We thought it would be fun to have ANGLR Expert, Shaye Baker, take a stab at guessing the 20 winning baits of 20 major events in 2020.
Do you agree or disagree with his predictions?
Let us know in a comment below or on social media!
#1. Bassmaster Elite Series at St. Johns River | February 6th-9th
A pretty nasty cold front is forecasted to come through Palatka just prior to the event with a couple of nights dipping down into the 30’s. Florida bass don’t like that. I don’t believe we’ll see a crazy push shallow like we did last year in the Elite event there.
It is that time of the year where anything can happen though. But likely this will be more of a ‘traps on shell bars’ tournament with a little punching mixed in.
So I’ll take a lipless crankbait to be the winning bait.
#2. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Eufaula | February 7th-12th
This one has the potential to be a shallow water whack-fest if the weather will allow it. I’m afraid however that the weather won’t. A cold front prior and a cold front mid-event will likely slow the fishing down. But with this event stretching all the way to the 12th, there may be just enough time for the water to warm and the fish to move late in the event.
I expect fish to be caught relatively shallow all week, but the leaders early will likely be just offshore on the first drop catching fish on jerkbaits, jigs, lipless crankbaits and medium diving crankbaits. Late in the event we may see a wave flood into a shallow area and the first angler to find them will blow it out if he’s alone.
So for the winning bait in the Championship Round, I like a swim jig.
#3. Bassmaster Elite Series at Lake Chickamauga | February 14th-17th
As popular as Lake Chickamauga is, I’ve never had the chance to fish there. It’s an awesome fishery I know, but I have to drive past about 20 awesome fisheries to get there. One of those fisheries is Lake Guntersville and the most similar lake I have any experience on to pull from.
My wild guess isn’t exactly a long shot when it comes to what will win at Chick— a trap.
With a close runner-up being a chatterbait. The fish should be early pre-spawn there then. Working their way into the creeks and staging near spawning flats on the main river.
#4. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Okeechobee | February 21st-26th
Of all the lakes on this list, Okeechobee is my favorite. The lake received national attention in the last couple of years as it was in a slump. But judging by the pics on social media and the tournament weights being reported, that slump is in the rearview mirror.
Guessing what the fish will be doing tomorrow in Florida during the winter is nearly impossible, much less a month out. Depending on the weather, I’d say a normal event there would be won either sight fishing or punching. But with the BPT format, this will likely be a reelers tournament. Speed Worms, Skinny Dippers, chatterbaits, and traps will likely dominate.
If the temps are cool, the trap will likely win. If the fish are up trying to spawn, reeling a speed worm will be tough to beat.
It will be interesting to see if an angler gets on an area where 6 to 8-pounders are bedding and he just catches them over and over. Remember, with MLF rules the fish are immediately weighed and released. And as far as I know, there are still no rules against catching the same fish multiple times. That could play a huge role in this thing.
#5. FLW College Fishing National Championship at the Harris Chain | February 26th-28th
The Harris Chain is a tough cookie for me to predict. As much as I love Florida fishing, Harris and the accompanying lakes in its chain have had my number in the past. That time of year, I like to think that the fish will be spawning. But whether or not the wave of spawners will be enough to win totally depends on the weather leading up to the event.
Wintertime fishing in Florida is extremely susceptible to cold fronts and the likelihood of a 3-day event evading a cold snap is small.
So I’ll take a lipless crankbait on a little staging hole to win this one.
The fish will be coming and going from the bed and someone that finds a little hidey-hole where the fish can group up will likely get it done.
#6. Bassmaster Classic at Lake Guntersville | March 6th-9th
Lake Guntersville in March… a lot of stuff will be in play here but one thing is for certain, this one will take some serious weight. My best guess, a chatterbait. Everyone knows a rattletrap is the deal on Guntersville, but a chatterbait works really well too.
I’m going to go slightly out on a limb here and say we have a warming trend prior to the event and someone wins on a vibrating jig shallow in the back of a creek.
#7. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Fork | March 13th-18th
I don’t know much about Fork. I fished there once in college on the way to somewhere else. Didn’t catch much that day but it’s no secret the lake is loaded with giants.
I like the idea of a big swimbait winning this.
Someone wrecking them on a Magdraft or something like that. I would assume the fish will be all over the bed then. So sight fishing may take precedence. But even then, I think a big swimbait will play a large role in the winner’s game plan.
#8. Bassmaster Elite Series at Lake Eufaula | April 2nd-5th
Back to Lake Eufaula. In early April, I believe most of the spawning will be over and done. The ticket should be the shad spawn. It all depends on the weather in the spring, but if the bass are on the tail end of the spawn, look for someone to stumble into a shad spawn and make things interesting in a hurry each morning.
As far as the bait, I’ll say a swim jig comes in slightly in front of a spinnerbait.
#9. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, & Shearon Harris | April 3rd-8th
Senko. Senko. Senko. And Jacob Powroznik is going to win. After what I saw from him last year there just a week or two earlier, someone is going to have to show me something different before I think otherwise. I know a vibrating jig played a role there too. And a frog, which may be even better since they’ll be there a little later.
But that performance last year by Powroznik was impressive and I expect we’ll see something similar with a senko this year.
#10. Bassmaster Elite Series at Santee Cooper | April 16th-19th
I love Santee Cooper. I’ve only had the chance to fish there a few times, but that place is special. Big fish, and some of the meanest ones you’ll ever tie into. I’ve caught some really good fish there that time of year on a frog, two 7-pounders in about 15 minutes once.
But the thing I never could figure out which seems to always dominate there will probably win this one too— a wacky rig around cypress trees.
