classic sample size is limited, but with three top-12s in four outings, it's pretty impressive. Not a guy to count out.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Nick Ratliff – Elizabethtown, Ky.
> Qualified through: Bassmaster Classic College Bracket
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: It's rare for the college entrant to be a factor in the Classic, with Jordan Lee's 6th-place showing in 2014 a notable exception. Contention would come as a surprise to most.

Skeet Reese – Auburn, Calif.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (31st)
> Classics fished: 18
> Best Classic finish: 1st (2009)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 36th
> Insight: He's been in a bit of a competitive funk since early last summer and has just one top-15 finish in a Classic since his victory at the Red River a decade ago. Never a guy to turn your back on, but not among the heavy favorites at this point.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Matt Robertson – Kuttawa, Ky.
> Qualified through: Bassmaster Team Championship
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: Doesn't lack confidence – he wore a hat that read "On 'Em" en route to winning the Bassmaster Team Championship in December and said that he was eager to show the bigger names in the Classic field what he could do. His opportunity to do that has arrived.

Dean Rojas – Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (10th)
> Classics fished: 15
> Best Classic finish: 4th (2004, 2015)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 43rd
> Insight: He's been a factor in the Classic on several occasions and is always a guy to watch. Loudoun-Tellico wouldn't seem to present an ideal setup for him, but he could easily latch onto something that would put him in the hunt.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Bradley Roy – Lancaster, Ky.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (3rd)
> Classics fished: 2
> Best Classic finish: 7th (2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 11th
> Insight: This is a guy who turned pro at a very young age and struggled for a while, but has greatly improved over the past several seasons. He wouldn't be considered a top-echelon favorite at this point, but a high finish wouldn't be a shocker.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Gerald Spohrer – Gonzales, La.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (12th)
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 27th
> Insight: He's become a proficient pro competitor over the past couple of years by employing a "don't bomb" mentality at each event. He may have to throw that level of caution to the wind in his debut at the Classic, which is generally an all-or-nothing affair.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

B.A.S.S./Chris Mitchell
Photo: B.A.S.S./Chris Mitchell

Big things will be expected this week from Tennessee native Wesley Strader.

Wesley Strader – Spring City, Tenn.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (35th)
> Classics fished: 2
> Best Classic finish: 28th (2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: 34th (2010 FLW Tour), 32nd (2008 FLW Tour), 35th (2007 FLW Tour)
> Current world rank: 29th
> Insight: He has a lifetime's worth of experience on the Tennessee River and much more than most of the field at Loudoun-Tellico. He was a non-factor in his first two Classic appearances, but that should change in this one. A lot of eyes will be on him.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Gerald Swindle – Guntersville, Ala.
> Qualified through: Elite Series Bracket Championship
> Classics fished: 17
> Best Classic finish: 3rd (2005)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 45th
> Insight: His 10th-place finish in last year's Classic was far and away his best since the event moved to the late winter/early spring in 2006. He's a superb junk-fisherman, though, and that could pay off this week.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Frank Talley – Temple, Texas
> Qualified through: Eastern Opens points
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: From a fishing perspective, not much is known yet about the big, affable Texan who's in his rookie year as a pro. He'll likely be a fun guy to follow if he gets off to a good start.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Randall Tharp – Port St. Joe, Fla.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (32nd)
> Classics fished: 4
> Best Classic finish: 5th (2014)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 30th
> Insight: The former Forrest Wood Cup winner is primarily known as a flipper/pitcher, but he's pretty versatile and usually maximizes the potential of what he uncovers. If he finds the right fish, he should be able to put a lot of them in the boat.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Kevin VanDam – Kalamazoo, Mich.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (14th)
> Classics fished: 27
> Best Classic finish: 1st (2001, 2005, 2010, 2011)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 20th
> Insight: This might be his last shot at breaking the tie with Rick Clunn for most Classic victories and, as always, he'll go all out to make it happen. The conditions should be quite favorable for his fast-paced attack.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Brad Whatley – Bivins, Texas
> Qualified through: Central Open points
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: N/A
> Insight: The 38-year-old tour-level rookie has already displayed some versatility with finishes in the 20s in Elite Series events at the St. Johns River and Lake Lanier. Probably not a guy who'll be overly affected by the Classic hype.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jacob Wheeler – Harrison, Tenn.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (9th)
> Classics fished: 2
> Best Classic finish: 7th (2018)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 5th
> Insight: A guy who's already done a lot of winning across multiple circuits at age 28, he's definitely one to watch in this event. He understands Tennessee River fishing and his arsenal contains the tools for just about any condition.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jake Whitaker – Fairview, N.C.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (27th)
> Classics fished: 0
> Best Classic finish: N/A
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 110th
> Insight: The 2018 Elite Series Rookie of the Year hasn't fared well in the early part of the year as a pro. His fortι is shallow-water power-fishing with frogs and topwaters, and those likely won't be big players this week.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Jesse Wiggins – Cullman, Ala.
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (26th)
> Classics fished: 2
> Best Classic finish: 33rd (2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 87th
> Insight: He was also-ran in his two Classic appearances to date and has struggled this year on the Bass Pro Tour. He doesn't have a lot of momentum in his favor, but always keeps an open mind. He'll need some things to break right for him to get into the mix.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.

Chris Zaldain – Fort Worth, Texas
> Qualified through: Elite Series points (20th)
> Classics fished: 3
> Best Classic finish: 23rd (2017)
> Tour-level finishes at Loudoun-Tellico: N/A
> Current world rank: 41st
> Insight: He's a very well-rounded angler who's yet to break through for his first tour-level win – he came real close last month at the Lake Lanier Elite Series. He hasn't tasted any Classic success yet, but that's bound to change at some point.
> View his BassFan Angler Profile here.