My GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods picks didn’t fare so well, and it puzzled me completely. I tried to stay out of danger in the Classic by picking a versatile lineup that could adapt to the numerous patterns that would be in play, which wasn’t completely wrong, but it seemed like feast or famine at Conroe. There wasn’t really an in-between. None of my picks made the Top 25 cut and went as follows: 26th, 30th, 41st, 43rd and 44th.
That dropped me from the 80th percentile to 64th so Toledo will be a crucial tournament for my Fantasy Fishing season. To perform well, I’m going to stand on the fence and pick anglers that excel at different styles because I’d expect plenty of prespawn, spawn and a some postspawn action in this event.
BUCKET A: WILLIAMSON
My pick: Jason Williamson
He has been on a roll to this point in the season and even made the final day cut at Conroe for the Classic. Williamson loves to flip and swim a jig so Toledo seems like a good place for him to have another high finish.
Watch out for: Jason Christie
This could end up being a Dardanelle situation for Christie. He hasn’t had a near win in a little while (I don’t count the Potomac event even though he finished second). Christie is just one of those guys that is due another Top 12 finish and maybe even a shot at a win.
BUCKET B: ASHLEY
My pick: Casey Ashley
He has made a check in three of his four Elite events at Toledo Bend and has been in the Top 12 twice including in 2014. I say 2014 because I feel this year’s Elite will be more similar to that event than the 2016 KVD win down in Many, Louisiana.
Watch out for: Mark Davis
He goes under the radar a lot nowadays, but he is as solid as they come when fishing for postspawn bass. His slower approach tends to maximize areas that other anglers cruise through.
BUCKET C: KENNEDY
My pick: Steve Kennedy
He has Power-Poles now! I say that half joking, but in all seriousness if he’s been this effective without them then he could be even deadlier with them. Conroe proved that in the first tournament he had them. With the pounding winds and rough water, Kennedy was able to fish his water all the way to a near win and a second-place finish.
Watch out for: Brett Hite
Is another Top 12 in-store for B. Hite this year? Given the time of the year, he should have both prespawn and post spawn fish at his bladed jig’s disposal.
BUCKET D: SCROGGINS
My pick: Terry Scroggins
Scroggins is bound to connect the big bat to the ball in one of these flipping tournaments. With a pretty good event at Cherokee doing something opposite of his style and falling flat at Okeechobee, I’d expect him to knock one out of the park at Toledo or Sam Rayburn. I’ll go with the Big Show at this one.
Watch out for: Cliff Crochet
He managed to catch a big stringer on Day 1 of the Classic while fishing how he prefers, and Toledo should be more of the same. He knows the Bend much better than Conroe and that can only help him when it comes time to run around and duplicate his bite.
BUCKET E: BENTON
My pick: Drew Benton
Sight fishing. If there is a bed fish to be caught, Drew Benton will probably see it. In all seriousness, Benton is due for a good one just like Scroggins. He managed to make the final day of the Classic in his first time and will hopefully carry that momentum over to Toledo Bend.
Watch out for: Morizo Shimizu
I think a “reeler” like Morizo will be able to get a reaction bite going. Whether it’s on a topwater hard bait or even a vibrating jig, I’d expect Shimizu to show up big in this one.