Friendly face in the crowd

Hometown fishermen are used to seeing friends and family in the weigh-in crowd, but for an angler competing nearly 1,700 miles from home, spotting a familiar face is a big deal. 

An even bigger deal — when that friend sees the angler win all the marbles. 

Such was the case for Keith Tuma of Brainerd, Minn., who made the Top 10 at the Bassmaster Southern Open at Harris Chain of Lakes and Chad Ingvalson, who watched his pal post the event’s biggest bag — a limit of 26 pounds, 2 ounces — and top the field with a three-day total of 58-13. 

That alone, would’ve been a cool story, but Ingvalson defined friendship with his tale of travel dedication. 

“I booked the ticket about 8:30 Friday night and then I got up at 3 (Saturday) morning and drove down to Minneapolis and flew into Orlando,” Ingvalson said. 

Tuma and Ingvalson have fished a lot together back in Minnesota. Safe to say they’ll have plenty of good memories to relive the next time they hit the water.

Wetherell locked in place

"I've lost four good fish."

And with that comment to Andy Crawford, Alex Wetherell likely is staying put. He is now methodically working a very specific, isolated clump of aquatic vegetation.

Wetherell has good reason to stay. Conditions are about to change, with showers moving in off the Gulf coast.

Wetherell scores in Dora

Upon arrival in Lake Dora, Alex Wetherell landed a keeper, just as planned. This is his fourth of the day. caught offshore.

His tournament strategy has been to start near the launch site in Lake Harris, and then move to Lake Dora, the most productive of the two lakes for the Connecticut angler.

Yesterday, Wetherell told me that being "efficient" was the key for him.

"I've learned how to understand the grass and distinguish what I'm looking for," he said.

When he catches a keeper, as he just did. Wetherell puts down his bladed jig and picks up a Texas-rigged worm. That is where efficiency comes in.

“It’s really efficiency-based. I want to be able to work a bait through the grass without getting hung up too much to where I’m not efficient in my cast.”

This is only Wetherell's second trip to the Harris Chain, although he's found success fishing offshore grass in Florida in the past. He finished 6th at a 2018 Open held not far away, on the Kissimmee Chain.

Webster on the board

And we're on the board...just a little ol' 1-pounder but it was a clue!