Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing can be a fickle game at times, a game that isn’t for the faint of heart. Some days are up, some are down — and some are up and down at the same time. With two of my selections at Toledo Bend in the Top 12 and two that placed below 90th, this accurately sums up my season. Ish Monroe and Tommy Biffle were the stars of my team on The Bend.
Lake Texoma should be dominated deep, and that is where I’m placing all of my confidence. The high water level is a concern for all the field, but those who are proficient with a big worm or deep-diving crankbait. Numerous anglers took advantage of the week between Wheeler and Toledo Bend to pre-practice on Texoma, but with the water over 7 feet above full pool, they will see a different lake a couple weeks from now.
As of this writing, the water has dropped only a foot. That fact alone makes me shy away from the anglers who will be depending on a shallow bite.
BUCKET A: COMBS
Safe Bet: Keith Combs
With the water dropping to just above full pool, those fish that were shallow will have pulled off into deeper water in the coming weeks. Who better to find and catch deep schools of bass? Combs is one of the best in the game under those conditions.
Worth a Risk: Edwin Evers
Evers fished his first Top 12 of the regular season at Toledo Bend, and I think he is on track for another good showing just several hours northwest of the Bend at Lake Texoma. I bet he finds four days of solid limits offshore.
Gut tells me: Combs
I need a good finish in Bucket A (yes I’m still snake-bitten in Bucket A) so Combs is the safest bet I can think of.
BUCKET B: K. VANDAM
Safe Bet: Kevin VanDam
KVD has to be feeling good after an exciting win at Toledo Bend. Every year someone catches fire during the summer months and patterns the fish from lake to lake — I bet VanDam does just that at Texoma.
Worth a Risk: Brent Ehrler
I’ve never been to Lake Texoma, but there aren’t many lakes where I don’t trust Ehrler to do well on. From what I’ve heard Texoma can fish small, especially offshore, but I know crowds of anglers won’t shake Ehrler. I personally believe the time for Ehrler to hoist a trophy above his head is very near.
Gut tells me: VanDam
Over 80 percent of fantasy fishing players could pick KVD and I still wouldn’t care. This is that one time of the year when I’ll pick with my heart and disregard ownership percentage. VanDam, crankbaits and Texoma sound good to me.
BUCKET C: BERTRAND
Safe Bet: Adrian Avena
It seems that in his first five tournaments on the Elite Series, Adrian Avena is still finding himself and adjusting to the competition during his rookie season. He has two Top 20’s this year, one finish in the mid-50’s and two worse than 80th. One thing is for sure: Avena puts in the work needed during practice. He’s not shy about practicing daylight to dark, which will pay off big time for him going forward.
Worth a Risk: Josh Bertrand
Arizona angler Josh Bertrand seems to be chomping at the bit for the deep-water summer events. Deep water seems to be his specialty, and I think that will play at BASSfest.
Gut tells me: Bertrand
Both Avena and Bertrand have a low ownership percentage at the moment, so I’m fine with both anglers in this situation. I am going with Bertrand because of his overwhelming excitement for fishing deep over the next few months, plus he’s on the rise and really settling in as a pro.
BUCKET D: KRIET
Safe Bet: Jeff Kriet
Jeff Kriet knows Texoma well, and he lives just up the road in Ardmore, Okla. You can't get much safer than an angler who likes to fish deep on a lake that should set up to his strengths.
Worth a Risk: Tim Horton
Fishing offshore is Timmy Horton's deal. Numerous people have said it before, but his ability to catch multiple fish on a crankbait continually impresses me. I bet that he will take advantage of a good offshore bite and finish strong. There is no doubt that he is one of the best when it comes to scanning deep water with his electronics. It's only a matter of time until he puts it together deep this year.
Gut tells me: Kriet
Kriet knows this tournament is big for the rest of his season. He will show up and do well at this event.
BUCKET E: PIPKENS
Safe Bet: Chad Pipkens
There is something about Chad Pipkens and late season success that makes him a great pick from here on out. Last season Pipkens made a charge to qualify for the Classic after a slow start. It'll be hard to dig his way out of the hole this year, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and Texoma will setup in his favor.
Worth a Risk: Matt Lee
Matt Lee did pretty well at Toledo Bend. Good mojo can go a long ways for an angler’s confidence, and although most anglers in Bucket E are "struggling," someone does well in this bucket at every event. Why not the eldest Lee?
Gut tells me: Pipkens
This was a coin flip because both guys are in a similar situation this year, but they each have the ability to do well at Texoma.