It has been a miserable season of Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing for me this season. I’ve made some really impressive, low-percentage picks that have paid off big time over the course of the year, but I can’t seem to put together a complete roster.
The Minn Kota Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River is the grand finale of the season and I’m simply trying to end the season on a positive note. With college football season right around the corner, I’ll compare my Fantasy Fishing season to that of a football team that had a terrible season, but a big win in the final game will at least give you something to look forward to next year. That’s pretty much where I’m at.
Even if it means I have to choose an entire roster of high-percentage picks, I’m doing my best to ride a little positive momentum into 2024.
Let’s get into my picks.
BUCKET A: PRZEKURAT
In a very small amount of time, Jay Przekurat has proven that he’s going to be a star on the Bassmaster Elite Series. The Wisconsin pro has yet to slip outside of the Top 15 in any northern smallmouth event since joining the Elite Series and I wouldn’t suspect it will happen at the St. Lawrence River, a place that he shattered records and collected his first blue trophy just a year ago.
Solid secondary selection: If you’re looking for a sneaky pick in Bucket A, Stetson Blaylock may be the pick for you. In his last four Elite Series events at the St. Lawrence River, the Arkansas pro has finished inside the top 50, including a 3rd-place finish in 2022.
BUCKET B: JOHNSTON
Bucket B is loaded with anglers that have a history of success at the St. Lawrence River, including both Johnston brothers. This begs the question of which brother will end up on top this time around. With the forecasted heavy winds, I can’t get the image of Chris Johnston battling the wind and waves for his first Elite victory back in 2020 in the middle of Lake Ontario.
Solid secondary selection: If Chris Johnston’s player percentage is too high for your liking, both Cory Johnston and Brandon Palaniuk are available at a lower percentage.
BUCKET C: MUELLER
There’s a trend that suggests Paul Mueller will either finish inside the Top 10 at the St. Lawrence River or well outside of the top 50 cut, but my gut is telling me it’s a year for a Top 10. The Connecticut pro has some positive momentum rolling into this event with two top 30 finishes in his last two events.
Solid secondary selection: Justin Atkins is another angler that has some positive momentum rolling into the final event of the season after a 2nd place finish just a couple of days prior at Lake Champlain. In two Elite events at the St. Lawrence River, the Alabama pro has a 2nd and a 15th place finish.
BUCKET D: REDWINE
Sticking with the theme of positive momentum, Alex Redwine has turned his season around in the last two events with a 6th and 29th place finish. The Ohio pro has proven to be a force when smallmouth are in play, and I think that trend will continue at the St. Lawrence River.
Solid secondary selection: Given the “win and you’re in” format of this event, Chris Zaldain is a tempting pick in Bucket D. The Elite Series veteran has a number of excellent finishes at the St. Lawrence River, and I suspect he will go for the win to try to automatically qualify for the 2024 Academy Sports and Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Toyota.
BUCKET E: PIPKENS
Chad Pipkens certainly hasn’t had the season he was hoping for in 2023, but he’s another angler that I would suspect to go all-in for a win. The Michigan pro is way back in the Progressive Angler of the Year standings, and a win would automatically turn his season around.
Solid secondary selection: As a northeastern angler, Alex Wetherell is no stranger to fishing for smallmouth which makes him a viable alternative pick in Bucket E.
Mercury Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge
• Chris Johnston
• Cory Johnston
• Paul Mueller
• Brandon Palaniuk
• Jay Przekurat
• Justin Atkins
• Cooper Gallant
• Taku Ito