We got word this morning of an altercation between two competitors at the lock on the south end of Lake Toho. Reportedly Keith Poche bumped into Ish Monroe’s boat in the lock. A scuffle broke out and both anglers ended up in the water. According to eyewitnesses, other competitors fished Monroe and Poche out of the water. Tournament officials are investigating.
Followed Todd Auten from the top of Lake Toho, through the lock and to Lake Cypress. Within his first five casts in Cypress he hooks up with his fourth keeper. He just needs one of those Florida giants now. He has a 4-pounder, a 2-pounder, a 13- and 14-inch in the livewell. One more to fill his limit.
After boating the fish Auten looks over and says look at Swindle trying to hide over there. Gerald Swindle isn't far from our spot now.
McMillan just boated keeper Nos. 3, 4, 5 and added No. 6 in rapid succession off the same clump of pads. All small. Each bite more exciting and disappointing for McMillan than the previous one. "They're spawning on these pad stems. All week, I'll catch a little buck, pitch right back in there and catch the female." No females here. Looks like Mcmillan's found the bachelor pad. Mmm. Couldn't resist the pun.
On Day 2, the Top 5 from Day 1 weighed a combined 30 pounds, 10 ounces. That's half a pound less than Day 1 leader Andrew Slegona had alone. The Kissimmee Chain holds tons of giant bass and when the stars align you catch multiple giants. However, factor in a little more boat pressure or a little shift in the wind, and a guy like Joey Nania who connected with 3 giants on Day 1 to amass 25-1 doesn't get those bites and weighs one fish for 1-3 on Day 2.
And that's not a knock on Nania. He was doing what it takes to win, fishing for giants. The elusive key to winning in Florida is consistency. And until you've been punched in the face a few dozen times by Florida cold fronts, you have a very hard time being consistent. That's why guys like Nania and Slegona have a hard time putting multiple days together where Florida natives like McMillan and Bobby Lane stand a better chance of regrouping when the wind shifts and muddies a hole or the bite changes a bit.
The most consistent angler, Todd Auten, is a prime example that with time, one can learn consistency in Florida without living here. Auten sits in second with 9 fish for 36-8. A little better than a 4 pound average. Day 1 Auten found himself around the Top 10 with 16-2 for 4 and on Day 2, with a wind out of the complete opposite direction, made his move with a limit worth 20-6. That's consistent.
Auten has been around the game of professional bass fishing for years and I'm sure in his younger days caught a few left hooks from lakes like Toho and Okeechobee. Those experiences, the ones Slegona and Nania are going through now - the ones that have you scratching your head on the long drive home to New York - those are the ones that win you tournaments 10 years from now.
Todd Auten is making a move from the top of Toho. Headed towards the lock it looks like.
For about a second and a half McMillan bowed up on what looked to be a good one. The fish pulled free. We never saw it but the loss definitely rattled McMillan a bit.
"Hate I lost that one. If I get a bite here, they've been good ones." 'Here' consists of a sparse likypad field. McMillan is pitching a jig to little clumps of pads.
"I haven't felt a bite all week," McMillan said after checking what he thought was a bite with a swing and a miss. This bite is subtle but shows up well on the weigh-in stage when McMillan puts them in the boat. This is what McMillan did on Day 1 to catch 24-9.
I knew multiple pros were in this area. Kelley Jaye is in here, and he has a limit for about 11-12 pounds.
"You missed the action earlier," said Jaye. "You'll have to come check out what an 8 pounder will do to treble hooks."
Jaye knows he needed that monster.
Just found Andrew Slegona the Day 1 leader. No keepers yet, but Slegona is the only pro in his area, but a bunch of locals are around him. Plenty of space to fish, but multiple boats occupying it. He is still banking on catching the bedding female he saw yesterday.
There's nothing Brandon McMillan enjoys more the flipping heavy cover in his native state of Florida. Unfortunately for McMillan and other flippers, the majority of Kissimmee's beautiful mats have been eaten alive by mowers that are trying to keep the vegetation from getting out of hands. No mats, lemon. So McMillan is making lemonade. The same areas he would usually flip, are now open fields with hydrilla just under the surface. McMillan is fishing overtop that hydrilla with a Devil's Horse as well as keying in on clumps of arrowhead reeds where bass are spawning. When the Devil's Horse comes over head, the spawners show themselves and occasionally grab a hook. Then the fun begins.