Fantasy Fishing: Pick spotted bass experts

Here we go again. Another Elite Series event in the state of Alabama, this time it’s the TNT Fireworks Bassmaster Elite at Smith Lake. If we’re lucky, there will be treated to more fireworks like we saw at Wheeler Lake.

Smith Lake is full of both spotted bass and largemouth bass, but the spotted bass tend to be a more consistent player in tournaments at this deep, clear body of water. Anglers will inevitably bring big largemouth to the stage each day, but spotted bass are often easier to count on.

While Smith Lake is a phenomenal fishery, it is also a very popular lake for pleasure boats such as pontoons and wakeboard boats. This will possibly make the main lake bite more challenging once the weekend rolls around, so I wouldn’t be surprised if a group of anglers try to find a shallow bite that won’t be affected by the potential boat traffic.

Let’s get into some picks.


Bucket A is completely full of anglers who should have a great showing at Smith Lake, but seeing Patrick Walters at only a 5% player percentage seems too good to be true. The South Carolina pro has consistently proved to be a force when dealing with nomadic fish like the spotted bass of Smith Lake. Additionally, Walters had a solid showing at Smith just a few years ago in an Open.

Solid secondary selection: After an uncharacteristically tough finish at Wheeler Lake, Jordan Lee will be hungrier than ever to bounce back at Smith Lake, especially considering it’s his home lake.


Will Davis Jr. may be a Coosa River guy at heart, but he’s proven that he can wrangle up spotted bass anywhere they live. The Alabama pro has as much knowledge of Smith Lake as anyone in the field and has the history to prove it. Davis won a B.A.S.S. Nation event in 2022 at Smith Lake and finished 9th in an Open back in 2017.

Solid secondary selection: Wes Logan has been on a bit of a hot streak with three top 30 finishes in his last three events. Additionally, the Alabama pro secured a Top 10 in an Open at Smith Lake back in 2019 – the year that he qualified for the Elites.


Whether it be spotted bass or smallmouth bass, Austin Felix has a history of catching bass that roam and chase baitfish. That will certainly be a pattern that will play at Smith Lake. At a 1.4% player percentage, Felix could be a steal of a pick in Bucket C.

Solid secondary selection: Sticking with the theme of a low player percentage, Shane LeHew’s history of spotted bass success makes him a great option at Smith Lake.


Bucket D was a difficult Bucket to choose from, so I’m sticking with one of the true locals of the event in Joseph Webster. The Alabama pro considers Smith Lake his home lake and has been outspoken all season about how excited he is for this event. Expect Webster to have a few tricks up his sleeve.

Solid secondary selection: At a much lower player percentage, Jake Whitaker could be a sneaky pick in Bucket D. The North Carolina pro has a history of success on bodies of water that are similar to Smith Lake.


Bucket E has a few anglers that certainly have a lot of experience on Smith Lake, but stylistically, this seems like a perfect event for Bryant Smith. Plus, the California pro shares the same last name of the lake. How does that help you might ask? It doesn’t.

Solid secondary selection: A solid event at Wheeler might be just what Gerald Swindle needed to get back on track. The Alabama pro has a long history on Smith Lake, so that positive momentum could carry on into the northern swing.

Falcon Rods Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge

• Joseph Webster
• Bryant Smith
• Tyler Rivet
• Logan Parks
• Jordan Lee
• Will Davis Jr.
• Justin Hamner
• Wesley Gore