First off let me congratulate Takahiro Omori on his win in the 2018 Bassmaster Elite at Lake Martin presented by Econo Lodge. He did one heck of a good job and deserved to win.
Now I want to talk a little bit about the 2018 Bass Pro Shops Eastern Open on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes where I won a couple of weeks ago. I think what I did might help a lot of Florida anglers and, really, anglers who fish a lot of different places, too.
I’ll begin with the weather. About three weeks before the tournament started it was cold in Central Florida. Nighttime temperatures dropped into the 30s and daytime temperatures sometimes didn’t get out of the 50s. That might not sound cold to some of you but for here it’s brutal.
After that we had high winds that blew like crazy from every direction on the compass. Water temperatures in Toho moved from about 56 degrees to 62 degrees. It never got higher than that, and that’s saying something.
That creates tough fishing on the Kissimmee Chain. The bass in those lakes can’t move up or down very far so they have to move sideways to deal with tough conditions. That tends to shut them down and at the same time it’ll move them around. That’s not a good combination if you’re a bass angler.
In practice I found a spot with clear water between 2 and 3 feet deep over hydrilla. I only caught one fish in there, but I knew that was the key. So, instead of continuing to fish I just ran the lakes looking for spots that were just like it. I found three and marked them.
When the tournament started I fished those spots slow and moved from one to another. Now, when I mean slow, I’m talking real slow. There were times when I’d move my boat less than 150 yards over a 3-hour period. I picked everything apart that was in front of me.
What I did was go back to my roots and fish the way I knew to in Florida when things turned tough. If there’s a lesson in that, it’s just that. Sometimes you have to go with what you know and hope for the best.
Another thing that’s just as important is that you can’t get in a hurry just because you aren’t getting a bite or catching what you think you should. That’s the mistake many of the guys fishing the Open made. If they didn’t get a bite right away they moved to a new spot. As a result they struggled to catch 10 pounds.
I was fishing so slow that it was painful. But, the thing was I only had three good, big bass spots so why get in a hurry. It’s not like I had a dozen other options.
The real thing was to let the fish come to me. I knew I was in good areas so I just kept throwing and picking apart everything that was available to me. It might have been that the fish were turning on over-time while I was fishing, but I think it’s more likely that they were moving in, out and around.
Trust your instincts and don’t get in a hurry.