We’re back at it with a fun Fox Rent A Car Stage Three Presented by Mercury in store on Lake Murray. By many accounts, Stage Three should be a real shootout with plenty of big bass up along the bank. This makes picking your squad a little more challenging as you try to anticipate who can separate from the pack and capture those better-than-average fish it will take to move up SCORETRACKER®.
For this event, I’m going with anglers on the roll, some sight fishing specialists and those who’ve won on Lake Murray.
Until Dakota Ebare shows he’s human, I’m keeping him on my team for both the Bass Pro Tour and Tackle Warehouse Invitationals. He’s proving he can catch them everywhere, and I will keep picking him until he shows otherwise.
Ebare didn’t excel during the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit stop on Murray, but still managed to grab the last check handed out (78th place). I expect him to do better this time around.
Another angler fishing very well is Brent Ehrler, who’s sitting second in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year race. He’s also found success on Murray, finishing third in the 2014 FLW Forrest Wood Cup here. That was nearly a decade ago, not to mention in the month of August, but Ehrler knows the lake and has plenty of confidence coming into Stage Three.
There are locals and then there are dominant locals like Anthony Gagliardi, who lives on the shores of the lake. He’s won two tour-level events on the lake: a 2006 FLW Tour stop and the 2014 Forrest Wood Cup. Gagliardi finished second to Matt Becker in the 2021 Pro Circuit event held here.
Gagliardi’s résumé on Murray is stellar, and I think it would be crazy not to pick him for this one as he’s likely been counting down the days since the moment he saw the 2023 schedule. He’s also sitting below 40th in the points race, so he’s a steal for your Group A pick.
Becker won that 2021 event and he’s also on my fantasy team for Stage Three. That tournament was also in April, but a little later on the calendar. Becker caught them targeting bass feeding on spawning herring, which may or not happen again, but he knows the lake and is coming off a Top 10 at Stage Two. Becker has more than proven he belongs on the Bass Pro Tour and should do well this week.
It’s April in the Carolinas, and plenty of bass will be doing their thing. The field is made up of some stellar sight fishermen, but one of the best is Texas pro Alton Jones.
Jones has always been known as one of the best when looking at them and reinforced that at Heavy Hitters in 2021, one state up in North Carolina. The final day on Shearon Harris Reservoir was an Alton Jones sight fishing clinic as he easily walked away with the win. The time of year fits his style exceptionally well and he’s been fishing great everywhere he goes since that win two years ago.
You might as well add the younger Jones to your possible picks. “Junior” also loves to fish for bass he can see and his dad surely taught him some tricks over the years to get those fish to bite. You can’t go wrong with either of the Joneses and they both might end up in the Championship Round.