2012 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #1 Harris Chain of Lakes - Tavares, FL, Jan 19 - 21, 2012

Fishing Florida

About the author

Brandon Card

Brandon Card

Tennessee’s Brandon Card, who competed for the University of Kentucky, is the first Bassmaster College Series angler to qualify for the Elite Series.

Florida fishing is way different than anywhere else in the country. I haven’t fished in Florida much, but last year’s Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open on Kissimmee Chain taught me a bunch. Florida bass behave differently for some reason. The weather, water depth, and habitat all play big roles in how the fish behave down there.

I am here in the Sunshine State for the Bassmaster Southern Open, and I brought some valuable lessons that I learned last year with me. Location and boat control and positioning are the two most important lessons.

Location, Location

I am a run and gun fisherman: I love to have a pattern going and just run all over the lake catching fish off certain stuff. Examples of the patterns that I’m talking about are: flipping the first few bushes of every pocket or swimming a jig on docks that are positioned close to points. Florida is not the place you can run all over the lake and catch fish! Believe me – I wasted a bunch of time in practice doing that last year.

I learned that specific areas hold fish, while other areas that look just the same don’t. It’s weird, I know, but that is just how it is down there. My primary areas last year were areas where I only had a few bites in practice. If I caught a fish or two in practice on a spot, I marked them on my GPS and came back to them in tournament time and slowed way down and caught many more.

Boat Control and Positioning

I learned the hard way last year. On Day Two of the tournament, I spooked a bunch of big females off of their beds that could have pushed my 30-pound bag over 40 pounds. And on Day Three, I couldn’t even stay in and fish my area because of the 30-mph winds. Power Poles and push poles are two things that you have to have when down in Florida.

Last year on Day Two, I had two small areas loaded with giants. I caught a 10, 8.5, and 7.5, but sadly spooked off several more in the 10-pound class with my trolling motor. I was fishing in shallow eel grass, and my trolling motor was making a lot of noise as it cut through the grass; at that time, I didn’t even own a push pole. I know I could have caught a few of those big ones that I spooked if I would have had a push pole. A push pole allows you to move through shallow water without making a noise, which is critical when fishing for those big girls because they are smart and sensitive to sound.

Day Three was a nightmare, because the wind blew at 30 mph and I literally could not even keep my boat in the areas that I had been fishing. I put my trolling motor on high speed and threw an anchor out, and neither worked. I just got blown around like a leaf. There is nowhere to get out of the wind in Florida because it is so flat everywhere. From that experience, I learned that a shallow water anchoring system is the only way to be able to fish effectively down there. Two Power Poles (one on each side of outboard motor) will stabilize a boat in the roughest winds and waves. If I would have had them last year, I could have had a much higher finish.

Florida is an awesome place to fish, if you know what you are doing. I love it because giants live down there. I will be down for 2 1/2 weeks, as I’m fishing the Bassmaster Open on the Harris Chain, and then pre-practicing for the St. Johns and Okeechobee Elites. The 2012 tournament season is officially under way, and many giants await me!

Remember to chase your dreams!