GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. – The 2023 Bass Pro Tour season is really rolling now – after Toro Stage Four Presented by Bass Cat on Lake Guntersville, the year will be more than halfway done. At this point in the seven-tournament season, we can spot some trends about who’s fishing well and who’s struggling. These trends are significant when picking your fantasy roster for Phoenix Fantasy Fishing Presented by Abu Garcia for the remainder of the season.
Another major factor I’m considering is the abundance of Guntersville locals fishing their home waters: I’ll be picking several of them.
Here’s a look at some of the anglers on my roster for Stage Four, which may be a surprise as they differ slightly from my standard picks.
This one isn’t a stretch considering both Matt and Jordan Lee know the lake as well as anyone in the field. Both caught the tournament bug while fishing the lake as kids, and although Smith Lake is more of a “home lake,” Guntersville isn’t too far down the road.
Picking one or both will be a solid choice, but Matt has a better opportunity to help your squad if he does well. The bulk of fantasy managers will likely choose Jordan and he should have a great tournament here, but Matt probably won’t be on as many rosters. At 70th in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year race, he’s a good option for your required pick below 40th place in Group B. It may be boom-or-bust to pick Matt, but I think he’ll do well next week.
It seems like half the field lives around Lake Guntersville and anglers like the Lees, Chris Lane, Justin Lucas, Randy Howell will undoubtedly be good picks here. But I’m also going with two of the new guys who live in the area this week – Josh Butler and Jacob Wall.
These two Alabamians are rookies on the Bass Pro Tour this year and are both having pretty solid seasons. Wall has dropped a little recently in the AOY race, but is still sitting in 51st; Butler is quietly doing very well this year and sits in the 22nd slot, right above Bryan Thrift, Jeremy Lawyer and Jacob Wheeler. Both have tons of experience on Guntersville, with Butler having several Phoenix Bass Fishing League Top 10s and a 2020 win on the lake.
Wall relocated from Oregon to New Hope, Alabama, which is very close to Lake Guntersville. He’s fished it a lot and has had success, including a sixth-place showing on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit stop last May.
It’s been a challenging season for Mark Daniels Jr. and he’ll be the first to admit it. He even put out a video explaining his struggles to catch ’em this season. Daniels has proven to be too good and consistent for his struggles to continue, and Guntersville is the chance for him to break out of his slump.
While Daniels lives in Alabama, Guntersville is more than three hours away from his home in Tuskeegee, so he has a limited track record on the famed fishery. Daniels has a Top 10 in Toyota Series competition here back in 2015. The lake has changed a bunch since then, but Stage Four is as good a time as any for MDJ to get back to fishing to his standards and have a great showing.