UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. — After a fantastic Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing event on the Delaware River, I hope to keep it rolling as the Elites head farther north to Cayuga Lake.
Last event, I stuck to the river rats and cashed in more than 1,100 points, 200 more than the average score. This event is different because I don’t know much about Cayuga, but from what I’ve heard, largemouth may be the way to go for the better weights. I expect many mixed bags of smallmouth and largemouth to propel anglers into the Top 12.
Take Justin Lucas …
… but keep an eye on Cliff Crochet.
Justin Lucas excels at Southern fisheries, and he proved it early in the season. Although Cayuga is a Northern finger lake, I fully expect it to be a grass tournament. Grass should dictate the bite, and Lucas is not new to fishing in and around the green stuff.
Cliff Crochet is having a fantastic season and now he gets to pick up his frog rod (as if he ever put it down) and attack the shallows like Dean Rojas did a few years ago on Oneida Lake. In and on top of the grass should be the way to go this week.
Take Brett Hite …
… but keep an eye on Randy Howell.
Even though the Chatterbait is perceived as a prespawn lure, Brett Hite is so in-tune with this technique that he can make it work wherever and whenever he sees fit. Shallow grass is perfect for this technique, but in his win on Lake Seminole earlier this year, Hite targeted a little deeper grass because it was a highway for those incoming and outgoing bass. I expect the same this event for the Arizona pro.
Randy Howell is one of the best junk fishermen, and he seems to grind it out no matter where the Elites travel. I’m not saying Howell will win this event, but he is a safe bet to do well. The Delaware River threw a wrench in many anglers’ seasons, including Howell’s — he finished 76th. I expect a bounce-back event for the reigning Classic champ.
Take Fred Roumbanis …
… but keep an eye on Brandon Lester.
Fred Roumbanis knows how to fish a frog — very well. Same deal with some of the other picks, he fishes around grass very well, and I think he is even more motivated than normal. With a 17th-place finish on the Delaware and his new membership in the B.A.S.S. Millionaires Club, his sights are set on the Top 50 in the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings. To fish the final event in Michigan, anglers need to be in the Top 50; he is in 60th. Even though it seems so far away, Roumbanis can jump into contention with another Top 20 finish.
Brandon Lester is sixth in the Rookie of the Year standings, but he is actually the first genuine rookie who appears on the list. Anglers like Jacob Powroznik, Chad Morgenthaler, Brett Hite, Justin Lucas and Randall Tharp came from FLW and other series to fish the Elites. So for Lester to jump into the highest and most competitive series there is and be 46th in the AOY standings says a lot. I think he will fish his strengths and come away with a good finish and punch his ticket to Escanaba.
Take Hank Cherry …
… but keep an eye on Brent Chapman.
Hank Cherry has had an up-and-down season thus far, but last year’s Rookie of the Year is still a force to be reckoned with in specific tournaments. He is arguably the best jerkbait fisherman in the Elite Series field and during last year’s All Star week event he showed why…winning the tournament. I think he could find a way to be successful with his favorite technique on Cayuga as well.
Former Angler of the Year Brent Chapman is due for a really good finish to end this season. His last 50-cut was at Toledo Bend. I expect him to be one of the anglers to weigh in a mixed bag of smallmouth and largemouth each day of this event.
Take Grant Goldbeck …
… but keep an eye on Boyd Duckett.
There is something in my gut saying that Grant Goldbeck will be successful this week on Cayuga Lake. It has been a struggle this season, but every year you can expect everything to go right for an unsuspecting angler. I think Goldbeck can do it up North. He is used to fishing plenty of grass around the Potomac River area, and sometimes a shot in the dark hits the target. Plus the percentage of owners is low, so a Top 50 finish will bump his owners up higher than others.
I would pick Boyd Duckett here because of his recent success, but it’s one of those “when will it end?” kind of trends. Duckett called himself out this summer about poor finishes and then he did well at BASSfest and notched a Top 12 on the Delaware River. So things are looking up for the former Classic champ.