Fantasy Fishing: Best Palatka picks

PALATKA, Fla. – The AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Series at St. Johns River played out as expected with giant bass weighed in and some really big weights, but this event was unique in its own right. After a shortened Day 1 of competition, there was plenty of opportunity to make a run back up the leaderboard the rest of the event. In other words, your Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team may have been down but not out early on the St. Johns River. 

With both prespawn and spawning fish factoring in the event, a wide variety of anglers were able to have success. In the end, the champion Bryan New was able to mix in both prespawn and spawning fish. Duplicating success for multiple days in a row seemed to be difficult if you didn’t mix it up.

Some of the more obvious picks such as Cliff Prince, Greg Hackney and Patrick Walters did well but many anglers who haven’t had much success at the St. Johns River were able to figure it out this time around. The Rookie class of the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series had a good showing at the first Elite Series event of the season. Six out of the nine rookies made the Day 3 cut.

Want to play Fantasy Fishing? Click here! Even if you missed the first event, there is still plenty of opportunity to win prizes the remainder of the year.

The Fantasy champion at the St. Johns River was “bigslim” who chose one pick shy of what would have been a perfect team.

Overall Rank: No. 1, total points 1,440

Bucket A: Patrick Walters, 330

Bucket B: Brandon Lester, 254

Bucket C: Derek Hudnall, 304

Bucket D: Cliff Prince, 272

Bucket E: Mark Menendez, 280

Total: 1,440

The perfect team would have been:

Bucket A: Patrick Walters, 330

Bucket B: Bryan New, 305

Bucket C: Derek Hudnall, 304

Bucket D: Cliff Prince, 272

Bucket E: Mark Menendez, 280

Total: 1,491


Patrick Walters led the event after Day 3, but fell short on Championship Sunday. Walters was played by 5.7% of players and scored 330 points.

Second best selection: Greg Hackney actually finished higher in the event, but lacked the bonus points that Walters had for Fantasy Fishing. Hackney was played by 14.5% of players and scored 295 points.

Lowest scoring angler: Jake Whitaker had a much tougher event at the St. Johns in 2021 than he had in 2020 where he finished 5th. Whitaker only scored 93 points for his 1% of players.


Elite Series Rookie Bryan New made a splash in his first ever Elite Series event. He won the event and scored 305 points for the 4.4% of players who chose him.

Second best selection: Brandon Lester narrowly missed the Final Day cut but still scored 250 points. Lester was played by 5.1% of Fantasy participants.

Lowest scoring angler: Todd Auten had a tough event at the St. Johns, only scoring 87 points for the 1.5% that picked him.


Derek Hudnall finessed his way to a Top 10 finish at the St. Johns River and rewarded the .9% that picked him with 304 points. Hudnall weighed in a 9 pound, 8 ounce giant on Day 1.

Second best selection: Hank Cherry notched a Top 10 finish as well, and scored 276 points. Cherry was selected by 5.8% of players.

Lowest scoring angler: Bob Downey only scored 101 after catching two fish shy of a limit on Day 2. Downey was played by .6% of players.  


No surprise that the Prince of Palatka was the highest points getter in Bucket D. It’s no secret that Cliff Prince will always be a good pick on the St. Johns River. Prince scored 272 points for the whopping 33.3% of players that selected him.

Second best selection: Bryan Schmitt only finished four points behind Cliff Prince in Bucket D. Schmitt scored 268 points for the 3.1% that played him.

Lowest scoring angler: Cody Hollen struggled in the first event of his sophomore season on the Elite Series. Hollen only scored 85 points for the .3% that played him.


Mark Menendez made a splash in his return to the Elite Series from a medical hardship in 2020. Menendez finished in the Top 10 and notched 280 points for the 14.9% that played him. 

Second best selection: Gary Clouse led the event Day 1 and 2 but fell off his pace the final two days of the event. Clouse scored 270 points and was played by 1.5% of players.

Lowest scoring angler: Rick Clunn did not score a single Fantasy point at the St. Johns River, a body of water that Clunn has historically had great success at. Clunn has won two of the last four Elite Series events at the St. Johns.