Fantasy Fishing: Ya Winyah some, ya loseyah some

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James Overstreet

So far, my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing picks have tanked. Can’t blame anyone, but those of you who read my column could easily blame me for being WAAAAYYY off base.

I’m not sorry.

What’s funny is that little voice in my head — Gerald as we’ve come to know him — actually had decent results from the St. Johns event. Perhaps I should have listened to him, he was right …

The beauty of bass tournaments is stats are fun to look at and analyze, but rarely do they hold any water once the first cast has been made. You can research and guess, but the reality is on any given day, any given angler has a shot at winning — even on the top levels of the sport.

However, after a poor showing, I am going to try and redirect the ship. In years past, I’ve been quite wrong on the first one or two events, but salvaged my season by the time the AOY championship comes around. At least that’s my plan …

This tournament is a difficult one to forecast. You can choose based on which anglers are from the area, or who has momentum on their side. But, knowing that it’s a tidal fishery helped me narrow down a few events in the past in which to refer.

I looked up the stats for the Delaware River in 2014 and the Chesapeake Bay in 2015. The results are pretty interesting.

Bucket A: Christie

Jason Christie finished in third place in 2014 on the Delaware River, he finished in 19th on the Chesapeake, second in this year’s Classic — obviously — and he finished in eighth place at the St. Johns River just last week. So, it’s clear he knows tidal fisheries, which seem foreign to his preferred style of fishing. That says he is quite accomplished at tackling unfamiliar water. He also has a tremendous amount of momentum coming into this event.

Second Choice:Greg Hackney

Greg Hackney has been fishing very well lately, and he did claim an eighth-place finish at Chesapeake last year. You really can’t go wrong betting on Hackney.

Dark Horse:Randall Tharp

Bucket B: Iaconelli

There is no better choice in Bucket B than Mike Iaconelli. He won the Delaware River having grown up on the dirty tidal river. He knows how to fish those systems, and I expect a quality showing out of Ike in South Carolina.

Gerald, however, is telling me that I should pick Stephen Browning. He has a point; Browning has done well before in a situation like this, but who knows? I really should do a better job at listening to the voices in my head, but I’m sticking with Ike.

Second Choice:Todd Faircloth

During the 2015 season, the Chesapeake is where Todd Faircloth turned his season around claiming a 17th-place finish. That may not sound like much, but it was significant to his season, and ultimately earned him a 2016 Classic berth. I’ve heard him say numerous times that he likes fishing tough events, and he historically does well when the Elite Series visits challenging fisheries.

Dark Horse:Stephen Browning

(I’m kinda listening to Gerald, just not completely.)

Bucket C: Pipkens

Chad Pipkens has done remarkably well at fisheries with strong similarities to Winyah Bay. In 2014 he finished 12th on the Delaware River, and in 2015 he finished third at Chesapeake Bay. Pipkens has been doing well lately, and he could very well sneak in and win this thing.

Gerald is telling me I’m crazy, because who won the Chesapeake last year? Well, the 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Aaron Martens, and Winyah Bay could really set up like the Chesapeake did.

Second Choice:Aaron Martens (I’m caving a little bit here…)

Dark Horse:Cliff Crochet

Bucket D: Powroznik

With two Top 25 finishes at the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay, Jacob Powroznik is the safest bet in Bucket D. He is nothing if he’s not consistent. Rarely do you see him with a poor finish.

Gerald is quiet; I’m guessing he agrees.

Second Choice:Chris Lane

Lane won the Sabine not too long ago. He’s a river guy and is a safe bet.

Dark Horse:Matt Herren

Bucket E: Morgenthaler

The final bucket is always difficult, but as AOY points position the anglers, you can basically throw momentum out the window. There are some quality choices here, especially based on experience. It’s not like Chad Morgenthaler to have a couple of rough tournaments in a row, and I think he’ll do well in North Carolina simply because he needs to, and he knows it.

Gerald is telling me that Brandon Card is a better choice, and honestly, he could be right.

Second Choice:Gary Klein

Can’t go wrong betting on experience. Gary Klein has fished all over the United States and done well on every type of fishery out there. He is long overdue for a win, and perhaps after Rick Clunn’s victory on the St. Johns River, there’s a good chance that the Old Guard has been revitalized.

Dark Horse:Shane Lineberger