2014 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #1 presented by Allstate
Lake Tohopekaliga - Kissimmee, FL, Jan 23 - 25, 2014

My Toho plan

About the author

Shaye Baker

Shaye Baker

Though Shaye Baker spent his college years fishing in front of the camera, he now finds himself behind it pursuing a career in outdoor journalism. For more from Shaye, click here.

After a close call at the Bassmaster Classic Wild Card presented by Star Tron last month, I really, really want to win one of these things. I thought I did before, but coming so close and letting it slip through my fingers has put a new fire under me. I’m going to need that fire out on Toho this week. 

With lows in the 30’s throughout practice and the tournament, this one is going to be a grind. I know it’s hard to complain about 30 degree weather when the rest of the country is well below freezing, but 30 degrees down here really does a number on these Florida strain bass. 

Since the bite is tough, I feel like 28 pounds for the first two days will probably make the top 12 to fish on Saturday. The majority of the weight in that 28 pounds will come from 2 or 3 key bites. That’s about what it took last year and the weather wasn’t quite as bad. 

Someone could easily win this tournament offshore, but it definitely won’t be me. I have no confidence fishing that way, so I’ve dedicated my entire practice to finding a few key mats. I have five areas that I have confidence in, I’m hoping 2 or 3 will produce. 

Basically I’ll start my day with two flipping sticks on deck and hope to end it the same way. Over the last year I’ve become good friends with Rich Howes who won the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Open on Toho. I have to credit him for teaching me a lot of what I know about flipping. He’s taken me under his wing this year and it has totally changed how I fish in Florida. 

A good flipper always stands a chance to win in Florida, 365 days out of the year. I’ve always known that but never could commit to the flipping stick. I’m not a good flipper yet by any means but I do feel like I have a chance as long as I commit to the flip. So that’s what I’m going to do. We’ll see how it goes! 

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