2014 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #1 presented by Allstate
Lake Tohopekaliga - Kissimmee, FL, Jan 23 - 25, 2014

Fishing pressure hits Toho

About the author

Chris Lane

Chris Lane

Chris Lane is a four-time winner on the Bassmaster Tournament Trail and the 2012 Bassmaster Classic champion.

Back in December I wrote a column about bass fishing being better than ever. I stand by that thought, but I have to say that from what I’m seeing down here in Florida the pressure is beginning to show on Lake Tohopekaliga. The bite’s a little off.

I’m guessing that this is in part because of the first 2014 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open presented by Allstate that’s set to start on Thursday. There’s no off-limits period so the lakes have been covered over for days.

Maybe these lakes aren’t as big as we’d like to think they are, or we’re just getting to be better bass anglers. Either way, the bass aren’t biting the way they normally do.

I say lakes because, although the tournament is listed as being on Toho, there are really four lakes involved. There’s Toho; there’s Cypress; there’s Hatchineha; and, there’s Kissimmee. In total that creates well over 50,000 acres of water. It does not, however, offer much diversity. All of the lakes have basically the same types of vegetation and all of them are shallow.  

The fish are here. There’s no doubt about that. The thing is, though, they don’t want to bite much of anything. I think they’ve seen so many boats, as well as so many of the same baits, that they’re beginning to get conditioned. They seem to know that a big fat creature bait is a fake, that it’s not the real thing.

To be honest the weather hasn’t helped anything, either. This last week or so has been nothing but one cold front after another. The fish haven’t had a chance to get used to anything, and neither have the anglers.

All that said, it’s pretty nice today. We’re expecting a high of around 73 this afternoon. It’s in the 60-plus region now, and it isn’t even noon yet. But the low tonight is supposed to be 36 degrees. That’s cold in Florida and it’ll definitely affect the bite. Florida bass just don’t react well to overnight cold fronts. They don’t like them and they show it.

I’m not complaining about too many anglers. I like to fish and I like to compete in B.A.S.S. tournaments. I’ll never tell anyone else they shouldn’t do what I do, especially when you consider that the Opens are the only path to the Elites.

Nevertheless, this pressure, coupled with the unstable weather, takes a toll on the waters we fish and on the bass that live in them. There’s no getting around that.

The positive side of this is that it seems to be temporary. Once the pressure is off — even a little bit — things will return to normal. The bass never seem to hold a grudge and Mother Nature seems to have a pretty good grip on things.

Keep a couple of other things in mind, too. This is the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and it’s a B.A.S.S. professional level event. Somebody will get on them. We’ll see heavy sacks of big bass. You can be sure of that.

Chris Lane’s column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook or visit his website, www.chrislanefishing.com.

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