2013 Carhartt College Series Southern Regional
Harris Chain of Lakes - Tavares, FL, Jan 4 - 5, 2013

How Bethel won the Southern Regional

We knew we had to figure out how to catch the bigger fish in order to have any chance at all of winning the event. So on the fourth day of practice, we decided to go and check out Lake Harris. This lake had the same clarity as Lake Eustis, so we figured that we would be able to catch some fish, but we would still have to figure out where those big females were hiding. We fished a stretch of Kissimmee grass for about two hours that morning and never had a bite, so we decided to go back into some of the canals on Lake Harris, which are known for having the big females during the spawn. We saw a few males up in the shallow canals, but we never saw any big females that had moved up. We then fished our way out of a canal and found a stretch of lily pads in this one canal that was loaded with buck bass, but the biggest we caught was only 2 1/2 pounds.

We finished off day four searching for gin clear water and just hoping that we would find a wave of big females that had pushed into the back of a canal. Well, we never found the first fish, so we were back to square one. After seeing no big females in the back of the canals or up in the Kissimmee grass we came to the conclusion that those big females were still in a prespawn stage. Now, we had to figure out where they live on these lakes in the prespawn stage. We decided to take a few more reaction baits with us on the final full day of practice and cover as much water as possible. We went back to Lake Griffin to see if the water had cleared up, but it didn’t take long for us to figure out that it was still too dingy. We did find one canal on Lake Griffin that had about 25 to 28 pounds of females cruising getting ready to spawn, but they weren’t catchable. We took out of Lake Griffin at about noon and headed to Lake Harris. We started off throwing Strike Red Eye Shads on the outside of the Kissimmee grass. We caught a few fish and began to put a pattern together. Everywhere we found a small pocket with six feet of water, we found fish. We kept running this pattern and though we were only catching small buck bass, we were catching a lot of them, and I had a good feeling we were on the right track. We kept working hard and hit every pocket we saw.

Finally, about an hour before we had to go in we pulled up to a pocket, I fired my Strike Red Eye Shad (gold-and-black) out and started ripping it through some underwater grass and a 5-pounder crushed it! I knew that this could be the area we had been looking for, so we didn’t make another cast in the area waiting to explore it more on tournament day. We finished our final full day of practice on cloud nine. We spent the next half day of practice trying to find an area that was exactly like this one but once again, we only found buck bass.