FANTASYFISHING.COM INSIDER: Crafty picks for Douglas & Cherokee Lakes - Major League Fishing
FANTASYFISHING.COM INSIDER: Crafty picks for Douglas & Cherokee Lakes
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FANTASYFISHING.COM INSIDER: Crafty picks for Douglas & Cherokee Lakes

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FantasyFishing.com Insider, Tyler Brinks, gives his picks for Stage Two on Douglas & Cherokee Lakes
March 16, 2023 • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour

Fresh off of another great REDCREST, the anglers had a short break before practice started at U.S. Air Force Stage Two Presented by Power-Pole in Tennessee on Wednesday. It’s a quick turnaround for them and for us fantasy managers, so we’ll jump right into picking our teams for Douglas and Cherokee Lakes. For this tournament, I’m opting for some locals, those with momentum and a few who’ve fared well on the fisheries.

The tournament begins on Douglas Lake for the Qualifying Round before switching to Cherokee for the final two fishing days. Smallmouth are in both lakes, but Douglas should be more of a largemouth deal and the final rounds will likely be dominated by smallmouth. Because of this, I’m adding anglers who’ve proven they can finish high on smallmouth dominated waters.

Local flavor

With two lakes in play, strategy will come into play and local knowledge could be a big factor. Going with the obvious here, but Ott DeFoe and Jacob Wheeler should be must-picks. They both live in Tennessee and are regarded as two of the best in the field when it comes to strategy.

This event allows the anglers an extra day of practice, which they can use to fish in either of the lakes. Even DeFoe and Wheeler’s decisions about deciding which lakes to spend more time in during practice are likely to be calculated and give them what they feel is the best chance to win.

DeFoe lives in the area and has won three Bassmaster Opens on Douglas. He’s a near lock to advance from Douglas and he’s no slouch on Cherokee either, finishing 10th in a 2017 Elite Series tournament on Cherokee.

Another pro with an excellent track record on Cherokee is Wheeler. He won that Elite Series stop in 2017, as if you needed another reason to put him on your team.

Riding the momentum

Fresh off a fifth-place finish at REDCREST, Matt Lee is riding high coming right into Stage Two. He’s also sitting as the No. 63 angler in Group A, making him a solid sleeper pick for you. I expect a good year for Matt this year and he’s off to a great start.

Another sneaky pick is Dylan Hays, who’s fresh off a Top-10 finish at Stage One. He finished third in a 2019 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit stop on Cherokee and if he makes it to the Knockout Round, he could be very dangerous.

One more angler that’s fishing very well is Jesse Wiggins, who scored a Top 10 at Stage One and barely missed the final day on Lake Norman. He’s fishing how he wants to and it’s working for him. Besides his recent hot streak, he has also performed very well on Cherokee, finishing third in that 2017 Elite Series event that Wheeler won.

“Wildcards”

Since seeding is based on our first event on the Kissimmee Chain, there are some steals here, including Dustin Connell and Mark Daniels Jr. Both are sitting on my roster for a myriad of reasons. They each started uncharacteristically poorly, with Connell in 58th and Daniels in 67th in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year race. Odds are that they won’t stay there for long.

The other reason for picking these two is their skills with smallmouth. Connell proved he could catch smallies and win last year (more than once) and Daniels’ tour-level win in 2018 came on South Dakota’s Lake Oahe, which is nearly all smallies. I believe both will do enough at Douglas to advance to the Knockout Round and then, it’s anyone’s game and they both should be in contention at the end.