The storied waters of the Kissimmee Chain, which include lakes Tohopekaliga, Cypress, Hatchineha and Kissimmee, as well as the Kissimmee River itself, have produced some of the most historic catches in BASS history. Included are Dean Rojas' single-day record catch of 45-2 and Rick Clunn's second consecutive Classic win.
The Kissimmee Chain offers extensive areas of shallow vegetation, and when the pros arrive here for the Citrus Slam, they'll likely find bass in all stages of the spawn within that vegetation, which includes hydrilla, pads, hyacinths and other greenery. Expect a lot of flipping and pitching of soft plastics, often to specific bass.
Other options include crankbaiting, jigging, spinnerbaiting and topwater fishing with frogs, depending on weather and water conditions. When Rojas caught his one-day record, he was sight fishing, but when Clunn won his Classic, he caught his biggest fish on a buzzbait.
There are plenty of big bass here, too. During the 2006 Bassmaster Classic, Preston Clark caught an 11-10 giant, the heaviest bass ever caught in a Classic.
Even though it's a long run from Toho, the uppermost lake, to Kissimmee at the lower end of the chain, the pros often fish both in a day. Kissimmee is larger, so there's more water to fish and it usually has less pressure, which is one reason the pros make the long run south.
Some pros lock through the dam on Kissimmee to fish the river itself, which offers still more weedy cover. During that wild, record-setting 2006 Classic, second-place finisher Rick Morris fished the river and brought in 51-0.
There is certainly no shortage of things to do in the area. The all-new Cypress Gardens Adventure Park includes three roller coasters, botanical gardens, and world famous water-ski shows. Another option for visitors is to watch birds and other wildlife at Historic Bok Sanctuary, which features a 205-foot Singing Tower that fills the sanctuary with the sounds of a 60-bell carillon recital. (www.visitcentralflorida.org)