It’s Sunday. We’re on our way to Palatka from the airport in Orlando to get ready to prefish the St. Johns River. After the Classic I stayed a couple of days in Florida to so some fun fishing and get acclimated to the Florida bass thing. I left my boat and truck near the airport when I flew home so when we came back down here we’d have everything ready to go.
I want to get off to a good start this year. With the first two Elite tournaments in Florida that’s going to be a challenge. Florida fishing hasn’t been all that good to me over the years.
Back in 2006 when I won the Toyota Tundra Bassmaster Angler of the Year award I had a good start and that made a world of difference in my fishing. A solid start creates a positive attitude, and I want a positive attitude this year. Fishing a couple of Sundays this month, and maybe a win, will do that.
Florida has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. It’s the fish — I think. I don’t know what it is about them that I don’t understand but it’s something. It’s not just the strain of bass, either. I’ve fished the Florida-strain in Texas and haven’t noticed anything all that unusual. But here in Florida they act different.
It might have something to do with the lakes and rivers. They’re shallower and in some ways very different than the rest of the country. For one thing you have to slow down and pick apart the cover to catch them.
To be fair, slowing down and fishing carefully isn’t new to me. I can do that. But down here you have to slow down, and then drop your Power-Poles and slow down some more. It’s crazy, how guys fish Florida waters. Sometimes you have to take a sight off a tree to see if they’re moving — and then you find out they’re not.
Another thing is the bite. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tournament in this state that was won by the same pattern all four days, or three in the case of an Open. It’s like every day you have to change to get the bites. I mean really change with different areas, different baits and different speeds. That really puts a premium on knowing the fish and understanding what they’re likely to do if something changes, as it always does.
And so we end up at the place of the beginning. You have to understand the fish. I’m not sure that I do but I hope that my two days will help. Of course, I didn’t fish the river so I’m at a little disadvantage there. I fished on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. That’s not the same but it’s Florida, something that’ll start my thinking process. I hope so anyway.
Next week we’ll talk about some new baits I’ll be fishing this year. Unless I win, that is. Then we’ll talk about the tournament.