MANY, La. — On May 1, the Bassmaster Elite Series pros will take off in the quest of winning the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend. The Elite Series has visited Toledo Bend twice before in mid-April 2011 and early June 2012. With as long as winter has hung around there may be some fish just coming off the bed, but look for the winner of this event to be targeting postspawn bass.
Therefore, your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team should be heavy on anglers who can grind out a solid limit when bass are in their postspawn funk.
Note that the Fantasy Fishing ownership percentages of the anglers discussed in this article are likely to change before the event kicks off next week.
Bucket A: Davis
Mark Davis has to be off to the best start to an Elite Series season ever. Davis has not won an event yet, but he has only missed five points through the first three events. Davis is also one of the best postspawn anglers on the Elite Series. Mark Davis took home a check the last two times the Elite Series visited Toledo Bend including a Top 12 finish in 2012. Davis is the fourth-most-owned angler in the Bucket A at 15.6 percent. Watch for Davis to carry his hot streak of consecutive Top 12 finishes to five after this event. (He ended 2013 with one on Lake St. Clair.)
Todd Faircloth is always a strong competitor anytime the Elite Series goes to a lake in Texas (Toledo Bend is on the Louisiana/Texas boarder). Two of Faircloth’s four wins have come on events in Texas. Faircloth is sitting in fifth in Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year (AOY) points, so he could use another strong event to move up the AOY leaderboard. Faircloth was also one of the most consistent anglers in the last two events on Toledo Bend, finishing 17th in 2011 and 15th in 2012. Watch for Faircloth to break through with his first Top 12 on Toledo Bend this time.
Faircloth was the first angler I thought of going into this event. The reason he is not on my Fantasy Fishing team is his ownership percentage. Faircloth is the most-owned angler in the bucket at 21.3 percent. If you do not mind taking the bucket favorites, Faircloth is a wise pick.
Ott DeFoe may seem like a dark horse pick for Bucket A at a 2.9 percent ownership, but he could be one of the safest picks in the end. DeFoe took home a check in the last two Toledo Bend events and just missed a Top 12 in 2012. He has excelled at almost every Elite Series stop since he joined the Elites. DeFoe could easily be the highest finisher of the entire bucket.
Bucket B: Herren
Matt Herren in Bucket B will be my true dark horse pick of the event. Herren is only owned by 0.6 percent of Fantasy Fishing players. If Herren can beat the others in the bucket, his owners can gain a lot of points over other players. Herren is sitting in 22nd in AOY standings and needs a solid event to stay in the Top 35 to qualify for the 2015 Bassmaster Classic. Herren finished eighth in 2012 and 38th in 2011 at Toledo Bend. Look for him to take another solid finish at Toledo Bend this year.
Timmy Horton’s last Top 12 came in 2012 on Toledo Bend. Horton finished sixth in that event and 47th in 2011 at Toledo Bend. He is sitting in 25th in AOY standings and needs a solid finish like Herren. At only 2.9 percent ownership, you can earn a lot of points by taking Horton if he has a strong event.
John Crews is always a name I overlook when deciding on my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, yet he seems to have a solid finish at each event. I am not overlooking Crews this time. Others seem to be overlooking him with only a 1.0 percent ownership. Crews took home a check the last two times the Elite Series visited Toledo Bend. He may not be the highest finisher in the bucket, but watch for him to end up being one of best. That can help you beat the majority of players even if he just beats the favorites for the bucket.
Bucket C: Roumbanis
Fred Roumbanis needs a strong event to get back in the hunt for a Bassmaster Classic spot through the AOY standings. Currently Roumbanis is 61st in AOY standings after a disastrous start at Lake Seminole. An event on Toledo Bend is just what he needs to turn his season around.
Roumbanis was fifth in 2011 and 21st in 2012 at Toledo Bend. A 3.1 percent ownership is low enough that choosing him would beat the majority of players if he finishes in the Top 12.
I am not sure the last time I talked about Marty Robinson for Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing, but his history the last two times on Toledo Bend makes him a strong choice for this event. Robinson was 18th in 2011 and improved to finish third in 2012. Robinson is owned by 4 percent of players. If you go with Robinson for your team, you may be dancing right along with him if he’s a top performer.
Terry Scroggins is one of the least-owned anglers in Bucket C at 2.5 percent, but he is almost as reliable for a solid finish as the others. Scroggins was 29th in 2011 and improved to finish 20th in 2012. Scroggins is sitting in 46th in the AOY standings, so he needs a good event to move up for a Classic spot. Scroggins may not have the best history on Toledo Bend, but he has two solid finishes. Scroggins is also a good pick for being all the way down in Bucket C.
Bucket D: Monroe
Two anglers make more than half the ownership in Bucket D, and Ish Monroe is one of them. Monroe is the second-most-owned angler in Bucket D at 27 percent. He is a bit of a high risk/high reward pick. Monroe took home a Top 12 on Toledo Bend in 2011 and was 50th in 2012.
Monroe is sitting in 80th in AOY points. It is a little early to think that he needs to win to qualify for the Classic, but the events are counting down. Hopefully, Monroe has an event more like in 2011 than 2012 to be one of the top anglers for this bucket.
Matt Reed took home a check in the 2011 Toledo Bend event. Reed missed a check in the 2012 event, but he is still a solid pick with a 4.8 percent ownership. Most of his Top 20 events in the past have come on lakes similar to Toledo Bend in the late spring and early summer. If you want to avoid a highly owned angler in this bucket, consider Reed.
Keith Poche did the opposite of Reed at Toledo Bend in the last two events. Poche just missed a check in 2011, finishing 52nd, and returned to Toledo Bend to finish 23rd in 2012. The fish should position themselves a little closer to how they were when the Elites visited Toledo Bend in 2012 than when they did in 2011. His rather low ownership — 5.4 percent— does not hurt either.
Bucket E: Zaldain
Chris Zaldain was not fishing the Elite Series when the Elites visited Toledo Bend in 2011. But he did fish it in 2012 and finished 12th. Zaldain has a 3.7 percent ownership, which seems low for an angler who earned a Top 12 in his one visit to Toledo Bend on the Elite Series.
Zaldain is having a rough season and could use Toledo Bend to make a charge up the AOY leaderboard to have a shot at the Bassmaster Classic.
Greg Vinson took home a Top 12 at Toledo Bend in 2011 and was one decent keeper away from making a check at the 2012 event. Vinson is having a bad season, but a 7 percent ownership still seems low considering Vinson is in Bucket E. I have a feeling Vinson will try to gamble and go for a win at this event to qualify for the Bassmaster Classic. This could result in a great finish and a ton of Fantasy Fishing points for anglers who take Vinson — or a total crash and burn of your team.
Scott Ashmore missed a check in the 2011 event at Toledo Bend, but he came back with a vengeance, just missing the 12-cut in the 2012 event. Ashmore is only owned by 1.6 percent of players, so he can make up a lot of points for your team if he is one of the best finishers in the bucket.
Remember to get your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team locked in before the event starts May 1. The person who chooses the best team for Toledo Bend wins $2,500 in Bass Pro Shops gift cards.