Fantasy Fishing: Here today, gone tomorrow

Tyler Williams

Much like Florida where we see anglers flourish one day and struggle the next, blueback herring lakes like Lake Murray can present a similar challenge. Big tournament winning bass on Lake Murray often become extremely focused on herring once they finish their own spawn. Keeping tabs on where the bass shift when following the herring and being open minded and flexible will be key for anglers looking to be fishing on championship Sunday.

The shad spawn could also be a factor for this Lake Murray event.  We could see some late spawning fish caught, but I would expect that to be much less of a factor than the 2023 Elite Series event won by Drew Benton.

If all goes well, viewers on Bassmaster LIVE will be spoiled with numerous and vicious open water topwater strikes from big largemouth bass keyed in on blueback herring on Lake Murray.

It will be interesting to see if the rookies can stay hot as they are presented with a unique style of fishery like Lake Murray.


Well, I cannot pick Patrick Walters in Bucket A this week. There are a lot of tempting anglers for Murray, but I got a sneaky feeling about Tyler Williams. Williams missed his first cut at St. Johns River, but I think he bounces back strong at Murray. Herring bass have been known to eat some big, bulky jigs, so I got a feeling Williams kicks his shoes off and has a big event.

Minnow Hangers

No shortage of Minnow Hangers in Bucket A. If that is a deal on Murray in the early summer, lots of anglers will stay in Bucket A. I like Wesley Gore’s balanced approach, but he can use his electronics with the best of them and he could be sneaky on Murray.


Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…. Well, maybe I am stubborn, I am still picking Patrick Walters after two very mediocre performances.  I feel like Walter is like a stone cold NBA perimeter shooter, he can shoot himself out of this slump and now he will be close to home. 

Take a Risk

If you need to make up ground and are looking for a splashy pick, look at Steve Kennedy. A shad spawn could be a factor and swimbaits could play on Murray. He had a 20th place in 2023 and is due for a Sunday appearance.


Shane LeHew has to be excited to head home to a Carolina fishery. Lehew had a solid Lake Murray performance in 2023 and has fished Murray off and on over the years.  The North Carolina pro is no stranger to Herring fisheries and should do well.  

AOY Turnaround

2023 Progressive Bassmaster Angler of the Year Kyle Welcher had a solid event last season on Murray and was a stretch of solid tournaments where Welcher made his move to position himself before the northern swing. After a subpar Florida swing, look for Welcher to bounce back on Murray.


Brandon Cobb has a strong history on Lake Murray and Carolina Herring fisheries in general. Coming off a season where he was in the mix for AOY into the final event of 2023, Cobb should turn around his season on Murray fishing a variety of baits and techniques.

Power Pick

Jason Williamson won an Elite event on another famous herring lake in 2010 on Clarks Hill and was 9th in the 2023 Murray event. This might be a great time to pick the angler that Mercer affectionately calls the Tower of Power.


Mike Iaconelli narrowly missed a Top 10 on Murray in 2023 and that may have had something to do with the large amount of graphing he did in pre-practice which should serve him well this year when the event is a few weeks later.

Risky Business

If you like to live on the edge of Fantasy Fishing, take a look at Matt Roberton. He held the Day 1 lead last season on Murray and when you combine that with his love for big swimbaits, he could a home run on Murray. Robertson trailed off in that event and ended up 29th, and he is not having his best start in 2024, but he has shown he can have an explosive event give your Fantasy team big time bonus points.

Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge

We are well into season four of 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. 

In  2024 we will have 10 events and 104 anglers. You will need to use up 80 of the 104 anglers. Hopefully you have saved a few favorites for the middle part of the season.

Here is my Lake Murray Drain the Lake roster:

Patrick Walters
Bryan New
Shane LeHew
Matt Arey
Brandon Cobb
Hunter Shryock
Jason Williams
Carl Jocumsen