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

Harris Chain is on my mind

About the author

Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

I’m sitting here in Michigan watching it snow like crazy as the outside temperature dives into the teens.

Meanwhile, several of my friends are at the Harris Chain in sunny Florida, kicking off the Bass Pro Shops Southern Opens.

Man, I wish I were there.

Don’t get me wrong, I needed this offseason break, but I’m ready to go again. I can’t wait to get out fishing.

I wanted to fish the Harris event but I had to look at the big picture and get fully recovered from my recent hernia operation. I have to get back to full strength before the Classic; I don’t want to go through this again.

But a guy can dream, right?

I’ve been watching the weather around the Harris Chain and thinking about what I would do if I were there.

I’ve always liked fishing in Florida, especially at the Harris Chain. I’ve had good tournaments but I’ve also struggled. The Florida cold fronts are the toughest to figure out but I love that challenge.

So, while daydreaming, I’ve formulated my own game plan of how I might fish if I were there. I’ll be anxious to see how it plays out against the guys who are fishing.

During last March’s Elite Series event held at Harris, I found some hydrilla growing in the lake. One of my best spots was an isolated patch just outside the Kissimmee grass. I was catching late prespawners that were just moving into the hydrilla from winter areas before they ventured on up into the Kissimmee grass.

If I were there now, I’d be throwing a KVD 1.5 or Red Eye Shad trying to find those stretches of grass holding fish. I’ve seen days when you could go through a 50-yard stretch and catch 25 bass that way. Of course, finding the sweet spot in that grass is the key.

Later in the day, as the shallow water temps rise, I’d look for bass to pull into the Kissimmee grass and try to catch them by flipping a finesse worm or stick worm rigged on a light sinker.

A key to fishing Florida is sun and wind. The wind helps position the bass on the edge of the grasslines and the sun moves them shallow. The afternoon bite is always better, too.

I’m sure a lot of guys will do well sight fishing in the canals but I don’t think that’s how this event will be won.

The Elite pros that are there are only focused on winning since that gets their ticket punched to the Classic. They will be looking for more reliable areas where bass bunch up and can provide good limits throughout the tournament.

Another pattern would be flipping the pad stems in the lily pad fields, such as those in the river between the lakes. The bass will start moving in there to spawn and that’s a pattern worth checking as the water warms.

In the meantime, I’ll be watching how it plays on Bassmaster.com and wishing I were there. And, as I wait the arrival of my new boat, I’ll be working on tackle and dreaming about how I’m gonna catch ‘em in Shreveport.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude.

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