This is an exciting tournament, even more so than most regular-season Elites. The 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest Benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Lake Travis is sure to produce some big Texas bass and draw big crowds from nearby Austin, Texas.
In looking at the recent schedule, the top 108 pro anglers in the world have been busy, and the marathon will continue in Texas. They’ll have just about a week off following Kentucky Lake, then back to work for this tournament.
Look for veteran anglers to do well here.
The bass will be in a predictable pre-summer and postspawn pattern, and that likely means most anglers will manange to weigh a limit each day.
At least that’s my assumption.
I’m also picking anglers that either have strong momentum coming into this event, or are in need of a strong redirect to put their season back on track. We will begin to see Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year leaders emerge, and more accurate forecasts might be possible.
BUCKET A: ROY
There is no arguing that Bradley Roy is a young gun, but he’s no rookie on the Elite Series. He’s leading AOY and has managed to keep his career on an up-hill swing. I think he’ll show up to Austin ready to fish and keep his momentum rolling.
Darkhorse: Greg Hackney, Brett Hite or Fred Roumbanis will pull checks at Lake Travis. In fact, Roumbanis will be hitting the lake after two consecutive Top 12s, and that spells momentum, as well.
BUCKET B: SWINDLE
I say it every time I choose Gerald Swindle, I justify the selection with the fact that he’s way overdue for a win. And while that’s true, he’s also very consistent. Just look at his finishes this year. Momentum is certainly on his side. And any time a jig or crankbait is likely to play, you can count on Swindle to be in the mix.
Darkhorse: Seth Feider and Jacob Wheeler will be safe bets, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see either or both in the Top 12. Both are young guys, but both have really come into their own lately showing poise and excellent decision-making.
BUCKET C: M. LEE
Matt Lee is continuing showing poise like an angler with more experience than he currently has. I don’t think that’s an accident. Look for his momentum to continue, and like Swindle whenever a jig or crankbait will be key expect the elder Lee brother to catch plenty of big bass.
Darkhorse: Cliff Pirch or Russ Lane are both dudes who are consistent and due for a Top 12 or a W. I think either guy will cash a check, but the question is: Who will earn more AOY points?
BUCKET D: LEFEBRE
This completely sets up to accommodate the talents of Dave Lefebre. He has a history of fishing in Texas, and he’s been relatively quiet this year so far. After a tough 2017, the Erie, Pa., pro is looking to be far more competitive in 2018. Lake Travis could be his first Elite Series win. Plus, he’s a full-on veteran; he knows what a tough road-life is all about. I think you can count on Lefebre to make a splash at Travis.
Darkhorse: Kelley Jaye has been consistent, and he’s no rookie. He’s been in the hunt during several of his recent Top 12 appearances, including the most recent at Kentucky Lake. I think his experience and tenacity is due a win. He’d make a fine alternative to Lefebre, if you so choose.
BUCKET E: WILLIAMSON
This is becoming a tough bucket to choose from. Mostly because there are anglers in Bucket E that simply don’t belong here. Jason Williamson enjoyed a great showing last year at Sam Rayburn, and he’s in need of a momentum shift. Look for Lake Travis to provide the platform to get this season back on track.
Darkhorse: Drew Benton has been unusually quiet this year. For whatever reason, he’s one of the names in this bucket that seemingly doesn’t belong. He knows that, and I’d bet he makes some big changes at this event.