After an absolute trainwreck of a Fantasy Fishing week for me at the Bassmaster Classic in Knoxville, it’s time for a rebound. None of the anglers I picked made the final day cut at the Classic, which was a killer.
Lake Hartwell should be a shot in the arm with some springtime fishing. There was still some chill in the air for practice conditions, but the long winter should finally melt away with warmer temperatures later in the week.
We saw a Lake Hartwell explosion at last year’s Classic as the fish were on their way to the bank, and we should see much of the same this year.
BUCKET A: CANTERBURY
My pick: Scott Canterbury
Scott Canterbury has himself in great position after the first two Elite Series events of 2019. Lake Hartwell could set up well for his flipping/pitching skills around all of its shallow targets. In four trips to Hartwell with the FLW Tour, Canterbury had three finishes in the Top 50 and just one outside of check range. All of the events were earlier in the year. His best finish was toward the end of March, which resembles more of the conditions anglers will experience this week.
Considered: Drew Cook/Brad Whatley
It’s so very hard to not pick Brandon Cobb, the angler who lives closest angler to Hartwell. Yet with fishing probably being wide open, it doesn’t always bode well for the hometown angler. So, I’m considering Drew Cook and Brad Whatley, purely for their sight fishing ability as well as their tendencies to cover a lot of water.
BUCKET B: LEHEW
My pick: Shane Lehew
I’m going status quo from my Lake Lanier pick with Lehew. Between his dock-fishing ability and knowledge around Hartwell, things should be right up his alley. At 2-percent ownership, I feel I have to put chips in his corner to make up ground in Fantasy Fishing.
Clark Wendlandt lives in Texas, which is a long way from Lake Hartwell, but his success has translated to the South Carolina fishery. In his two most recent professional events at Hartwell, he took 33rd and second. Whether it’s sight fishing or prespawn power fishing, he should be comfortable. Wendlandt is used to covering water on clearer lakes with his experience on Lake Travis in Austin, Texas.
BUCKET C: MENENDEZ
My pick: Mark Menendez
With big ownership percentages gobbled up by Keith Combs, Hank Cherry and even Paul Mueller, Mark Menendez should be someone to keep your eye on to steal some points. Menendez is known for fishing a spinnerbait and even shallow cranking, which could be in play if this most recent cold front in the Carolinas make a prespawn bite shine.
Considered: Bill Lowen
It’s in Bill Lowen’s blood to find the shallowest areas on a given body of water to do his bidding. This week that could be the perfect storm for the Indiana pro. There should be some prime areas where the plethora of shallow cover are all occupied by bass spawning, ready to spawn or poking around during a warm and sunny day.
BUCKET D: MOSLEY
My pick: Brock Mosley
Mosley is due for a great event. Around this time in 2018 he put a spinnerbait to work and did very well at Grand Lake. This could be a prime recipe for him at Hartwell. The fish are getting active and shallow and, with the seemingly prevalent dog fennel on Hartwell, we could see some fireworks on Bassmaster LIVE.
Considered: Randy Pierson
The 2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Champion may not have another fishery on the schedule that closely resembles some of the clear California lakes like Lake Hartwell. Pierson had a lot of logistics to get the season started, and the excitement of the Bassmaster Classic opportunity may have been on his mind, which is a reality for most anglers. Now that the Classic is behind him, he can concentrate on going full steam ahead in his attempt to get back to next year’s Classic.
BUCKET E: KREIGER
My pick: Koby Kreiger
When you say sight fishing, other anglers may come to mind immediately, but Koby Kreiger should be included. He is a fantastic sight fisherman and is actually good with a spinning rod and finesse tactics around docks, even though he resides in Florida. He could be a sneaky Bucket E pick.
Considered: Jake Whitaker
Jake Whitaker’s history on Hartwell is long and expansive. It’s a lake he has cut his teeth on growing up, and it’s setting up the way he hoped it would. I was fully prepared to pick him once again since he was the highest Classic finisher on my team. But looking at a whopping 40-percent ownership, I had to steer away. He should be a favorite for this event like he was at the Toyota AOY Championship in 2018 when he took home Rookie of the Year honors.