We’re coming into my favorite part of the year when the bass are in all phases of the spawn. At Grand, there are fish staging to come up, there are fish on beds and there are some guarding fry, all depending on what part of the lake you might choose to fish.
Here’s my prediction: This lake has been on fire the last few weeks, and it’s setting up to be an absolute slugfest. After relatively lighter weights in both the first Elite event on Martin and at the Classic on Hartwell, these guys are ready to go out and put a hammerlock on some big ole bucket mouth ditch donkeys.
There have been a few 30-pound bags recorded in recent weeks. We probably won’t see a bag of that caliber, but on Grand, it’s definitely possible. I am also going to predict that the south end of the lake will not play as much as the mid section and north end will. So definitely count on the guys who love to fish dirty, shallow water to find consistent quality fish, but mix in a few offshore anglers as well.
BUCKET A: ELAM
My Pick: James Elam
I learned my lesson from my buddy Thomas Allen at the Classic by not picking Elam. He is an Oklahoma boy who knows this lake well. He won an Open last year on this very body of water, although it was in October. He made a solid run at the Classic and landed 11th giving him some momentum going into Grand.
Don’t Forget: Brett Hite
A bladed jig could absolutely make a showing at Grand — especially way up in the mud. This time of year, it’s a deadly bait, and if Hite can find a good population of fish, we could see some fireworks. He did not have a good Classic showing in 2016, but it’s a different body of water in April than it is in February.
BUCKET B: CHRISTIE
My Pick: Jason Christie
There are plenty of guys that deserve a win. And I know that Jason has won a few events in his relatively short B.A.S.S. career, but he has also endured some painful near misses in the last few years. I can’t help but pull for this guy. He is an Oklahoma angler who loves this lake and always makes a showing. In the last two Classics here, he finished seventh and second. His FLW resume is just as stout including a win in 2013. He will without a doubt land his faithful Fantasy Fishing supporters some solid points. I can’t let myself be on the bad end of that bet.
Don’t Forget: Aaron Martens
There’s a really good chance that Aaron Martens will post a top five finish in this event. Every time he has fished a B.A.S.S. event on this body of water, he has been in the top 15 with one exception, a 28th-place finish in the 2013 Classic. He clearly knows how these Oklahoma fish think, and he’ll be on ‘em.
BUCKET C: EVERS
My Pick: Edwin Evers
I’d be a fool to not consider the winner of the 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake. He is not far from home and has more than just the Classic win under his belt. He has a third, fourth and 25th in other events here. He is also due for a good tournament as his last Top 12 outside of a Classic was Toledo Bend in 2016. This is a perfect time for him to show up in a big way. I am scrapping my need for low-owned picks because at this point, I just need points, and he is a shoe-in for a good finish.
Don’t Forget: Mike McClelland
There are not many more accomplished jig fishermen on the Elite Series than McClelland. He has been a top-pick at every event so far this season. He has some decent momentum after a 19th place finish at Hartwell. He has a stout history here too including a win and a slew of Top 12 finishes. If he can locate some underwater hotels holding those pre- and post-spawn bass, it could be lights out.
BUCKET D: K. VANDAM
My Pick: Kevin VanDam
Like I wrote when I was picking for the Sabine before it was rescheduled, this has to be the most stacked Bucket D I’ve ever seen. KVD is more focused than ever and is ready to record win No. 25. He’s been fishing Grand Lake for decades and has a win and several Top 12s. Cranking could absolutely be a factor and there is no better horse to bet on in a crankin’ tournament than the G.O.A.T.
Don’t Forget: Brandon Palaniuk
There are areas on Grand where these fish stop on the way in and out of the spawning grounds. If Palaniuk decides to fish offshore, it’s hard not to pick him as a favorite. His ability to pick apart offshore structure is second to none and could help him end near the top; maybe even the very top. If KVD weren’t in this bucket, Palaniuk would absolutely be my go-to pick here.
BUCKET E: COMBS
My Pick: Keith Combs
It’s not a long drive from Huntington, Texas, to Grand Lake, and you can rest assured that Combs will have put in some time here. Also, no matter how the fish are set up, there’s not a scenario or technique that he is not privy to. He could find them deep on structure and throw a crankbait or jig or he could run up to the shallow water and flip. He is certainly a safe bet here on Grand. He only has one recorded finish on Grand in B.A.S.S., a ninth in the 2016 Classic.
Don’t Forget: Ish Monroe
If the big ones show up shallow, the Beastmaster might lay the smack down on ‘em. Both flipping and frogging are viable options for this tournament. The problem with Ish is that he doesn’t fish for keepers. If he can land five bites, they very well could be the right ones to help him make a deep run.