Fantasy Fishing: Finish strong with strong finishers

When I set out to take on all of you Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players out there, I had every intention of wreckin’ shop like I have in past years. Except this year, I’m the one on the bottom.

However, I can say that I finally pulled out a tournament with more than one angler in the Top 50! Since we were short on time between events, there wasn’t enough room to squeeze in my picks, but my team and their finishes were as follows:

Bucket A: Chris Zaldain – 67th, 141 points

B: Todd Faircloth – 57th, 161

C: Skeet Reese – 31st, 213

D: Tommy Biffle – 9th, 264

E: David Walker – 100th, 75

Total: 854 points

I gave myself a little bit of freedom with my picks, and I decided I would see how changing at every whim panned out for me. I have to say, I posted the best score of the season … which is pitiful. I made some good gut choices and some bad ones. I had KVD for a short stent, which would have helped by almost 150 points. I felt really strongly about Todd Faircloth and David Walker because they are absolute studs when it comes to postspawn and grass. How they didn’t do better, I’ll never know

So here’s where we stand: (It hurts to even share it with you, but for the sake of science, I will.) I am currently in a cool 26,100th place and around 11.7 percent.

Moving forward, I think I need to do two things. First, from a season standpoint, just like any tournament angler who might find himself near the bottom, I need to pick myself up by the britches and try to hammer out a solid finish.

Like my buddy Sean Devos said on the Facebook page, it might be time to bust out the dartboard and start throwing darts at anglers’ names. While it is painfully obvious that going solely on history doesn’t work, I can’t think of a better way to choose my picks. I am going to continue to narrow it down to the 10 to 15 anglers who historically and technically have the best chance, and then choose based on my gut. Very few of these anglers have any recorded history on Texoma, so I’m basing this more off of techniques than anything.


Initial Pick: Keith Combs

Second Guess: Randy Howell

When I think of Texoma, I think of rocky, deep and mostly clear, however there is a ton of shallow, dirty water to be found the further from the dam you get. It is definitely going to be 95-percent postspawn, and I think topwater prowess and deep, slow-moving lures will come into play.

When I think postspawn, I immediately think of Combs. His ability to find transition spots is unreal. He typically shines in dirty water, so if he can find a concentration moving out like he did at Toledo Bend, he’ll have a shot.

Howell is almost guaranteed to have a crankbait rod in his hand, cranking rocks. I could see this being a similar technique to his prespawn cranking spot in the Guntersville Classic. Both of these guys have some momentum this season, minus Howell’s 73rd-place finish at Toledo Bend. I have to give the edge to Howell though.


Initial Pick: Brent Ehrler

Second Guess: Cliff Pace, Ott Defoe

I really see two tournaments happening here. There are lots of 2- to 3-pound largemouth and some really nice 4-to 5-pound smallmouth bass down on the south end of the lake, but there are a lot more 3- to 4-pound largemouth further up the lake. It will be a battle of the mixed bag verses a largemouth limit caught further up the lake. A 15- to 16-pound bag should play well here. In fact, I think if one can manage 14 pounds per day, an angler should finish in the top 30.

With the stout population of sizable smallies on the lower end, I’m going to call on my clear-water fellas to make it happen. I think Cliff Pace could make a run at this one. Climbing jigs around rocks and throwing a jerkbait will be right in his wheelhouse. I also think Ott Defoe could make a showing too.

Brent Ehrler is an absolute hammer when it comes to clear water and finesse. I am confident he will show up. I have to stand by my gut and give this bucket to Ehrler.


Initial Pick: Mike McClelland

Second Guess: Josh Bertrand

Deep rock and jigs = McClelland. If he can find bass doing that, I guarantee he’ll end up in the money.

I think an overlooked angler will be Josh Bertrand. When you get access to some clear water and have smallmouth in the picture, Josh Bertrand shines. He’s another one of those that my gut twists a little harder when my mouse scrolls over his name.

Tommy Biffle is one other one who is riding some pretty sweet momentum here. I picked him at Toledo Bend and he did me proud! He could get that ole Biffle Bug out and go to work on these clear-water bass. I have to go with his momentum on this one.


Initial Pick: Mark Davis

Second Guess: Jeff Kriet

There are almost zero picks in this bucket that can compare to Mark Davis. He is a well rounded postspawn master who can do it all. I have leaned on him once this season and it didn’t pan out. However, this is too far into his wheelhouse for him not do well at this event.

If I were to give someone else the nod in this bucket, it would be Kriet. I nearly picked him at Toledo Bend, which would have cost me a few spots, but I think this lake sets up well for Kriet’s style.


Initial Pick: Bernie Schultz

Second Guess: David Walker

Bucket E has been extremely tough for me this year…but then again, so have A, B, C and D. When I think of Floridian, Bernie Schultz, I immediately think of shallow-water flipping. However, he has proven that he can flat-out catch bass in a clear-water situation. I expect he’ll stay near the dam and try to find the big smallmouth.

The big pick in this bucket is David Walker. After his tough tournament on Toledo Bend, I am surprised to see he is owned by 51 percent at this point. I know how good of an angler he is, and I’m sure he will pull his season together. This needs to be his season’s turning point. I’m going to go against the masses though and stick with Schultz on this one.

There’s really no chance for me to make it back to a top 50 percent at this point, but I’m sure going to try my best. Here’s to a better second half of the season!