I’m interested to see how the Winyah Bay event unfolds April 7-10, because the Bassmaster Elite Series field will have extensive boundaries to fish, including any of the five rivers feeding into the Bay.
Some will make long runs in order to find areas to themselves, while others who value more fishing time won’t be afraid to fish near other competitors.
My Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing picks for this event were made based on anglers who understand and excel on rivers and tidal fisheries, especially if they are strong shallow-water fisherman.
BUCKET A: ROJAS
My Pick: Dean Rojas
Dean Rojas is a highly accomplished river and shallow-water angler. He’s also an excellent sight fisherman, which may prove useful if there’s clear water to be found.
I feel bass will be in all three stages for this event: Prespawn, spawn and postspawn. I know Rojas will have a topwater frog in his hands at some point, and if he gets one or two big bites on a frog, that may be enough to give him the edge.
Seriously considered: Marty Robinson
Robinson is coming off two strong events (the Classic and St. Johns), and I know how much momentum and confidence comes into play when tournament fishing.
He’s also lives closer to Winyah Bay and its tributaries than most of the field, which doesn’t guarantee success, but certainly doesn’t hurt either.
BUCKET B: LOWEN
My Pick: Bill Lowen
Bill Lowen is a dominant shallow-river angler – one who picks up on the subtleties other anglers miss when fishing in current. He has a handful of single-digit finishes over the past few years on fisheries that resemble Winyah Bay, so I feel he’s a solid pick in Bucket B.
Seriously considered: Mike Iaconelli
I still have the 2014 Delaware River Elite event that Iaconelli won fresh in my mind. He’s one of the most experienced river and tidal-water anglers in the field, so he’s a legitimate threat.
BUCKET C: PIPKENS
My Pick: Chad Pipkens
I traveled for three seasons on the Elite Series (2013-2015) with “Pip” and I’ve never met anyone who works as thoroughly or consistently as he does when prepping for a tournament. It’s inspiring watching him work. I know he’s done his homework for this event, and I feel he’ll stand out using his shallow-water fishing skills this tournament.
Seriously considered: Steve Kennedy
If Kennedy has the option to run up a river he usually does. He’s a tactful, shallow-water angler who excels fishing in current, and he is a solid pick here.
BUCKET D: AVENA
My Pick: Adrian Avena
I know Adrian Avena – a B.A.S.S. rookie – didn’t get off to a great start on the St. Johns River, but his ability to break down and read tidal water is exceptional. I believe the “Jersey Boy” will use his experience wisely here, and put himself in a position to fish the final day.
Seriously considered: Jacob Powroznik
Powroznik is a dominant river and tidal angler who never has two bad events in a row. After a hiccup at the St. Johns, I expect him to fish well on the Bay.
BUCKET E: CARD
My Pick: Brandon Card
Card is an angler who’s not afraid to make quick decisions based on his instincts. Those instincts usually serve him well, such as when he squeezed through a tight tunnel on the Sabine River in 2013 to earn a Top 10 finish. I see Card relying on those instincts again at Winyah Bay.
Seriously considered: Clent Davis
Davis is a talented rookie who brings plenty of river experience into this event. He’s proven he can compete on the FLW Tour, and I feel he’ll prove the same on the Elite Series.