FANTASYFISHING.COM INSIDER: Interesting options abound on Chowan River - Major League Fishing

FANTASYFISHING.COM INSIDER: Interesting options abound on Chowan River

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The Chowan River provides intriguing questions for Fantasy Fishing managers. Anglers: Dave Lefebre, Martin Villa, David Dudley.
June 3, 2024 • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour

EDENTON, N.C. Ever since North Carolina’s Chowan River was announced on the 2024 Bass Pro Tour schedule, the field of 79 pros and fishing fans alike have had many, many questions. Namely: “Where is it?”, “How’s the fishing there?” and “How do you pronounce ‘Chowan’, anyway?”

With U.S. Air Force Stage Five presented by WIX Filters upon us, it’s time to answer those questions and pick your Phoenix Boats Fantasy Fishing squads.

First, read up on fellow FantasyFishing.com Insider Mitchell Forde’s preview of Stage Five for a good beginner’s guide to the Chowan River. This tributary of Albemarle Sound is unknown to just about everyone in the field, making it an intriguing event to follow. However, it can also be a little tricky to pick your fantasy teams for events like this, where there’s no history to base picks on.

I’m going to take a swing at it, though. I’m sitting in second place overall in the Phoenix Boats Fantasy Fishing standings for the Bass Pro Tour and would love to reclaim the No. 1 spot (I had a bad fantasy week at Heavy Hitters). Here’s a little insight on how I’m selecting my team for Stage Five.

Choosing the favorites

My strategy with this format of fantasy fishing – no matter the venue – is to pick a handful of anglers every tournament who are just proven producers – guys who I know are going to perform well for me. None of these are secrets, and chances are that almost everyone else will pick them, too. Still, adding Jacob Wheeler and Dustin Connell to your roster is just a solid move, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve combined to win four of the first six events of the season.

Some other names in my rotation at every event have been Matt Becker, Jesse Wiggins, Drew Gill and Alton Jones Jr. While I haven’t picked all of them for every event, they’ve all been on my roster more times than not, and that will be the case this week at the Chowan.

Riding the momentum

Two anglers who are having great seasons after a few down years are Dave LeFebre and Dean Rojas. They each scored a Top 10 at Stage Two on Santee Cooper and both had good showings at the most recent regular-season event on Oklahoma’s Lake Eufaula. One of the key factors at both of those events was ample shallow wood, and both Rojas and Lefebre keyed in on that with gusto. The Chowan should similarly produce plenty of shallow-water action, and both Lefebre and Rojas will be looking to finish the season strong and stay within the REDCREST qualification line.

Another veteran who fits this theme is Randy Howell, who’s fresh off a fourth-place showing on Eufaula. Howell also has a little experience on the Chowan, although it was during his teenage years while living in North Carolina.

Any one of these three anglers could do well this week, but they may fly under the radar and not get picked by many fantasy managers.

As close as possible to being locals

Will Virginia-based angler Martin Villa’s familiarity with East Coast tidal fisheries help him this week at the Chowan River?

Because the Chowan is so unknown, anglers from the region may have a leg up on others. There is no direct comparison to other rivers in the area, but having some experience fishing around there can’t hurt. That’s why David Dudley, Grae Buck and Martin Villa could be great picks.

Dudley was one of our go-to sources for preview stories for this event and has owned a home near the Chowan for two decades. Dudley knows plenty about the river and how it will fish, and that edge should help him this week.

Villa and Buck both have strong track records on the James and Potomac. While both rivers are a few hours north, having experience fishing a river system in the same region can’t hurt. Both are worth a look if you want a sneaky addition to your roster.

Italy’s Jacopo Gallelli is nowhere near a local angler but has found great success in the region. Stage Five could be his chance to turn around his tough rookie season. Gallelli took home a Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit win on the Potomac River in 2021 and a Phoenix Bass Fishing League win on the James River last June. Why couldn’t he add a trophy from the Chowan River this week?

Entries are open until Tuesday morning, be sure to get your picks in!