Big turnaround on Friday at the Open

I don’t think a man could live long enough to experience all the things that can happen when you fish bass tournaments. I really don’t.

We can start this conversation by noting that a guy from New York, Andrew Slegona, fished a classic Florida lake and brought over 30 pounds to the scales the first day. And, if I’m right, he’d never been to Florida before.

I’ve most certainly been to Florida before and I ended the first day in 158th place. But, by Friday night I was in 17th place. Here’s how it happened…

I’d prefished Toho for quite a while before this tournament. I thought I had a decent handle on what was happening with the lake and the bass. I had fish marked and thought I could catch a pretty good sack. What I didn’t do was factor in the weather change.

It turned nasty cold the night before we launched. Nevertheless I went to the spots I had marked. That wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve ever made. I ended the day with three fish that weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces.  

It would be nice if I could tell you that I thought the whole thing through and made the necessary changes on Friday, but that wouldn’t be the truth. What actually happened was that the wind was blowing so hard I had to make changes.

I ended up in the Kissimmee River fishing bladed jigs and a Carolina rig. By that afternoon I had four good fish in my livewell and one dink. I wanted a 20 pound sack. I kept fishing, hoping to cull up. After what seemed like forever I got a bite and missed it on my Carolina rig. Then I got a second bite — same thing.   

When I finally got a third bite I set the hook too hard and broke off by leader at the sinker. I retied and tossed everything out again. A fish took it almost immediately. This time I was more careful. When I finally got her into the boat I realized she had a 4-foot leader and a plastic worm hanging out of her mouth. Sure enough, they were mine.

I know that sounds crazy and I wouldn’t blame you if you questioned me about it. Two bites from the same fish less than 5 minutes apart is bizarre. I’m telling you, though, that it happened.

Maybe that tells us something about the fish we chase. First, you’ll not deter them if they want something to eat. When they’re feeding, they’re feeding. Second, they can’t possibly feel anything like pain. If they did, that bass would not have been eating. She would have stayed as far away from another plastic worm as possible.  

I carried 5 bass to the scales that weighed 20 pounds, 15 ounces. That was good enough to give me the Allstate Good Hands, Great Day award. On Thursday evening I was a little down, thinking that this year wasn’t getting off to a very good start. Obviously, that’s all changed now.  I’m ready for the Elite Series to get underway. 

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