Fantasy Fishing: Grinders or scopers?

This year’s return to Tulsa for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmasters Classic presented by Jockey is about two calendar weeks later than the 2016 Classic and only a handful of the angler participants remain the same from eight years ago. Combine that with a very mild winter and spring without many major cold fronts and we could have a much different looking tournament this go around.

A mild warming trend leading up to the event should have water temperatures warm enough to get bass moving out of their wintering holes but cool enough to have them grouped up on their staging areas which should create some good fishing conditions and solid weights for this year’s pinnacle event.

If the steady warming trend continues there is a chance that the traditional Grand Lake spinnerbait and shallow cranking could keep the scopers honest through practice and the three tournament days. For those leveraging forward-facing sonar, I would key in on the anglers that are deadly with jigs and jerkbaits.


If it was not for a heroic final day by Edwin Evers in 2019 on Grand Lake, Jason Christie very likely is hunting for his second Bassmaster Classic trophy. Even with Christie’s 2022 Bassmaster Classic win on Hartwell, I am pretty sure he still feels there is unfinished business with this year’s event on one of his home ponds.

Hartwell Effect: There are undeniable synergies between the way Grand and Hartwell fish and anglers that place high in events on both fisheries. So if you don’t want to ride the Christie band wagon, flip a coin and take either Kyle Welcher or Luke Palmer for your Bucket A pick.


Kenta Kimura hails from Japan, but his roots in the United States tie long and deep to Grand Lake. Kimura has two Top 5 finishes in Bassmaster Opens on Grand Lake and has intimate knowledge of the fishery. Kimura got to experience the limelight fishing his first Bassmaster Classic last year in Knoxville, now he should be prepared to put the fishing first at Grand.

Banking on Chatterbaits: If you want to hitch your Fantasy Fishing wagon to a grinder, look no further than Brock Mosley. Mosley has fished the final day of all four Classics he has fished, and if a chatterbait plays strong he could be a wild card at Grand.


You can trace the start of Jay Przekurat’s professional career back to Grand Lake, where in 2019 he won a Bassmaster Open as a co-angler. He also capped off his 2021 Bassmaster Open with a 24th place which qualified for his 2022 rookie season on the Bassmaster Elites. Przekurat’s well rounded approach should serve him well at Grand Lake.

Wild Card: In the 2013 Grand Lake Classic a quiet journeyman angler went from unassuming check casher to top of the bass fishing world. Could Brandon Card repeat this feat in 2024 and propel his Bassmaster career into a new stratosphere? Card is a well rounded angler and Grand Lake should match up to his strengths.


The parallels between anglers that have success on both Lake Hartwell and Grand Lake are hard to ignore. You combine Justin Hamner’s no frills jig and jerkbait approach and his top 5 performance at the last Hartwell Classic, Hamner is a hard angler to bet against.

Ozark Gem: Cody Huff is largely one of the main anglers to put forward-facing sonar on the map for non-smallmouth venues. Huff calls the Ozark region lakes home and Grand Lake can fish like other well known Ozark fisheries. Grand was also the final stop of the 2021 Bassmaster Opens Central division where he finished eighth and qualified for the Elites. If the fish stay in more of a late winter pattern, Huff could be dangerous.


Last year Louis Monetti represented the Bassmaster College anglers well in the Knoxville Classic. The 2023 College Bracket winner is probably one of the most talented anglers emerging from the college ranks since the days of Jordan Lee. Easton Fothergill seems to catch them everywhere he goes on both the college series and the St. Croix Bassmaster Opens.

Shallow spinnerbait dark horse: Powell Kemp punched his ticket to the Grand Classic largely on the back of a shallow spinnerbait bite around bushes on Kerr Lake. If you can’t bring yourself to pick a scoper and want a super sneaky long shot pick, Kemp might be your angler.

Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge

Now onto the third event of season for the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge. This additional Fantasy Fishing game not only offers a fresh way to play the game, but a completely separate prize pool. Drain the Lake is an elimination or survivor style game where you can only use an angler once all season. 

 I strongly consider taking a hard look at a few of the Classic only anglers to be able to save other Elite pros for events down the road.

Here is my Bassmaster Classic Drain the Lake roster:

Luke Palmer
Jason Christie
Easton Fothergill
Kenta Kimura
Kyle Welcher
Brock Mosley
Hank Cherry
Jacob Powroznik