I keep making selections on my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team hoping I’ll hit it big one of these times. Many of those choices are based on the science that Coy Greathouse is so excellent at outlining in his most recent column. I suggest reading it.
If you’re looking to make a large jump, you can take a risk and bet on a lower owned angler. Or, consider the favorite if you want to maintain and make a smaller improvement in your picks. But also consider those who are great with a jig.
Despite a couple tough finishes for me, I’m still sitting in the 84.2 percentile, and my goal for the second half of the season is to build on that and hopefully make the Top 10 percent. I am going to mix my selections with favorites and lesser-owned anglers, but with a strong consideration for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings.
This is the point in the season where the leaders tend to break away from the rest of the group, and that should be considered when making your selections.
I’d also like to point out that our last Inside Bassmaster podcast was about as in-depth as you can get on Fantasy Fishing. I highly suggest you subscribe via iTunes and listen carefully. Our Pundit crew made some outstanding selections, and I’m confident there is a near winning team in the mix of discussion that took place.
On to my selections:
BUCKET A: HACKNEY
Greg Hackney is quietly staying tough, and after a near win a few years ago on Dardanelle, he knows how to effectively fish the lake. Then consider how the tough water conditions will likely to play into the hands of a jig stud like Hackney. I think it’s safe to expect a solid finish out of the 2014 Angler of the Year.
Dark horse: Jason Christie is no dark horse; in fact he won here in 2014. So when considering likely candidates to do well, you can safely bet on Christie. But, this bucket is so full of hammers; it’s hard to make the right decision. In my mind, Todd Faircloth, Jason Williamson, James Elam, Dave Lefebre and Kevin VanDam would all be solid choices.
BUCKET B: THARP
He’s still fishing mad after Toledo Bend, and I hate to dwell on that, but a guy like Randall Tharp actually thrives on his failures — he’s never satisfied and I look at that as a strength for a guy like Tharp. He’s also especially good with a jig, one of the best, so my vote at Dardanelle is sticking with him, again.
Dark horse: Gerald Swindle is LONG overdue for a win, and when water conditions get blown out, a junk-fishing specialist like Swindle could really shine. If I were to swap out Tharp with anyone, it would be G.
BUCKET C: CROCHET
Cliff Crochet is a steal in Bucket C. I think he’s due a win on the Bassmaster Elite Series, and he’s been catching good fish lately — and consistently at Sam Rayburn. He’s very good with shallow, muddy water when a jig or frog comes into play, and I expect both at Dardanelle.
Dark horse: Matt Herren could win this thing. He won Dardanelle during an FLW event a few years ago, and he’s known for fishing well when angry. Since he’s coming off of a tough finish at Sam Rayburn, and considering how confident he is with a jig in his hand, I bet he finishes well. I may slide him into Crochet’s spot before things kick off.
BUCKET D: MENENDEZ
This could be my dark horse of the entire event, and I’m not making any changes to this bucket. I think Mark Menendez wants a win as badly as anyone on the tour right now, and that’s fueling him. He won on Dardanelle in 2009, and he knows dark, muddy water with a jig. I think the Kentucky angler will show up and surprise everyone.
Dark horse: Tommy Biffle deserves some attention here too. He’s been somewhat off this year, and is likely one of the greatest jig fishermen to ever traverse the earth’s waters. You can bet on the Oklahoma legend at Dardanelle.
BUCKET E: LUCAS
I’m standing by Justin Lucas again in this tournament. He did better at Sam Rayburn than his previous events this season, and I know he won’t stay down for long. My goal is to have him selected when he breaks free. Before the 2017 season his average AOY finish was a remarkable seventh place. This year will mess up that average, but it says a lot about how good he really is. Dardanelle could be where he turns the bus on a dime.
Dark horse: Chad Morgenthaler is having an uncharacteristically difficult season, and we all know he doesn’t’ belong in Bucket E. I think he needs to finish well, and the midway point in the season is a great place to make that change if he hopes to finish strong and earn a coveted berth to the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods.