Fantasy Fishing: Don’t only bank on Texas anglers


With a slight adjustment, Aaron Martens had three quick bites and is now in cull mode. But he says these fish are counter adjusting too.
Bassmaster Marshal Matt Ellis

The area around Austin, Texas, is known for a lot of things. Great music, outstanding food, weird people (they have their own slogan: Keep Austin Weird) and great bass fishing. However the next stop for the Elites, Lake Travis, is not a normal Texas fishery.

When you think of Texas bassin’, normally you think about stained, shallow water, maybe some grass … but this lake is one of a kind. The big fish live deep. Really deep. Like 30-50 feet deep – and it’s crystal clear – anything but typical Texas. It also is full of fish. The only thing about it is a vast majority of them are less than 2 pounds.

There are lots of big largemouth though, and it’s gonna take guys getting creative to find those great big bites to win this thing. Light line will be a key with the super clear water, and if I had to guess, most of the guys will key on the shad spawn early or find some schooling fish. Then they’ll have to make the decision to either back off or run up shallow to find those kickers bites. One to two 5-pounders a day will be the ticket.

In my Texan-opinion there will be a few guys who find them up shallow, but I don’t see that holding up for four days. With an overabundance of smaller keepers in the lake, expect to see a ton of anglers within a few ounces of each other after the first day. So if you’re doing well going into Day 2, don’t get too comfortable, because it’ll shake up big time after the second day.


As I scanned through the bucket, one name stood out among the rest for a tournament dominated by light line and deeper fish. Aaron Martens has had a solid start to the year, but for some reason, his name hasn’t been in the headlines. That is about to change. No one can read their electronics better and make those finicky bass react better than this guy. You can expect him to find his first Top 12 of the regular season this week.

Also consider: Dean Rojas

This lake is going to fish very similar to the Lake Havasu big bite. Dean Rojas has spent a fair amount of time out deep looking at those fish in an effort to diversify and refine his skills. I made a last minute switch to him at Kentucky Lake in hopes that he could find the frog bite and ride it home, but it burned me. It’s been a while since he has been in the spotlight. It’s about time for him to return. This could be his time.


I have spent way too much time watching the Jordan Lee train drive right past me. Well, not anymore. Mark Rose won an FLW event here in 2017 dragging a jig on boat ramp riprap. I seem to recall JLee winning his a pretty large event dragging a jig. This fits right in his wheelhouse. I’m looking forward to the huge points I’m about to get with this choice.

Also consider: Kevin VanDam

Crankbaits are definitely going to play this week, and there isn’t a better pick out there for that. Kevin VanDam posted his worst Kentucky Lake finish ever…by 51 places. He is mad at ‘em, and he’ll be ready to extract some revenge.


If you took pictures of rocks and docks on Hartwell and put it up next to a picture of rocks and docks on Travis, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Casey Ashley has a great record on Texas fisheries, doesn’t mind light lines and spinning rods, and he knows how to get those deeps ones interested using his electronics.

Also consider: Cliff Pirch

For Lake Havasu local Cliff Pirch, reading electronics for deep fish is as natural as breathing. Again, like Rojas he has spent lots of time looking at fish in deep, clear, rocky water. He’s also one of those anglers who are versatile and can find them shallow too.


I’ve actually been pretty intentional about avoiding Texas anglers because this lake has not really been a factor in most of the Elite anglers’ careers. However, Alton Jones frequents nearby Lake Belton which is not quite as deep, but is definitely a clear Texas lake. He also likes fishing deep jigs, and he’s very good at finding the bass in the moment and not getting locked into doing one thing. That will be key.

Also consider: Mike McClelland

I’ve had Mike McClelland on pretty well every one of my rosters this season, and it hasn’t done me much good. This event sets up good for him with the likelihood of a jig and crankbait bite. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him with a solid finish here. I just need to shake things up and go a different route in order to salvage my Fantasy Fishing season.


Every event, it seems like this bucket is tough for me. One thing that I haven’t paid enough attention to are the stats next to each angler. Of all the anglers in this bucket, Brandon Coulter has amassed 622 points for the Fantasy players that picked him. That is nearly twice what half of the rest of the bucket has earned. Either way, statistically speaking, he’s a good bet. Some places in Tennessee fish very similar to Lake Travis. I’m not sure he’ll be in contention for the win, but I’m hoping for a 20-30 place finish. 

Also Consider: Jason Williamson

Jason Williamson has built a career out of cashing checks on lakes like this. He is not afraid of the fairy wand and light line, but also is proficient with a jig. There is a good chance he will be the one to break through and post a top 20 finish.