We are one week away from the 3rd stop of the Bassmaster Elite Series on Harris Chain of Lakes in the beautiful state of Florida. When the pros visit Florida, it’s usually in February for the first two events of the year. During that that time of year, the fish are often either spawning or feeding up for the spawn since Florida is so much warmer than the rest of the country. In April however, most of the fish will be done spawning. Offshore grass and shell beds will hold schools of giant bass, and anglers might also be able to capitalize on a shad spawn early in the morning. Just as we have done for the first two Elite Series events and the Bassmaster Classic, we will suggest two anglers per bucket so that you can have the option between which one you would rather pick! These picks will be based on the anglers’ tournament history in Florida, momentum, strengths, and more!

Note: Since Harris Chain and St. Johns River are back-to-back events, we went ahead and published our picks for St. Johns River as well.

Let’s dive into it!

Bucket A: Stetson Blaylock or Jordan Lee

(Photos Courtesy of Bassmaster)

These two anglers have both had great starts to the 2024 season with top 15 finishes in the first two events in Texas. While the last time the Elites visited Harris Chain was in February, Stetson Blaylock did finish in a respectable 17th place in that event. He has also had top 10s in Elite Series events at St. Johns River and FLW Tour events at Lake Toho and Lake Okeechobee. Blaylock is a versatile angler who usually stays consistent throughout the season. He could be the angler who does a great job mixing the shallow bite with the offshore bite to get the win. When it comes to Jordan Lee, his offshore grass strengths that come from fishing Lake Guntersville could really suit him well at Harris Chain. Like Blaylock, he has also had some past success in Florida with an Elite Series top 10 at St. Johns River and three MLF BPT top 10s at Kissimmee Chain with two of those being wins. Lee is also a versatile angler that could showcase his strengths at Harris Chain.

Bucket B: Drew Benton and Brandon Palaniuk

(Photos Courtesy of Bassmaster)

While these two anglers are the highest-percentage picks for this bucket, they both could be great picks for this tournament. Drew Benton lives in Florida and has had much success in his home state over the years. He finished in 2nd place the last time the Elites visited Harris Chain in 2022. He has also had a 4th place finish in an Elite Series event on the St. Johns River and an FLW Tour win on Lake Okeechobee. While he is known for his sight fishing strengths, the Florida local knows that most of the fish will be post-spawn this time around. When it comes to Brandon Palaniuk, he has not had any top 10s in Florida but has stayed very consistent with top 20 and top 30 finishes the last 5 times the Elite Series has visited there. Since this is a different time of year though, his versatile strengths could suit him well as he could have his first Florida Elite Series top 10. Because both Benton and Palaniuk are high-percentage picks in their bucket, a dark horse for this bucket could be Brandon Card as this tournament could set up well for his post-spawn strengths. Card is a great offshore angler and is also successful with a topwater bait. His last three finishes in Florida are 7th, 25th, and 19th. He is also fresh off a 14th place finish in the Bassmaster Classic. Don’t be surprised to see him do well in this event!

Bucket C: Brandon Lester and Bryan Schmitt

(Photos Courtesy of Bassmaster)

These two anglers have both had great success in Florida and they look for this time around to be no different. Brandon Lester finished in 5th place at Harris Chain in 2022 shortly after he won a Bassmaster Open on Kissimmee Chain. He has a total of 5 finishes in the top 5 in Bassmaster Opens and Elite events, along with many other top 20 and top 30 finishes. Lester is a versatile angler as he has won tournaments beating the bank and fishing offshore. While he did not have a great season in 2023 and had a rough start at the first two events in 2024, expect Lester to turn the train around at this next event. Like Lester, Bryan Schmitt has also had great success in Florida on the Bassmaster Elite Series and with Major League Fishing. He has two top 10 Elite Series finishes in Florida including a 6th place finish at Harris Chain in 2022, he has a 2nd place finish at a Bassmaster Open on Harris Chain in 2019, and he has finishes of 1st, 2nd, and 4th place in Florida with MLF. His resume is hard to beat when it comes to Florida which is why he could do well at these next two events.

Bucket D: Scott Martin and Buddy Gross

(Photos Courtesy of Bassmaster)

While John Cox is the favorite in this bucket, there are other anglers in this bucket that could really excel with their strengths this time around on Harris Chain. Two of these anglers are Scott Martin and Buddy Gross. Martin is a versatile angler which means he can capitalize on both the shad spawn and the offshore grass/shell bed bite. He has also had much success on the pro level in his home state of Florida, including his Bassmaster Opens win on Lake Okeechobee earlier this year. Buddy Gross won on Harris Chain in 2022 and has 3 other top 10 finishes in Florida when he was with FLW. He is also a great offshore angler whether it be grass or shell beds. While he didn’t perform well in 2023, he could very well turn the train around at this next event.

Bucket E: Joey Cifuentes or Will Davis

(Photos Courtesy of Bassmaster)

These two anglers both had stellar seasons for their rookie debut in 2023 with three cumulative wins. When it comes to fishing in Florida, they don’t have a lot of history to refer to. Joey Cifuentes did have a 19th place finish at Okeechobee last year however, along with a 2nd place finish in a Bassmaster Open at Kissimmee Chain in 2022. Cifuentes is another angler that has been having a rough start in 2024 but looks to turn it around as the pattern at Harris Chain could suit his strengths. Davis finished in 14th place at Okeechobee in 2023 but doesn’t have much prior history in Florida outside of that. However, his stellar rookie season last year should carry over into this year. While he prefers power fishing, Davis will be willing to use finesse approaches such as a shaky head that played a role in his 2023 Elite Series win at Lay Lake.