Of course every single angler on the Bassmaster Elite Series wants to win every single event. And every single Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing player wants to win every time as well. The title of this piece implies hunger for an overdue victory.
You’ll also notice that my Fantasy selections for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River presented by Econo Lodge also represent the need to re-establish themselves in one way or another. Either they’ve experienced great success — even wins — in the past, but it’s been a long time, or these anglers might be looking to take home their first blue trophy.
Regardless, everyone knows the Sabine is a tough fishery where 10 pounds across two days could earn a $10,000 check. Fishable water is also reduced to the Texas side only, making options even slimmer.
I think work ethic will be critical here, too. My choices reflect that in every sense of the word.
Let’s get to it.
BUCKET A: LUCAS
He said 2017 was his worst year ever. Justin Lucas isn’t scared to admit it, and I don’t know many anglers who hate to lose more than he does. His work ethic is impeccable, and he is looking to seriously improve on last year’s performance to earn a berth back to the 2019 Classic. After a solid sixth-place finish at Lake Martin, and a 10th-place at Sabine in 2015, I don’t think you can go wrong with Lucas.
Dark horse: Dustin Connell has been pretty consistent lately, and he’s a renowned river rat, which are skills that will certainly play at Sabine this year.
BUCKET B: M. LEE
I believe watching his younger brother Jordan win his first Classic greatly motivated Matt Lee. Following that epic win, the elder Lee brother enjoyed a tremendous 2017 season, which landed him back at the 2018 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Lake Hartwell. His momentum is swinging upward, and he’s really come into his own as a pro angler on the top level of the sport.
This dude knows how to work, knows how to find and catch big bass, and his never-say-die attitude will keep him in the hunt at this year’s visit to Sabine River.
Dark horse: Jason Christie has pretty strong ownership, as does Greg Hackney, but this style of fishing plays to both anglers very well. I think it’s a safe bet to place your bets on either pony.
BUCKET C: MCCLELLAND
Posting a second and 11th place finishes at both previous visits to the Sabine, Mike McClelland is very likely to do well again this time around. He’s also not enjoyed an Elite Series victory since 2014, when he won on Table Rock. This veteran angler knows the Sabine fishery, and knows what it takes to win. I think he’s a solid pick, and a deal at just under 13 percent owned.
Dark horse: Not only does Brandon Lester now have a new mouth to feed in his house (he’s a brand-new daddy of a beautiful baby girl, March 26), but he’s also done well at Sabine posting a solid fourth-place finish in 2015. You can expect another check out of the young Tennessee angler.
BUCKET D: LOWEN
Lowen has been quiet last year and this season, so far. Plus he missed the Classic. He’s mad, and he’s one of the finest shallow-water sticks on tour. I think at some point, you’ll see the rebirth of one of the Elite Series’ most consistent anglers, and it might as well be Sabine.
Dark horse: I could see Gerald Swindle winning this sucker, and I might swap Lowen for G-Man before things get started. But if neither of those choices tickles your fancy, this event also has Matt Herren written all over it.
BUCKET E: FEIDER
Seth Feider has risen to a dominant angler over the past two seasons, and I think you'll see him continue that trend at Sabine. It's a tough fishery, no doubt, but the young Minnesota pro has proven he can catch bass in tough southern fisheries, such as Ross Barnett. I believe in the "stache", do you?
Dark horse: Overall, Bucket E might be the toughest to choose from right now. With Jacob Wheeler dominating the ownership in this bucket, you can't overlook him. He's very talanted, and is usually a factor in every tournametn. I expect to see him put the pedal to the floor after a very dismal finish at Alabama's Lake Martin in February.