Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing treated me nicely at Toledo Bend after an absolute trouncing at the Bassmaster Classic. Luckily, I picked four anglers that made the Day 3 cut and my fifth angler narrowly missed in 59th place. Casey Ashley anchored my team with a fourth-place finish in the event and the likes of Jason Williamson, Drew Benton and Steve Kennedy had finishes of 24, 27 and 37, respectively.
Ross Barnett should be much of the same, if I had to guess. It’s not much farther north than Toledo Bend so the fish should be going through similar stages of the spawn once the Elites launch there in late April. I’m not playing around at Barnett and am picking some shallow, dirty water dudes to continue my success.
BUCKET A: CREWS
My pick: John Crews
Whatever funk John Crews endured in 2016 was out of character for sure, and he is proving that this year. So far he has two Top 25’s and one 67th, which is far from a season killer.
Watch out for: Alton Jones
Ross Barnett has plenty of lily pads flats and shallow cover where a soft plastic stickbait will be a factor. If that is the case then you can almost guarantee the original Alton Jones will be in position for a good finish.
BUCKET B: B. LANE
My pick: Bobby Lane
With Brent Ehrler, Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers and Mike Iaconelli in this bucket, I suspect most people will overlook Bobby Lane. Coming off a tough Toledo Bend event, I expect him to bounce back. If I had to pick a winner of this event, it’d be Lane. I just feel it sets up well for his style.
Watch out for: Cliff Pace
Cliff Pace will be fishing in his home state, which doesn’t happen often. Pace is fishing well with three events in the books and he is in 35th in Toyota Angler of the Year.
BUCKET C: WILLIAMS
My pick: David Williams
At only 33,000 acres, Ross Barnett is one of the smaller lakes the Elite Series will compete on. Fishing behind or around other anglers will be a common occurrence, which means it could be a little tough. Williams is one of those grinders that has brought a limit to the scales every day of competition, but just hasn’t gotten a big bite. Ross Barnett could play to his strong suits.
Watch out for: Randall Tharp
You better believe the Honey Badger isn’t happy with how Toledo Bend went down. What’s even scarier is that Tharp has won on Ross Barnett back in 2013. Although it was in October, it doesn’t take much for Tharp to zone-in.
BUCKET D: BROWNING
My pick: Stephen Browning
Browning is one of those dirty water river rats, and although Ross Barnett is a lake, it can turn into a mud puddle in a hurry. Browning has fished four Bassmaster events on “The Rez,” as people call it, and hasn’t placed lower than 26th. Most recently he has a fifth and secod to his credit in 2015 and 2013. Need any other reasons?
Watch out for: Mark Menendez
We’ve seen Menendez win on Lake Dardanelle and do well on some other muddy fisheries so Ross Barnett could be in his wheelhouse. His methodical approach could be great fishing behind other anglers.
BUCKET E: ROUMBANIS
My pick: Fred Roumbanis
Going with Boom Boom in Bucket E. Roumbanis could power fish his way through this entire event if wanted to. Fish may be in the spawning phase, but the clarity probably won’t be conducive to sight fishing so “just fishing” may be in order.
Watch out for: Tommy Biffle
Ross Barnett just says Tommy Biffle. Shallow, dirty water fishing is right up his alley. He only has two Bassmaster tournaments to his credit here, but it helps that one was a Top 3 in 2015 and the other was a Top 20.