Picking a squad for General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops might be the easiest of any event this season, but it can somehow also be the most difficult. Picking 10 guys out of a 30-angler field gives you a good chance of stacking up some serious pounds if you can perfect the one-in-three selections. On the other hand, picking a few of the wrong guys will undoubtedly kill your chances of doing well.
Because of this, I’m going with a handful of big-bass specialists and the staples who are fishing well everywhere they go. Another wrinkle is that this event is back to the every-fish-counts, so I’ll also consider that.
Dakota Ebare and Jacob Wheeler will be on my roster regardless of the lake, format or time of year. Everyone else will likely pick them, so even if they do poorly, it shouldn’t affect the fantasy standings too much. Make it every-fish-counts with the chance to stack up fish with forward-facing sonar and Ebare and Wheeler are no-brainers.
Wheeler crushed the field at Caney Creek last year to kick off the season and could easily do it again this time around. Ebare is originally from Louisiana but reportedly has yet to fish Caney Creek or Bussey Brake. Still, being back home in the Pelican State can’t hurt.
Even though Bradley Roy won Stage One here last year, one of the biggest stories was Randy Howell‘s back-to-back record-breakers. He boated a personal-best 10-pound, 11-ounce bass on Caney Creek only to beat it the next day. His 12-14 from Bussey Brake became his new personal best and a Bass Pro Tour record.
After finishing near the bottom of the Bally Bet Angler of the Year standings in 2021, that event kick-started Howell. Since then, he’s been fishing great and should do well here with that added momentum.
Since Heavy Hitters began in 2020, Fletcher Shryock has been a fixture at the event. He’s stated how important the event is for him because it fits his style of going for big ones with heavy tackle. The results back it up, as he’s cashed in and qualified for all four events to date.
He finished 12th in 2020, eighth in 2021, and fourth last year. Shryock also landed a 9-4 at Jordan Lake at the 2021 edition. He’s been in the hunt yearly and I don’t believe that will change this year.
Last year at Heavy Hitters, Alton Jones, Jr. didn’t win but still earned quite a bit more money than Ott DeFoe did for winning the event. “Junior” cashed two mega big-bass checks that totaled $150,000 and proved that he has what it takes to catch big ‘uns. He also has the mindset to repeat that success this year in Louisiana. Jones finished a pedestrian 34th last year at Stage One, but it was a different time of year. If postspawn fish are eating a big swimbait or glide bait, look out. Junior is one of the best on tour at getting bass to bite those big baits, and it could fall right into his wheelhouse.
Zack Birge has succeeded in this specialty tournament, finishing sixth in 2020, 11th in 2021, and eighth last year. He’s due for a big win on the Bass Pro Tour, which could be this year at Heavy Hitters.