Every year when I’d fish an EverStart (now TackleWarehouse) Series event there, some local angler would blow it out with a fairy wand and a little worm. It was quite frustrating. The main problem, there are thousands of cypress trees there and the fish gravitate to a select few. Partly because the locals there put brush and Christmas trees around them. I think someone with a good bit of local knowledge will win this way.
#11. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Kissimmee Chain | May 15th-20th
I’ve fished the Kissimmee Chain several times, but always in the late winter. I’m not sure what to expect that time of year but if you just made me choose, I would pick flipping. Not necessarily punching, though some of that will be mixed in, but just pitching and flipping to various shallow vegetation.
The other likely thing to play big is the brush bite there. Brushpiles are a bit of a controversial topic in that area but they always seem to play unless the fish are on the beds. And it stands to reason the fish will be well off the beds by then and hanging offshore.
So I’d say either covering a lot of water flipping or working a milk run offshore in the brush. With a slight edge to the brush since we’re talking about needing to catch as many fish as possible with the MLF format.
So, a jig covers both ends of the spectrum and gives me an easy out.
#12. Bassmaster Elite Series at Sabine River | May 29th-June 1st
Yikes. Always a great area to visit but a tough derby. Flipping something like a tube or a finesse flipping jigs feels right to me here for some reason. Though I think there’s a good chance it will be won fishing with several different baits. This sets up to be a junk fisherman’s dream tournament or one of those that’s won in a small area a long way from the ramp like we saw Todd Faircloth do a few years ago.
But I have to pick a bait right? So I’ll say flipping a tube.
#13. Bassmaster Toyota Texas Fest | June 5th-9th
Back to Lake Fork, but a month later than in 2019. I still like the idea of a big swimbait playing here. Maybe a glide bait in the hands of Palaniuk or Jocumsen. I know it’ll be hot and the fish should be deep. But these are big fish we’re talking about. And big fish don’t always do what they “should”.
These massive predators have a lot of competition in the water and I like the idea of one of those guys cracking the code and bringing 5 giants to the boat each day on a big glide bait.
#14. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Winnebago, Lake Butte des Morts, Green Lake | June 5th-10th
Alright, once we move north of the Mason-Dixon we get well outside my comfort zone. I’ve never fished Lake Winnebago, Lake Butte des Morts or Green Lake. But from what we saw from the first two lakes last year, shallow largemouth prevailed. Then Cliff Pace wrecked the smallmouth off-shore to win the event in a completely different fashion.
If MLF proceeds through those three lakes in the same rotation this year, I can only assume from the limited knowledge I have that the Championship Round on Green Lake will again be won on smallmouth.
So I’ll pick a dropshot for the winning bait, even though Pace won last year on a jerkbait primarily.
And if MLF shakes it up and moves the final round to one of the other two lakes, I’d have to go with a Senko style bait. Lots of vegetation for frogging and flipping, but it seemed the guys getting more bites were the ones slowing down with a soft plastic stick bait.
#15. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at St. Lawrence River | June 26th-July 1st
Will it be won on a tube or will it be won on a dropshot? I’m fairly incompetent with both, but there will be several anglers up there who are deadly with that duo. I’d say the winner will mix those two baits in.
But likely the dropshot will do the majority of the work for the winner.
#16. Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour at Lake Champlain | July 21st-26th
I like this one. It’s going to be very interesting to see how all the smallmouth you can catch stack up against all the largemouth you can catch.
I want to say someone will win down in Ticonderoga on a frog, but I’m afraid that’s just a southern boy’s wish and a dropshot on the smallies will be the winning deal.
#17. Bassmaster Elite Series at St. Lawrence River | July 23rd-26th
I don’t think much will change as far as the bait goes when we start splitting hairs between the MLF format and B.A.S.S. format.
Five fish or 500, a dropshot and a tube will carry the load here again. I think that’s a pretty safe assumption anyway.
#18. Bassmaster Elite Series at Lake Champlain | July 30th-August 2nd
The same goes for Champlain. Even though a month separates the MLF event and the B.A.S.S. event, I think we’ll still see the top of the leaderboard divided between the anglers that sell out on the smallmouth and the anglers that throw in with the largemouth.
For some reason I think the largemouth might have a slightly better chance since the mats will have had a little longer to top out and thicken up, but that’s just a blind guess like the rest of this.
So, let’s go out on a limb and say frogging in Ticonderoga will get the win.
#19. FLW Championship at St. Lawrence River | August 8th-13th
Dropshot. Dropshot. Dropshot. Most likely won on a dropshot. But maybe we’ll see something different win. Who knows. Likely though, with FLW taking on the MLF format for their Championship event, we’ll see anglers pick apart schools of smaller fish that they would usually pass up.
The 2-pounders that are irrelevant in a five-fish derby are now super important in the every fish counts format (as long as MLF doesn’t set their now fluid minimum weight criteria above 2-pounds for that event). Either way, a dropshot is just hard to beat on the St. Lawrence. Though a tube, jerkbait and maybe even a spybait or finesse swimmer could make a push for the winning bait.
Still, dropsot. Final answer.
#20. Bassmaster Elite Series at Lake St. Claire | August 20th-23rd
A dropshot again. It’s funny, if you were just a good dropshot and chatterbait angler, I feel like you’d have your fair shot at 3/4ths of the major events each season.
A dropshot is just historically so prevalent on lake St. Claire that it’s hard to pick against it.
So there you have it. Shaye Baker’s 20 predictions for winning baits of the 2020 season! What do you agree or disagree with? Let us know in the comments below!
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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