ORLANDO, Fla. -- Win, lose or an even draw – that’s what two pro anglers had to deal with on what would have been the final day of the first Bass Pro Shops Southern Open.
Richard Howes, the Day Two leader, and Daniel Lanier, the Day One leader, both finished this event with a three-day total of 47 pounds, 2 ounces. Because they can’t split a bass boat, a cash prize or valuable points toward a berth in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, they’ll have to fish one more day.
The score will be settled on Sunday when the anglers, both who live within 45 minutes of Lake Tohopekaliga, will fish in a five-hour “fish off.” The same rules as the past three days apply, meaning both men will be in search of the heaviest five-fish bag they can on the Kissimmee Chain. They’ll just have a shorter time to do their thing. They are scheduled to leave Big Toho Marina at 7 a.m. and be able to fish until noon.
It was obvious that neither Howes or Lanier knew a fish-off was in store when they weighed in at the Bass Pro Shop on International Drive on Saturday afternoon. Howes, who led going into the second day with 32 pounds, 8 ounces, caught, 14-10 to tie Lanier, who only minutes earlier, bagged 16-12 to take the lead. Lanier led after Day One, but fell from the top spot after struggling on Friday.
Though they’ll be sleeping at home tonight, it doesn’t make Monday any easier. Howes said he’s been locking down to Lake Kissimmee and probably won’t have the chance to do that on Sunday with the tighter time constraints. That doesn't make his potential night of sleep any easier.
“I can’t miss two hours,” he said. “I thought it would be biggest bag, biggest bass [to determine the winner]. But, it is what it is. It’s exciting. But to be honest with you, I wish it would have ended today one way or the other. But, we’ve got to go for keeps tomorrow.”
Lanier said he too was perplexed with the odd ending to Saturday’s weigh-in. He couldn’t get off his mind the fact he only landed 2 pounds, 11 ounces of fish on Friday. A higher total , he said, would have made the Sunday fish-off unnecessary.
“I’m beating myself up,” he said. “But I’ve got to put it behind me. Whatever happens tomorrow, happens.”
Howes, who weighed in last on Saturday, was worried about his bag while he waited in the queue for the weigh-in. He indicated that the cold front that moved through Central Florida on Thursday may have had an effect on his bite, as well as those of his competitors.
“It was the second day after a cold front in Florida,” he said. “I didn’t get a bite until maybe noon or a little bit after that. I went and got some small ones. But the bigger fish came later.”
Dean Rojas set the standard on Toho with his five-fish bag of 45 pounds, 2 ounces way back in 2001. Leaning to the greatness of that haul, no angler at the 2013 Southern Open here came within even 16 pounds of that catch.
ANOHTER TOHO NOTE
B.A.S.S. is well-known for its conservation efforts, and the tournament at Toho has been no different.
The first B.A.S.S. tournament utilizing the catch-and-release effort was held here in 1972. Tom Mann won that landmark event.
Jordan Card made the Top 12 pro cut and had some explaining to do when he took the stage on Saturday. Before thanking his sponsors, he took care of someone equally important.
“First, I have to say hello to my mom,” Card said. “I forgot the other day and she wasn’t too happy about it.”
Consider her taken care of, Jordan.