Editor’s note – Fantasyfishing.Com insider Tyler Brinks currently holds the top position in Phoenix Fantasy Fishing for the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals with 1,258 pounds, 1 ounce. Brinks’ regular fantasy beat is the Bass Pro Tour, but we’ve pulled him over to the Invitationals for a guest blog about how he’s earned the No. 1 spot.
This is my first time writing a preview for Phoenix Fantasy Fishing for the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, but the editors at Major League Fishing asked me to give some tips based on my success so far this year.
I started with a solid finish on Lake Okeechobee for the first event and then took over the No. 1 spot in the world after Clarks Hill. After another great group of fantasy picks at Eufaula, I’m still there halfway through the season.
My primary strategy this year has been to ride with some of the biggest, most consistently productive names on the roster and make some selections based on the “cherry pickers,” be they solid locals or Bass Pro Tour anglers jumping in for just an event. It’s worked well for me so far this year, and I’ll keep with that theme until it doesn’t work anymore.
Here’s how I’m planning my roster for Lake of the Ozarks.
The first thing I do when I receive the email that says it’s time to pick a roster is log in and scroll straight to the end of the standings to see who’s fishing just this event. If an anglers hasn’t fished an Invitationals event yet this season (thereby earning zero points), the FantasyFishing.com system places at the bottom of the rankings.
Trust me, you can find some real gems at the bottom of the numerical rankings if you do a little research. See which local hammers are jackpotting the event, or find a likely BPT angler jumping in for one event and you can score big.
At Okeechobee, Brett Hite and David Walker helped my cause; at Eufaula, it was Shonn Goodwin. Some deals can be found if you look hard enough and get a little fortunate with your picks. For Stop 4, Jeremy Lawyer stands out – he’s an Ozarks killer who’s fishing just this single Invitational. He’s on my roster and shouldn’t disappoint on a lake that he’s very familiar with.
I’m not going out on a limb here, but Dakota Ebare and Michael Neal are must-picks everywhere they go. Even if they don’t live up to their high standards, they’ll still do decent for your points. My theory is that they’ll be picked by just about everyone and if for some reason they struggle, it shouldn’t hurt your rankings too much.
Looking at the points standings, Ron Nelson and Matt Stefan are first and second in the AOY race, and either one (or both) would be a smart pick for LOZ. The lake also sets up well for both of them, as there will likely be plenty of fish shallow and around the many docks on the lake.
To see who catches them on a body of water, look at the past several years of Phoenix Bass Fishing League and Toyota Series results. Lake of the Ozarks is a popular stop for both, and a few names keep popping up in the Top 10 as you research those.
One stands out to me this time – Michael Harlin, the reigning Plains Division Angler of the Year, who also happens to be a Tackle Warehouse Invitationals rookie. I’ve picked him a few times this year already and he’s fishing great, sitting in fifth. He should be one to watch again in this event on his home lake, where he’s won both a BFL and Toyota Series in the past three years.