Jan. 31 - Feb. 2 Lake Toho - B.A.S.S. Southern Open #1
Kurt Dove will provide tournament blogs for BoatUS ANGLER this year. The B.A.S.S. Southern Open on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, FL Jan. 31- Feb. 2 was his first event of the year. We hope you enjoy following along in his 2013 tournament season!
Jan. 31 - Feb. 2, 2013 - Lake Toho - B.A.S.S. Southern Open #1
Driving from Del Rio, Texas to anywhere is a haul and it is refreshing to know that BoatUS Angler is always with me. It gives me a piece of mind traveling as much as I do throughout the country. The first event of the season is always a special one. It's the first, it's the excitement of a new year but for me it was a new mind-set - 'do your own thing'. I went into this tournament with a few goals in mind. The most important was to stay away from the Kissimmee grass and focus more on the patterns that "win". In the spring time in Florida those tend to be lipless crankbaits off-shore, sight fishing, working the lily pads or punching mats.
Practice day 1 I hit Toho and went right to cranking an ima Rock-N-Vibe off shore. After fishing several hours I had 1 solid 4lb fish to show. A nice one for sure but we needed more bites. I tried to slow down later in the day and fish Carolina-Rig on some of the same off-shore areas hoping a slower presentation would entice some of those lazy Florida bass. Didn't happen - it only produced some smaller fish.
A first tough practice day ended with some upside as I caught a few decent fish Texas rigging some lily pads near spawning areas. I decided to spend my 2nd day of practice down in Lake Kissimmee. I worked the lily pads strong on the north end and caught a few average fish and saw some smaller bucks on the bed. It gave me some confidence as felt I was starting to put a pattern together. Day 3 of Practice I went back down to Kissimmee and continued to try and produce some of the same results, but my practice started to get worse rather than better. It seemed as though I just couldn't get the right combination of bites in areas. I would catch a fish here or there but not anything where I really felt as there was an area that held good concentrations of bass.
I am not sure why the reaction bite was so non-existent but it was! The morning of the 4th day of practice I began punching some matted vegetation and got a few bites and one nice 3.5 lber. I thought this area had some potential as my BK Fishing Team member Paul Pagnato also had some good bites there as well. I thought that maybe this location was going to be somewhere I could buckle down in the tourney and grind 'em out. I continued to flip flop back and forth from punching to pads with varying success and at the end of the day I was unable to find confidence in other locations of Lake Kissimmee.
It's a long drive from Toho to Kissimmee so the final practice day, a short day due to registration for the tournament, I opted to give Lake Toho another try. Working lipless crankbaits in the morning and trying to develop a plastic worm bite around spawning grounds and hours later it seemed as though I was spinning my wheels. As I looked at the weather forecast that afternoon I decided I would spend my tourney down in Lake Kissimmee. About 2pm I retied on the boat and got ready for punching matted vegetation and some Tx rigging lily pads.
Event Day 1: 3 Bass / 8lbs - 77th place of 198.
Out of the launch area in boat position 110 and having nearly the entire field wanting to lock from Toho to Kissimmee made for some long run times. I ended up having about 6 ½ hours to fish each day. The wind was blowing wildly the first morning and it had my confidence area trashed. The water was dirty and being stealthy while moving around was nearly impossible.
I decided with the conditions that my best option was to continue fishing matted vegetation but to find new areas that would be suitable with the wind direction. I remembered an area not far away that looked promising on my practice days and with a lot of matted vegetation so I ran over there and hunkered down and went to work. I had 5 bites in the 5 or so hours I fished that area. Lost one keeper on top of a mat while horsing it out of the slop and broke one off, but I would bet it was a pickerel.
Event Day 2: 2 Bass / 5lbs 8oz
I was boat number 89 to launch so I would have about 15 min more fishing time in Lake Kissimmee compared to Day 1. Not much of a difference but every minute counts in tournament bass fishing.
I had high expectations as the wind had shifted and was forecast to slow down in the afternoon. I pulled up to what I figured was the best little area of mats from Day 1 and in the first 10 minutes I lost a small keeper and boated a 4 lber. Right at that moment I had the confidence it was going to be my day. The weights were so tight in the standing after Day 1 I figured a mediocre 12-14lbs would put me right back into the game and if I were to manage a Florida big bite then a 20 lb bag was not so farfetched. Over the next 4 hours I moved through my areas and then made a small run down lake and then one more move to the mid lake area. I never had another bite! It was brutal.
With about 1 hour to go before I had to make the move back to the ramp for check-in I decided to pick up a frog and cover some water after my co-angler had boated 2 keepers fan casting behind me while I flipped mats through the day. I boated 1 more keeper about 15 minutes before I needed to head back to Toho for check-in.
Event Total - 5 Bass / 13lbs 8oz / 98th place of 198.
This middle of the pack finish was pretty sour. I didn't really find anything in practice period so my strategy was fishing and grinding through what I thought could be a winning pattern. Turns out many of the top finishers fished matted vegetation in Lake Kissimmee, but I wasn't one of them.
Next blog - Bassmaster Elite Series Event, Sabine River Mar. 14-17
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