Fantasy Fishing: Who cares who wins, it’s smallmouth!

Who isn’t ready for the Northern Swing? I’m writing this from the shores of the St. Lawrence River at the TNT B.A.S.S. Nation Northeastern Regional. I was hoping this would inspire my Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing picks for the upcoming Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at the St. Lawrence River, but all it has done is shown me why we all love this place.

As much as we want to see our favorite picks do well, I think we all enjoy seeing the exciting smallmouth coverage on Bassmaster LIVE. Until the dinner table talk at the Nation event, I was unaware there were fishing seasons up here. I thought you could fish all the time, even if it was through ice … hmm, go figure. Well we all should be happy now that it is smallie season, brownie season, football season, thicc girl season.

Fishing should be good the week of the Elite with the fish moving into their postspawn stuff and transitioning to their summer areas. It should set up well for the anglers that do well fishing deep. I asked B.A.S.S. Nation Tournament Director Jon Stewart how the fishing would go and he said something like that so we’ll just go with it.

Besides fishing patterns, another thing I love about this event is the work from our photographers. The photo galleries from any St. Lawrence River event are always good, and our talented photography team — James Overstreet, Andy Crawford, Shane Durrance, Dalton Tumblin and Kyle Jessie — do such an amazing job. My favorites are the pics of the anglers with the huge barges in the background or the big waves that the river can produce. If you have a chance, make sure you check them out during the event.

Even though I won Rapala Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge a few weeks ago (shameless reminder) it’s been a tough year in Fantasy Fishing. For the last few years I’ve been in the overall top five of our staff group, and it makes me sad when I have to scroll so far down to see my team in the middle of the group standings.

I usually make up my own rules before the season, like I can’t pick the highest picked person in each bucket, and I have to pick a rookie every event. I broke the rookie rule a while back. I don’t think anyone noticed so I gave it up. And for the highest percentage rule, that was so dumb. I didn’t pick Lee Livesay at Lake Fork because of that rule that isn’t even a “real” rule, and the only fool around was me — and Ronnie Moore, he didn’t pick him either.


If you look at the last few times we have been to St. Lawrence Cory Johnston has only gotten better each year. The last two times he’s had Top 10 finishes. Saying that he’s only going to get better and me choosing him will probably put a damper on his tournament, so R.I.P. I was having a hard time choosing between the Johnston brothers for Bucket A so my backup pick is an easy choice.

Backup pick: Chris Johnston


Another tough choice, going back and forth between Taku Ito and Jeff Gustafson. Taku has become a fun angler to watch during the St. Lawrence events. We always seem to get a few catch phrases from him if he is on Bassmaster LIVE.

Backup pick: Jeff Gustafson


Going back to Mandy Pascal’s way of picking – just pick Seth Feider. Whatever Bucket he is in, he gets her pick. And for this one I will pick him too. Smallies just seem to show up for him like he is the pied piper of smallmouth bass. Going to have to make a meme of that.

Backup pick: Micah Frazier


I honestly didn’t have a strong pull for any angler in this Bucket, but Austin Felix was the highest selected angler and the angler with the best average finish in previous events. Two for two, so let’s go.

Backup pick: Bernie Schultz


I really want to pick Justin Atkins, but every time I pick him he doesn’t have a good event. He needs one, and I am just superstitious enough that I’m not going to interfere with his event, even though me picking him has zero effect on his tournament. Keith Combs has had a few good derbies there, so why not.

Backup pick: Michael Iaconelli  

Mercury Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge

• Jeff Gustafson
• Justin Atkins
• Chris Johnston
• Taku Ito
• Jacob Powroznik
• Greg DiPalma
• Paul Mueller
• Scott Canterbury