Fantasy: Mix up local anglers and finesse experts on Havasu

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — The California Delta was not a fun place for my Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team, and I completely misjudged the importance of local knowledge on a fishery like the Delta.

Like many anglers thought last week at the Delta, they were in areas they could be successful, but they just didn’t make it happen. The same can be said for my team; I had an inkling of what was going to happen, but to the extent I completely whiffed on.

This week is almost guaranteed to give me a bounce-back effort from my worst Fantasy performance ever.

Lake Havasu is certainly closer to the finesse side of the spectrum than that of the Cal Delta, although power fishing proved to be a player in a Rayovac event here earlier in the year. These fish should be in postspawn territory and, with the Arizona heat and Havasu’s clear water, fish will be deeper.

Here are my picks:

Bucket A

Conservative pick: Aaron Martens

So you’re telling me that Aaron Martens can come so close to winning the Delta and then turn around and fish a completely opposite fishery and possibly do well? Yeah, he’s just that good. Havasu is deep and clear, two things that Martens excels at. Look for Martens to feel right at home on Havasu and put together a solid enough pattern with only two days of practice to do it in.

Dark Horse pick: Mike Iaconelli

By his words, Mike Iaconelli is mad at the fish and a tad PO’ed at his performance on the California Delta. I think that if someone can find enough fish doing multiple things, it can be Ike. Junking around and catching fish shallow and deep could be a factor this week especially with limited time to find a megaload of fish in one certain area.

Count me in. I’ll go Ike and possibly get some redemption.

Bucket B

Conservative pick: Brent Ehrler

For the same reasons I think Aaron Martens could do well, I believe Ehrler will as well. Fishing offshore on deep, clear reservoirs is what it takes at times during the heated parts of the spring and summer. Ehrler is the guy for that task.

Dark Horse pick: Jeff Kriet

Last season, I asked anglers at the AOY Championship to pick which anglers were the best at doing specific techniques. Kriet came up on multiple occasions as one of the best offshore finesse fishermen. He is a versatile angler and certainly has the patience to drag a shaky head around and milk an area for what it’s worth.

I feel like I need to go with Ehrler on this one, but with 45 percent of people picking him, I’m really not gaining much by going with the crowd. Let’s see how Kriet does.

Bucket C

Conservative pick: Brett Hite

Going conservative here probably means picking the one angler in the bucket who lives close to Havasu. Brett Hite catches them everywhere the Elites go, and he can do it in numerous ways.

Dark horse pick: Micah Frazier

The rookie from Newnan, Ga., has already made a 12-cut in his short Elite career thus far, and I think this event could set up well for him. The rookie qualified for the 2015 Elites through the Northern Opens. Frazier cashed a check at both Douglas Lake and Lake Champlain. He finished fourth in the points and was just behind Ott DeFoe and Aaron Martens. Fishing around lakes like Lanier, West Point and others, I’d say he is more than comfortable fishing deep or figuring out a way on clearer fisheries.

Give me Micah Frazier as a wildcard this week.

Bucket D

Conservative pick: Josh Bertrand

With anglers like Brandon Palaniuk and John Murray in this bucket, people will overlook my pick this week: Josh Bertrand.

Bertrand is an Arizona angler and earlier this year he finished second in a Rayovac on this very body of water. Yes, it was a different time of the year, but when you know a body of water; it shows.

Dark horse pick: Byron Velvick

Man, this one is tempting, but truly a wildcard. Byron Velvick, swimbaits, clear water, postspawn bass. This is really tempting. I think he could do well on this body of water. He resides in Nevada and knows how to catch big bass on a swimbait this time of the year.

I expect Bertrand to light it up and do well in his home state. I will go local with this pick.

Bucket E

Conservative pick: Kevin Hawk

Kevin Hawk is a very underrated finesse angler on the Elite Series. His patience and finesse approach should suit him well here. Really interested to see who the other players from this bucket could be, but if Hawk does well this week, I won’t be surprised.

Dark Horse pick: Steve Kennedy

For the same reasons that I almost picked Byron Velvick are why I will gamble on Steve Kennedy. If you say fish and swimbait in the same sentence, Steve Kennedy’s name isn’t far behind. I expect a bounce-back tournament from how he has started this season. A 91st, 102nd and 49th aren’t really a good representation of  Kennedy, and I think this fishery could get him on the right track.

War Eagle! I’m taking Steve Kennedy, the swimbait-slingin’ angler.