Lake Texoma wasn’t exactly as I had written about it in my last Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing story, but once you pen something you can’t go back and change it. With that being said, my team was alright overall. One low finisher hurt my team, but four anglers fishing on Day 3 is always a positive.
With Texoma flooding over 9 feet above full pool for the third time this year, it makes sense why flipping bushes and topwater was so successful, but what viewers didn’t see was how tough it was to get a bite.
Elite anglers always prefer tough fishing on a good fishery because it makes each bite hard to come by, but if they are persistent enough then it can yield a good-sized fish.
Cayuga is a familiar place for some Elite anglers as they visited it in 2014 when Greg Hackney won and many practiced last year during the break between the St. Lawrence River and the Chesapeake Bay. It should be another fun tournament this time around.
If it was publicly acceptable to pick Greg Hackney or Gerald Swindle for the rest of the Elite Series events, I would, but they would probably rename my column “Ronnie’s Boring Picks.” They are smoking the fish and the competition this year – and it’s obvious for Fantasy Fishing players to pick them – but I would be of no help to those wanting a different perspective.
BUCKET A: POWROZNIK
Safe Bet: Jacob Powroznik
This may be one of the safest picks that I make all year, and the reality is Jacob Powroznik is almost always a safe bet. In his three seasons on the Elite Series he has only missed four checks, not to mention he boasted a sixth-place finish at Cayuga in 2014. He’s done well there in the past, and I think he’s overdue for a win.
Worth a risk: Drew Benton
Flipping grass isn’t foreign to the Florida native, so Cayuga shouldn’t overwhelm Benton. There are plentiful grass clumps to target, and although it is easy to get lost in the endless vegetation, southern anglers can sometimes decipher the better grass from the non-productive areas. Benton is fishing well this year and is sitting in a good spot with three tournaments left.
Gut tells me: J-Proz
Second time is the charm for Powroznik as I think he punches another Top 12 and even a win in New York.
BUCKET B: J. LEE
Safe Bet: Jordan Lee
Jordan Lee has turned into one of the safest picks on the Elite Series when it comes to making checks, not to mention his ability to use Day 3 and jump even higher (two Top 12s this year). He isn’t recognized as one of those college anglers, or that young kid, but rather many veterans know he is a threat every time he backs his boat in the water. It seems that Lee is fishing free and having fun, which reflects his laid-back personality. He will break through for a win sooner rather than later.
Worth a risk: Jason Christie
Quietly, Jason Christie has put together a very solid season without much mention. He barely missed the Texoma Top 50 cut and had one bad tournament (Winyah Bay), but other than that he has been in the 30s and up. With the weight it took in 2014 to win, I think we could see similar if not better weights. I would strongly consider Christie if it becomes a high-weight shootout.
Gut tells me: Lee
I think he backs up his Texoma Top 12 with another very good tournament. His Guntersville grass knowledge should help him north of the Mason-Dixon line.
BUCKET C: MONTGOMERY
Safe Bet: Andy Montgomery
Docks. Perhaps not much else needs to be said about the abundant man-made structure, but there are many docks on Cayuga and Montgomery knows how to catch fish from them. Texoma had plenty of docks for Montgomery to be successful, but there was way too much water in the fishery for them to be as fruitful. With the heat of summer setting in, the dock bite should be awesome, and that’s where a guy like Montgomery could really shine.
Worth a risk: John Crews
He’s mad at ‘em! It’s almost as simple as that. Crews finished 107th at Texoma, most likely his worst ever finish. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bounces back with a very good finish and puts himself back in the unofficial Classic cut.
Gut tells me: Montgomery
Tough coin flip between Montgomery and Crews, but I don’t think you can go wrong with either in Bucket C.
BUCKET D: MORGENTHALER
Safe Bet: Chad Morgenthaler
I’m going to rename Bucket D to the “flipping” bucket based on my two picks. Chad Morgenthaler proves his flipping ability every time the Elites or Opens get anywhere close to thick vegetation. Cayuga should be a place Morgenthaler stands on his momentum and does well once again. Texoma was a great tournament for him, and Cayuga should follow suit.
Worth a risk: Cliff Prince
Big bass, thick grass and a Florida native means some happy fishing this week. Based on what we learned from Greg Hackney in 2014, it seems that once an angler finds some quality fish in an area, if he hunkers down and flips a big jig long enough they are bound to come across a solid five-fish limit.
Gut tells me: Morgenthaler
I am a believer in momentum, no matter how long it lasts. For those who can harness positive vibes and fish confidently for multiple weeks I truly think their finishes will reflect it.
BUCKET E: SCROGGINS
Safe Bet: Terry Scroggins
Just like Cliff Prince, Scroggins isn’t shy when it comes to fishing the thick stuff. With the northern lakes being ahead of schedule from how the weather has been this year, the grass should be green and fruitful. This season has been highly competitive and that has been indicated in the fluctuation of tournament results this year. Although it has been a tough season for Scroggins, don’t think for a second he has forgotten how to catch ‘em. This week should break his four-tournament checkless streak and bring a payday for the Big Show.
Worth a risk: John Hunter
The 2016 Elite Series rookie boated a Top 12 at Winyah Bay earlier this year by maximizing a stretch of matted grass while others in the area fished flats and wood. Since then it has been a tough season for the Kentucky angler, but growing pains are certainly expected when you jump from College to the Opens and then the Elite Series. This should be another good finish for Hunter if he trusts his gut and ability.
Gut tells me: Scroggins
I’m betting that Big Show gets it done up north and makes a Top 50 in the seventh stop of the season. This could line up a couple of good events in a row with the Potomac and Mississippi River after Cayuga. All have a solid eco-system of grass, which could end his season on a high note. But it all starts this week at Cayuga.