Fantasy Fishing: Weidler and Cox, unsung heroes at St. Clair

Macomb County, M.I. — Lake St. Clair proved to be a barnburner of an event. With only one-third of the playing field in the United States, the options were limited, but the fish were plentiful. This event yielded the most weight for a Top 40 cut spot compared to any event this season. More than Champlain, more than the St. Lawrence and possibly will be the highest of the year. Catching almost 36 pounds allowed anglers to fish on Day 3 of the event.

It was a fantastic week for anglers throughout the different areas in the playing field. Some were successful in Lake St. Clair, others found success in the St. Clair River and some did well in Anchor Bay. The best of them all, Bill Weidler, won his first Elite Series event in stellar fashion in front of an ESPN2 viewing crowd.

New to Fantasy Fishing? Sign up and play for free at BassmasterFantasy.com. Players win prizes at each specific event and there are prizes for overall winners at the end of the season as well.

The overall winner at Lake St. Clair was split between “Fasteddie4” and “Furreal” who picked three of the correct five anglers that made a perfect team. “Fasteddie4” had the closer tie-breaker weight of the four-day total, putting him on top.

Overall Rank: No. 1, total points 1,342 

Bucket A: Paul Mueller, 254

Bucket B: Cory Johnston, 295

Bucket C: John Cox, 345

Bucket D: Destin DeMarion, 243

Bucket E: Bill Lowen, 205

Total: 1,342

No one chose the perfect team. To be honest, none even got close, but if they did it would’ve been this 5-man group of anglers:

Bucket A: Clark Wendlandt, 285

Bucket B: Cory Johnston, 295

Bucket C: John Cox, 345

Bucket D: Cody Hollen, 268

Bucket E: Bill Weidler, 305

Total: 1,498

BUCKET A: WENDLANDT

The Northern Swing was a positive trip for Wendlandt. It featured two Top 10’s (8th at St. Lawrence, 4th at St. Clair), but it also featured a 46th at Champlain as he relinquished his Angler of the Year lead. A big-time bounce back at St. Clair allowed Wendlandt to retake his AOY lead as we head south for the final four events. 

Second best selection: Taku Ito won’t be a sleeper anymore. The Bassmaster Elite Series Rookie notched three-straight Top 10’s while up north and is positioned well in AOY (2nd) and is on top of the Rookie of the Year standings. The fact he and Wendlandt were only picked 1.4 percent and 1.7 percent respectively was amazing.

Lowest point performance: It pains me writing this, but Chad Pipkens was the worst pick in Bucket A. The Michigan native and St. Clair safe pick struggled and finished 80th overall, bumming out the 7.6 percent of folks who chose him (including me).

BUCKET B: CO. JOHNSTON

As Kansas fans would say, Rock Chalk. Cory Johnston was the chalk pick in Bucket B as 37 percent of Fantasy Fishing players chose him. It paid off big time as he finished 2nd overall and capped his northern swing with three Top 10’s as well. Johnston proved to be the smallmouth angler we knew he was.

Second best selection: Jake Whitaker didn’t have a lot of eyeballs on him when the Elites hit the northern swing, but Whitaker held his own. The two New York events were true survival tournaments for him as he struggled on Day 1 of both events and bounced back on Day 2’s. Two 51st place finishes kept him in the Classic cutline, a 5th place finish at St. Clair vaulted him into the Top 20 in points. The .2 percent of fantasy fishing players who selected him were pleased with his progression up the leaderboard each day of the event (34th, 16th, 9th, 5th). 

Lowest point performance: Even though he had great performance at St. Clair to end the 2019 season, it didn’t translate to 2020 for Cliff Prince. He struggled and finished 79th in this event, garnering only 117 points. 

BUCKET C: COX

John Cox was overwhelmingly the best pick in Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing. He led 3 days of the event (15-point bonus) and had the biggest bag of the event (40-point bonus). Even though Cox fell to 3rd on the Final Day, the veteran pro represented well in Bucket C.

Second best selection: Canadian Chris Johnston was the most selected angler overall and it paid off as he finished the event in 6th place. Over 56 percent of Fantasy Fishing players believed he would hold strong in Michigan like he did in New York and they were correct. He picked up 276 points in Fantasy Fishing.

Lowest point performance: The lowest performance in Bucket C was a peculiar one. Hank Cherry finished last in the event, but due to health reasons. The 2020 Bassmaster Classic Champion was hit with sea sickness and vertigo during practice. He fished until 1 p.m. on Day 1 and weighed in his weight. He then tried to do the same on Day 2 but wasn’t feeling good enough to do so. Thus, his one-day weight put him in 85th.

BUCKET D: HOLLEN 

The Oregon native and 2020 B.A.S.S. Nation representative on the Elite Series had a great week in Michigan. Elite Series Rookie Cody Hollen was one ounce off the lead heading into Championship Sunday, but finished the event in 8th overall. It was a great showing and his best career finish in five Elite Series events.

Second best selection: Hollen beat out fellow Oregonian Jay Yelas for the best week in Bucket D. Yelas finished in 9th at St. Clair and did so in a unique way. He fished shallower than any pro in the field and prospered with a Chatterbait, Spy Bait and Drop shot.

Lowest point performance: Carl Jocumsen didn’t quite figure out Lake St. Clair on Day 1 of the event and it set him back mightily. With cut weights in the middle of the pack, topping the likes of Champlain and the St. Lawrence, it was hard to make a jump if anglers struggled on a day or so. Jocumsen finished 84th and 5.5 percent of Fantasy Fishing players felt that hurt on their roster. 

BUCKET E: WEIDLER

Who would’ve thought that an Alabama angler would leave Michigan with an Elite Series title? That was the case for Bill Weidler and it came at the most important time in his career. After a brutal four-event stretch to start 2020, Weidler was in the cellar of the AOY standings which explains why only .3 percent of players selected him for their team. He rewarded them with 305 points and rewarded himself with a blue trophy and $100,000.

Second best selection: If you wandered down the standings from 1st to 21st you’ll find the 2nd best Bucket E selection. Randy Sullivan had a great week at St. Clair and almost cracked the Top 20. He had 233 points for his efforts and turned his season in the right direction. 

Lowest point performance: To the dismay of some, Rick Clunn left St. Clair as the worst pick in Bucket E. He finished 83rd and said he completely missed the boat on what he should’ve done. Clunn netted only 109 points for the 4 percent of players who selected him.

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