Fantasy: Pick pros who can fish when it's tough

This week’s event on the Delaware River is something different than what the Bassmaster Elite Series anglers face during a regular season. Keep that in mind when setting your Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing team.

The Delaware River can be described as an equivalent body of water to what anglers faced in Pittsburgh in 2005 and even in Chicago in 2000. The bite is expected to be tough and every fish will count. The smallest of keepers will make a huge difference in a Top 50 or finishing 70th.

Bucket A

Take John Crews…

…but keep an eye on Todd Faircloth.

John Crews has a considerable record when it comes to river systems. And even though all rivers aren’t created equal, one thing that it shows is that Crews can grind out weight in tough tournaments and make the needed adjustments when the river changes.

That will be key this week when the tide fluctuates. Another thing in his corner is that he doesn’t live too far from the Potomac River, which also revolves around tidal conditions. A shaky head will be key this week, and Crews is a good finesse fisherman.

The last time the Elite Series pros faced a low weight and very tough tournament on a river system, Todd Faircloth came out on top. In that Sabine River tournament, he averaged just less than 12 1/2 pounds per day. If he can achieve that weight per day, Faircloth might find his way high up the leaderboard.

Bucket B

Take Bill Lowen…

…but keep an eye on Ott Defoe.

For Bucket B, I’m going with a river rat. Bill Lowen has a proven track record on river systems and low weight tournaments, so this event should be right up his alley. Small crankbaits, shaky heads, target fishing and changing conditions every day should position Lowen in his comfort zone as much as this venue can.

Ott DeFoe has been on somewhat of a hot streak lately. In the last two months, he has finished in the Top 25 three times (Elite Series on Lake Dardanelle and two Northern Opens), and he took home a win among those finishes. It also helps that he posted a picture on Facebook of a very good fish during his practice, which has been hard to come by for the Elites during practice on the Delaware River.

Bucket C

Take Andy Montgomery…

…but keep an eye on Jeff Kriet.

Andy Montgomery is a solid jig/shaky head angler, and with so many targets to pitch/flip/skip and cast to, I think Montgomery could be successful this week.

Montgomery also has a track record for excelling in low weight events. He has a victory on Smith Lake in the Southern Opens, where it took just more than 11 pounds a day to win. The same can be said for his other Top 10s like at Lake Norman, West Point Lake and in 2012 at Smith Lake once again.

With good finishes for Jeff Kriet on the Sabine River and most recently the Red River, the “Squirrel” finds a way to build a solid pattern in these low weight events. It will be interesting to see who can keep their mind right during the dead periods of the tournament when bites are hard to come by.

Bucket D

Take Kevin Short…

…but keep an eye on Jason Williamson.

Kevin Short has had a tough season and one that he doesn’t probably want to remember. Outside of fishing, personal issues — such as the destruction of his home by a tornado — have cluttered his mind and have taken priority this season. He started the season strong with a Top 12 at Lake Seminole, but I think Short’s ability to navigate backwaters and find nooks and crannies should help him excel this week.

Instead of predominately focusing on shaky heads and finesse tactics, I could see a small crankbait in his hand, bouncing off the ample cover that the Delaware River provides.

Williamson has been a wildcard this season. To go with his three Top 25 finishes, he has two finishes 90th or worse. So don’t let his 68th place in the AOY standings fool you: He has more Top 12s this season than anyone else in Bucket D.

Bucket E

Take Fletcher Shryock…

…but keep an eye on Joe Sancho.

Fletcher Shryock hasn’t experienced the season he would have liked, but as the Elites head north, I could see Shryock finishing the season strong. After the hiatus since Chickamauga, Shryock has taken some time to do fun fishing and possibly bring some confidence into this event. One 3-pound fish can jump an angler up the standings, and Shryock could be that guy to turn it around.

Rookie Joe Sancho is taking his first season with the Elite Series on the chin, but the New York native is used to fishing around skyscrapers and weird objects floating in the water. I could see him finding his footing in the depths of the Delaware River.


Be sure to set your team before launch on Thursday morning, and discuss your picks in the new Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing group on Facebook.

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