We’re in the season’s home stretch and headed north to New York’s Cayuga Lake for Favorite Fishing Stage Five Presented by ATG + Wrangler. The fishing is expected to be phenomenal and we should see some monster bags of bass placed on SCORETRACKER®. It’ll be hard for the anglers to separate themselves in these slugfest-type events, making it just as tricky for fantasy managers.
The entire field will probably catch ’em, but finding the anglers who can catch bigger fish will take more research, as well as looking at some other factors. I’m banking on the hot hands, the sight fishermen, the finesse guys and a pair of wild cards.
It would be silly not to pick Jacob Wheeler for this one; he’s fresh off a win and when he wins, he typically does it in bunches. I expect him to be in contention at Cayuga on the final day. The same is true of Dakota Ebare – again, not a very bold pick, but he scored a Championship Round appearance here last season. And who could forget that 7-pound, 10-ounce smallmouth he caught in the Championship Round?
Most will have these two givens on their teams, but the picks below are sneakier.
It’s not a certainty with the warmer weather in the region recently, but plenty of spawning fish should still be available in this event. Because of this, I’m going with a pair of sight-fishing gurus here.
All of the Bass Pro Tour anglers are proficient with the sight bite, or they wouldn’t have made it to this level, but some are consistently better than others. Two of the best in the business are Alton Jones and Dean Rojas.
These two veterans have won plenty of money by catching bedding bass and both would be good picks here that may get overlooked by some fantasy managers. Both were in the Top 15 for the 2016 Bassmaster Elite Series event on Cayuga, with Rojas in seventh and Jones in 15th. The event dates for that one were also in June, although a few weeks later, but the anglers should have some of the same lake conditions.
Justin Lucas and Josh Bertrand will excel and are my finesse picks. Both are killers with a drop-shot, which should be one of the best ways to catch them on Cayuga. Lucas is fishing great now and had a Top 10 here last year, while Bertrand notched a Top 20. Bertrand is having an uncharacteristically tough year, but the northern swing is right in his wheelhouse and the perfect time to right the ship.
Plenty of New Yorkers make the trek to Florida each year for vacation, but what about the reverse? I’m picking two Florida anglers for this event in the Empire State, which may seem like a surprise, but Terry Scroggins and Randall Tharp did well last year on Cayuga Lake. These two Florida pros know the lake and type of fishing, so the picks aren’t as wild as you might think.
While the fishing may seem worlds apart, it’s a lot closer than it appears. The lakes in Florida are generally clear and full of grass, just like Cayuga. Last season, Scroggins finished fifth here by fishing a ChatterBait and Tharp also did well, banking a solid check with a Knockout Round appearance and a 32nd-place finish. Back in their Bassmaster days, Tharp also had a 33rd-place finish in that 2016 Elite Series stop, so both know their way around the fishery.