Everything is bigger in Texas, which includes Sam Rayburn and the stringers that fishery has been producing in 2017. The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series came to Rayburn back in January and there were plenty of big bags to go around. The Top 7 teams all had over 50 pounds after three days of competition and the winning duo busted not one, but two 28+ pound bags.
The Elite Series should hit Rayburn when the offshore fishing is wide open. That doesn’t guarantee that everyone will smoke them, because we often know how offshore tournaments operate at times.
After a solid team at Ross Barnett (three anglers in the Top 15), let’s hope I can roll that mojo into the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Elite Series event. I expect the winning weight to scare the heck out of 100 pounds, but probably come up slightly short and settle in the 90’s.
BUCKET A: EVERS
My pick: Evers
The 2016 Bassmaster Classic champion has had a productive 2017, but has yet to make a Top 12. His consistency will be rewarded with possibly one of the best offshore events this year. If you believe in trends, Edwin Evers has gotten better with every Elite event so far. (56th, 44th, 25th and 24th)
Watch out for: J. Lee
The reigning Classic champion is having a solid year and is 21st in Toyota Angler of the Year. If he didn’t come away with a check here I would be thoroughly shocked. Jordan Lee can implement all of his techniques that netted him the Classic trophy.
BUCKET B: LESTER
My pick: Lester
Brandon Lester loves fishing offshore. Throwing a crankbait, big worm and Carolina Rig seem to be his favorite techniques, so I can translate his strengths into a great finish at Sam Rayburn.
Watch out for: Combs/Swindle
These two anglers combined for 10 Top 12’s in 2016, but have yet to notch one in 2017. Whether it’s local favorite Keith Combs or junk-fishing Gerald Swindle, one should fair well at Rayburn.
BUCKET C: BERTRAND
My pick: Bertrand
Josh Bertrand should be licking his chops for this event. After Ross Barnett dealt Bertrand another tough finish he is probably excited to put his electronics to use and look for schools of bass offshore down in Lufkin, Texas.
Watch out for: Frazier
Purely a hunch here, but Micah Frazier seems to do well during summertime events. A lot of his finishes on the Tennessee River show his excellence offshore and Rayburn could be much of the same. With a low ownership percentage, Fantasy Fishing players could benefit from an under-the-radar pick like Frazier.
BUCKET D: KRIET
My pick: Kriet
With so many tournaments based around the spawn and shad spawn this year, Rayburn shouldn’t have either in play. During the tricky postspawn time of the year, Jeff Kriet isn’t afraid to pick up a shaky head and catch a pile of fish. With big ones swimming everywhere at Rayburn, Kriet’s shaky head and offshore tools should get plenty of action.
Watch out for: Crochet/Lintner
If there is one angler to catch them shallow, my money is on Cliff Crochet. He seems to do it often this year, pairing two great shallow-water days together is the key though. Another interesting pick would be Jared Lintner who is a roommate with Kriet and Mike McClelland. Don’t be surprised if all three are fishing on Day 3.
BUCKET E: ZALDAIN
My pick: Zaldain
It’s very uncommon to see anglers like Chris Zaldain and Justin Lucas in BUCKET E this late in the year, but with some time off after Ross Barnett and a change in pattern types at Rayburn, I fully expect a bounce back.
Watch out for: Lucas
Justin Lucas has two Top 12’s in Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Opens this year, but hasn’t made a Day 3 in an Elite Series event. Like I said before, that should change. His finishes have gotten steadily better every event and is primed to make a cut at Sam Rayburn.