I’m not even going to sugar coat it; my last two Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing events have been awful. By far they were my worst two finishes of the year. With that said, we still have one event left, and I fully intend on finishing the season strong.
When selecting my team for the Farmers Insurance Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River, I did my best to not overthink it. The Elites have visited the St. Lawrence so many times in recent memory that we have a pretty good feel for what to expect and who typically excels here.
As you probably are well aware, there are a ton of different storylines to follow during the final event of the year. Whether you’re battling for the Bassmaster Angler of the Year title, trying to stay within the Bassmaster Classic cutline, battling to stay in the Elite Series or even gunning for the win — which will give an automatic qualification for the 2022 Classic — there are plenty of reasons to be fishing.
One thing I’ve really been looking forward to is using all the heavy hitters in the Mercury Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge that I have been saving all season. Let’s take a look at my final Drain the Lake roster:
- Scott Canterbury
- Austin Felix
- Chris Johnston
- Cory Johnston
- Clark Wendlandt
- Brock Mosley
- Micah Frazier
- Taku Ito
BUCKET A: CORY JOHNSTON
As I already mentioned, I'm not going to overthink it. Regardless of which Johnston brother you choose, there’s a strong chance he will end up in the Top 10 come the final day. Cory Johnston has come extremely close to winning several times over the course of the last three years which I believe motivates him that much more to hoist a blue trophy over his head. What better place to do it than the St. Lawrence River?
Solid secondary selection: One of the only reasons I decided to go with Cory rather than Chris Johnston, is the fact that Chris’ player percentage is significantly higher than Cory’s. It’s really a toss-up between the two Johnston brothers in Bucket A. With that said, Bucket A is loaded with numerous smallmouth killers.
BUCKET B: LESTER
Every time I think about the St. Lawrence River, the thought of Brandon Lester losing the winning fish at the boat in 2017 is one of the first thoughts that comes to mind. I vividly remember Davy Hite slamming the desk in the Marathon Bassmaster Studio while watching the loss knowing just how big that moment was. With that said, Lester had a less-than-stellar finish here last season, but look for him to bounce back this time around. Also, Lester is only at a 1.3% player percentage.
Solid secondary selection: It was really a toss-up in Bucket B for me between Lester and Taku Ito. With so little experience fishing for smallmouth, it’s truly incredible how good Ito is at targeting them. Bucket B is also loaded with plenty of other dominant smallmouth fisherman such as Jeff Gustafson, Chris Zaldain, Chad Pipkens and Brock Mosley.
BUCKET C: MORGENTHALER
Bucket C was a rather tricky bucket to choose from, but I’m going with Chad Morgenthaler. Once potential work downs are factored in, Morgenthaler is roughly 10 to 15 spots out of Classic cut. This should be a huge motivator for Morgenthaler to shoot for a Top 10 like he had last season at the St. Lawrence River.
Solid secondary selection: Coming off of his best finish of the season, expect Keith Combs to have another solid event. The Texas pro has had success on the St. Lawrence in the past with three Top 10s.
BUCKET D: MICAH FRAZIER
Every time I’ve selected Micah Frazier this season, it hasn’t gone well at all, but I’m going to roll the dice again to end the season. The five-time Classic qualifier is way back in AOY points and would need to win this event to make the Classic. On a place that he’s won before, you can bet he’s going to go for it.
Solid secondary selection: Paul Mueller came extremely close to winning at the St. Lawrence River in 2020 and is one of the best on tour at utilizing his electronics. If you don’t mind the high player percentage, Mueller is a solid pick in Bucket D.
BUCKET E: HOLLEN
For the second event in a row, I’m going with Cody Hollen in Bucket E. The Oregon pro seems to be comfortable fishing for smallmouth and now has a few solid finishes to prove it. The St. Lawrence didn’t treat Hollen too well in 2020, but hopefully he will have some momentum coming into the final event of the season after a top 25 at Champlain.
Solid secondary selection: You wouldn’t normally associate a Florida angler to be a strong northern fisherman, but Bernie Schultz has proved that theory wrong. The Elite Series veteran has three top 20 finishes on the St. Lawrence River.