Looking towards the Southern Open

We’re a week away from the first Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open of 2014. Actually, we’re a week away from the first B.A.S.S. professional level tournament of the season. Some would say the official start of the year is the GEICO Bassmaster Classic but for those of us who didn’t qualify, and for some who did qualify, next week is when it all begins.

I’m really looking forward to getting back in the saddle. Florida fun fishing is nice but Florida tournament fishing is better, especially when you’re looking at starting on Lake Tohopekaliga. In my opinion, it’s one of the best bass lakes around. That’s even more true if you think about the possibility of catching the biggest bass of your life.

Look at the records. Toho has produced a substantial number of giants over the years. This is the time when it can be done, too. Late January is the beginning of the spawn. Some of the bass will undoubtedly be on the beds while others will be in their full prespawn mode. Either way, they’ll be as big as they’re going to be this year.

The cold spell we experienced last week shouldn’t hurt the fish much. It was far enough away that they’ll recover, I think. Of course, if we get another one like that in the next week, they could be moving a little late. Regardless of the weather, however, they’ll be big and fat. That’s for sure.

There won’t be an angler launching his or her boat that doesn’t have that thought in the back of their minds. It’s a part of what we’re about. In truth, it’s one of the things that keeps us going. We all want to think that our personal best — one bass or a five-fish sack — is just around the corner.

That’ll really be the case with me. I had a third place finish on the Kissimmee Chain at the first Southern Open back in 2007. I can’t help but think about that year as I start this year fishing the same chain of lakes. I’m not going to hold anything back — I want a repeat!

After Toho, I’m going to visit Lake Seminole and the St. Johns River before they go off-limits for the Elite events. (I might even try to make a short visit to Table Rock on my way back to Columbus.) I want to put every possible effort into my performance this year. Part of that is spending time on the lakes that we’re going to be fishing. You can always learn something new, something you didn’t know before.

What I said last week about good not being good enough applies to me just like it does to every other angler. If a fellow is going to make a go of it in this business, he has to be serious. Being able to catch bass doesn’t mean a thing. Every angler fishing the Elite Series can do that.

As you can tell, I’m pumped up and feeling positive. This is a new year that offers a new beginning. I’m ready to get started.

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