Fantasy Fishing: Pick pros who will make long runs and risky decisions

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James Overstreet

Winyah Bay in Georgetown, S.C., should lay out like the Sabine River. This won’t be the “Sabine River of 2015,” but rather the 2013 version. With no prior knowledge of this fishery for most anglers, this could set up as the toughest tournament of the year.

Expect long runs and risky decisions to play a factor when choosing your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing teams.

BUCKET A: Hackney

Safe bet: Greg Hackney

Consistency is key in bass fishing, and over the last few years, Greg Hackney has caught them anywhere and everywhere he has been. With Hackney finishing second place at the St. Johns River, he will have the right kind of mojo to take into a possible tough tournament at Winyah Bay.

Worth a risk: Mike McClelland

This sport comes with some risks, including where to spend the majority of your fishing time in a tournament. If Winyah Bay indeed sets up like the Sabine, then a long run may be in order. Mike McClelland is already in tune mentally to make that gamble. We saw it pay off in Orange, Texas, so it could yield similar results in South Carolina.

Gut tells me: Hackney

Momentum, consistency, shallow water and Greg Hackney: Those all add up to a smart decision to go with the Hack Attack. Who knows? He may be on his way to another possible Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year run like in 2014.

BUCKET B: Lowen

Safe bet: Ish Monroe

The word “grinder” will get used a lot when it comes to Winyah Bay, but I expect Ish Monroe to be one of those anglers who will be able to change areas and figure out the fish each day with subtle adjustments. When the Elites went to the Sabine for the first time, Monroe was a big player, and I would expect the same this time.

Worth a risk: Bill Lowen

Bill Lowen has made a name for himself as a model of consistency over his career. With Winyah Bay being a shallow tidal fishery, it should line up in Lowen’s wheelhouse as a flipper’s dream. His Ohio River secrets may come out to play once again like they did at the Chesapeake last year. Anything short of a Top 51 in this event would genuinely surprise me.

Gut tells me: Lowen

I have to side with Lowen and his place as a mainstay in the Top 50. There is something about his composure and ability to maximize every bite he gets throughout a tournament. That will be key at Winyah.

BUCKET C: Frazier

Safe bet: Aaron Martens

No real justification is needed anytime you select Aaron Martens. The three-time Angler of the Year was the first angler to miss the cut at the St. Johns, but Martens should be a force throughout this season. If someone is going off the wall in this event, I bet on Martens making it stick.

Worth a risk: Micah Frazier

Micah Frazier has put in the scouting work it takes to figure out new fisheries, so he will know the playing field when he arrives to Georgetown. The second-year Elite Series pro has a vast array of skills, but we watched his patience grow at the Sabine last year when he notched a Top 12. People may have underrated his skills and ability to compete when he made the switch, but Frazier showed last season why he is a threat on the Elite Series.

Gut tells me: Frazier

Something tells me Frazier will find some water that he feels is good and grind it out in that area. Winyah Bay is big, and if anglers get caught running around too much their tournament may end more quickly than expected.

BUCKET D: Herren

Safe bet: Matt Herren

Some heavy hitters are in Bucket D, including the Lane brothers, Jacob Powroznik and a few more, so Matt Herren’s ownership will likely be lower than normal. Flipping shallow cover and picking apart Winyah Bay could mean a payday for Herren. His skills certainly line up with how this tournament could be dominated.

Worth a risk: Adrian Avena

Adrian Avena said there were some nervous feelings involved in his first Elite Series event, but with one under his belt, he is now headed to another tidal fishery; one that can play to his skill set and knowledge. Yes, the St. Johns River is tidal, but it isn’t something Avena may have been used to, plus sight fishing was a big deal in Florida. Here he can better break down the tide and fish the way he likes.

Gut tells me: Herren

Ownership percentage is a big key here for me. With a lot of viable options in Bucket D, Herren may get overlooked, but I’ll take that for my team.

BUCKET E: C. Davis

Safe bet: Dave Lefebre

Dave Lefebre finished 96th in his first Elite Series event, but don’t expect that to be a trend for the seasoned pro. Lefebre has made a name for himself in professional bass fishing and I expect a rebound performance from him. His career has shown his ability. The St. Johns was a fluke in my opinion.

Worth a risk: Clent Davis

If you haven’t watched Clent Davis toss a spinnerbait around on his social media platforms, then you’re missing out. A spinnerbait could be big at Winyah Bay, and this Elite rookie should feel at home on a river-type fishery. It isn’t near his home in Alabama, but flipping and chunking a spinnerbait should reign supreme.

Gut tells me: Davis

Florida gets the best of some of the best bass anglers, so don’t make assumptions of an angler’s skill set after just one Florida event. You shouldn’t have to scroll far to see Davis’ name this time around.