Conditions for 52nd Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk are looking to deliver a wide-open Lake Hartwell. We will not have a deep freeze like when Casey Ashley hoisted the trophy, and it will not be nearly as warm as when Jordan Lee took home his second crown. Its looking to be right in the middle. I really believe there will be anglers in the Super 6 that will be fishing super shallow, super deep and everywhere in between.
As far whether it will be spots or largemouth. I think there is a good chance it will be a mixed bag, but it’s unlikely anyone will win it 100% on spots without a stud largemouth mixed in at least one day. It will be interesting to see whether anglers will look to box a solid limit of spots and then look to get a few key culls, or if the most successful anglers will fish for just a handful of the right bites all day long.
Regardless, I think we are going to see a plethora of fish catches and good quality bags weighed in by the majority of the field every day. If you tune into Bassmaster LIVE on Bassmaster.com or on FS1, I don’t think you will be bored.
Quick PSA: If your fantasy team is off to a good start, it would be a wise decision to sign up for Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing text alerts on the Fantasy Fishing homepage. You would hate to throw away your hot start by not getting a roster in on time.
Table of Contents
BUCKET A: POWROZNIK
I was super torn on this pick, but I finally landed on Jacob Powroznik to anchor my Rapala Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing roster this event. In the two previous Hartwell Classics, J-Pow has a pair of fifth-place finishes as well as many other solid finishes on Hartwell. Overall, it lines up well with his strength. He knows the water well and what a way to put a cherry on top of his Bassmaster come back season.
I may regret this
My initial gut was to take Jason Christie in Bucket A. It definitely feels like he will win a Bassmaster Classic in his career, and this one definitely seems to line up with his strengths. So, if you don’t want to live with regret like I most likely will, put Christie on your roster and sleep well during Bassmaster Classic weekend.
BUCKET B: COX
Hartwell may not seem like a fit for John Cox on paper, but he does have a tour level win on Hartwell. It does seem like he is on a major heater right now too with two Top 10s to kick off the 2022 Bassmaster Elite Season. Even though he is second in Bassmaster Angler of the Year right now, he has earned his owners more Fantasy Fishing points than any other angler due to his propensity to catch big bass. Cox has single-handedly kept my Fantasy Fishing season afloat, so there’s no reason to change things up at this point.
Safety in suspenders
Picking a Canadian for a southern Bassmaster Classic may be seem like an odd decision, but with Hartwell’s herring population, there are always quality fish following and relating to offshore suspending bait schools. Jeff Gustafson is one of the best at moping and caching these pelagic fish. Plus, if the weather is a little colder than predicted, Gussy’s blood is plenty thick enough to handle it.
BUCKET C: CREWS
Only one time in John Crews’ career has he been in contention on the final day of the Bassmaster Classic, and that was at the recent Guntersville Classic. Crews has been kind of middle of the road in his previous three Hartwell Classics, but something just tells me that this one will be different. It feels like Crews has both his mind and body right for this year.
If you want to swing for the fences
If you want to treat your Bassmaster Classic Fantasy roster like many of the pros actually treat the tournament, Steve Kennedy might be for you. If you want to apply a first or last mentality, then you might want to go all-in on Kennedy. When Kennedy is on, he is a Fantasy Fishing hero, but when he is not, he often leaves your team high and dry.
BUCKET D: PALMER
I really wanted to pick Christie in Bucket A, and since that didn’t work out, I am going to take Christie 2.0 in Bucket D going by the name of Luke Palmer. Palmer is one of the most consistent young anglers on the Bassmaster Elite Series and is cut from a similar Okie mold as Christie. I expect Palmer to find quality bass to fit his fishing strengths at Hartwell.
If the Classic gets cranky?
David Mullins had a solid 2021 but a stellar 2020. His 2022 start is starting to feel very much like he is on a pace like 2020 where he will be in contention for AOY at the end of this season. Couple that with how Lake Hartwell is setting up and water in the low to mid 50s, there could a very solid crankbait bite for Mullins to tap into during Bassmaster Classic week.
BUCKET E: HAMNER
I cannot say that I have great statistical analytics to support my pick for Justin Hamner. He definitely has experience on Hartwell, but overall, I just feel that Hamner is a quality angler on the rise. He seems equally comfortable fishing for both spots and largemouth.
Marc Frazier did fairly well in a fall Bassmaster Open on Hartwell, but the more interesting fact is his brother Micah Frazier has been very successful on Hartwell. I’m not suggesting any kind of information sharing leading up to event. But chances are they have fished together there over the years and Marc is very familiar with Hartwell, and his style will fit.
Mercury Bassmaster Drain the Lake Challenge
This week’s Drain the Lake is a little more interesting. With a smaller field and added anglers only fishing the Bassmaster Classic, it allows you to grab some anglers that are only eligible for this event and won’t impact your available picks for the remaining regular season events. That being said, here are my Drain the Lake picks for Hartwell.
- Hank Cherry
- Jason Christie
- KJ Queen
- Shane LeHew
- Nick LeBrun
- Jacob Powroznik
- Luke Palmer
- Brandon Cobb