Fantasy Fishing: Clunn was tops at St. Johns, again

PALATKA, Fla. — The giant bass showed up in huge numbers as the 2019 Bassmaster Elite Series kicked off at the Power-Pole Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River in early February. With a refreshed field of returning legendary bass anglers along side numbers of newcomers and rookies alike, the Bassmaster Elite Series is strong.

The seemingly endless number of hefty bags across the four-day event based in Palatka, Fla., just reiterated how great the fishery is.

There was concern leading into the event because after Hurricane Mathew, much of the eelgrass was killed off, which is critical for spawning bass in the fishery. Plus, this is the earliest the Bassmasters have ever visited the St. Johns.

Concerned speculations were put to rest after several 30-plus-pound bags, multiple double-digit fish and countless 6- to 8-pounders were weighed in each day. It was incredible to watch.

Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players once again showed up in droves, and the picks were challenging, as much of the new 75-angler Elite Series field are somewhat unknown. That is changing, however. New stars are being born, and as the season continues that will become more obvious.

Rick Clunn of Ava, Mo., produced a remarkable four-day limit of bass that weighed an impressive 98 pounds, 14 ounces. Just over a pound from the legendary century mark, one seldom reached in professional bass fishing.

Here’s a look at the first Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing tournament on the St. Johns River.

St. Johns Fantasy Winner: “CaptainCurt” with 1,407 total points

Rank: No. 1

Bucket A: Rick Clunn, 345 points

B: Seth Feider, 231

C: Chris Johnston, 305

D: Cliff Prince, 241

E: Patrick Walters, 285

Total: 1,407

St. Johns River’s Perfect Team:

Bucket A: Rick Clunn, 345 points

B: Greg DiPalma, 243

C: Chris Johnston, 305

D: Cliff PIrch, 272

E: Patrick Walters, 285

Total: 1,450

BUCKET A: CLUNN

Rick Clunn put up another impressive win at the St. Johns River after an incredible 34-pound final-day five-bass limit. The St. Johns showed out this year, and Rick Clunn proved he is still relevant and a power that demands respect. Clunn earned his 10.2-percent ownership 345 points after taking home the title. 300 points for the win, 40 bonus points for the heaviest bag of the event, and five points for leading the event for one day.

Second-best choice: John Crews was the second-best choice in Bucket A. He earned his 6.2-percent ownership 320 points after weighing the event’s largest bass — a 40-point bonus — and a solid fifth-place finish.

Worst choice: The lowest scoring angler in this bucket was a surprising Keith Combs, who held a strong level of ownership t 14.5 percent. Combs earned his faithful only 149 points after a tough 63rd-place finish.

BUCKET B: DIPALMA

Being relatively unknown at this point, Greg DiPalma flew under the radar of most Fantasy Fishing players. But don’t let his growing brand fool you, he’s a hammer and he proved that at St. Johns. He earned his 1.2-percent ownership 243 points after a solid start to his Elite Series career. He finished in 16th place.

Second-best choice: Minnesota’s Seth Feider was the second-best choice in this bucket. He earned his bucket-dominating 26.6-percent ownership 232 points after a solid 22nd-place finish.

Worst choice: David Fritts was the lowest scoring angler in Bucket B finishing at the bottom of the field in 75th place and earning his 4.3-percent ownership only 125 points.

BUCKET C: CHRIS JOHNSTON

Another new face on the Bassmaster Elite Series is Chris Johnston, but he is no rookie when it comes to competing on the top ranks of professional bass fishing. Johnston started out strong, but took a commanding lead on Days 2 and 3, but slipped to second place behind Clunn on the final day of official competition. The young Canadian pro earned his 8.9-percent ownership 305 points — 295 for second place, and five bonus points for each day he lead the field.

Second-best choice: Mark Menendez made a last-day charge at the title, and landed in third place by only an ounce. The veteran pro earned his faithful 4.9-percent ownership 290 points for his finish.

Worst choice: Uncharacteristically, Steve Kennedy was the lowest scoring angler in Bucket C. He earned his 19-percent ownership only 157 points after finishing in 59th place.

BUCKET D: PIRCH

Clifford Pirch is a very accomplished professional angler, and he showed that same poise we’ve come to expect this past week at Palatka. On Day 3, Pirch delivered a staggering five-bass limit that weighed 34-9, which helped him climb to a respectable seventh-place finish. He earned his 4.3-percent ownership 272 points for his season-opening performance.

Second-best choice: Chad Morgenthaler was the second highest scoring angler in Bucket D. He earned his 6.2-percent ownership 251 points after a solid 13th-place finish.

Worst choice: Rick Morris was the lowest scoring angler in this bucket having produced only 133 points for his 2.6-percent ownership after a tough 71st-place finish.

BUCKET E: WALTERS

Young Patrick Walters has a level of potential that is comparable to Jordan Lee. He is beyond talented, and it’s no surprise that during this first Elite appearance he made a solid run at the title — at least fishing in the Top 10 on Championship Sunday. Betting on Walters as the season continues is smart. He earned his 2.8-percent ownership 285 points after a solid fourth-place finish.

Second-best choice: Elite Series newcomer Clark Wendlandt was the second highest scoring angler in Bucket E. He earned his 14.1-percent ownership 248 points after a fine 14th-place finish.

Worst choice: Surprisingly, Caleb Sumrall was the lowest scoring angler in this bucket having earned his 4.6-percent ownership only 131 points.