Lesson learned on Harris Chain

Last week’s Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at the Harris Chain was a prime example of how challenging the postspawn period can be. I had a poor performance at that event, and a lot of that had to do with the fact the fish weren’t settled into their summer patterns.

You have some fish that haven’t fully transitioned out yet and that makes it pretty difficult. You can fish those deeper spots — their summer haunts they’re coming to — and you might get a few bites, but not very many.

It’s almost a wave, and it can be so tricky. It might be a matter of hours that the school can pull out there after they get done spawning. But you also still have a group of fish up shallow.

You’re trying to transition yourself from going for those shallow fish to the midrange or deeper. That can be tough — especially for those quality fish.

This whole deal becomes even more challenging in Florida, due to the extended spawning season. Florida bass can spawn from January to April, depending on the year, so there’s often a lot of overlap in the spawning stages.

It’s almost like you can pick your poison — you can stay out and only look for deeper fish, or you just stick with the shallow bite.

The Harris Chain was a great example of this; there were guys doing a little bit of everything. Jacob Powroznik caught a 10 1/2-pounder on a bed.

I spent my time fishing the midrange depths. I had a pretty good practice and found some good areas. I went to three or four different lakes, and I ended up trying to fish them all instead of staying in one and trying to figure it out.

I knew that was going to be a problem, because when I start moving around like that, it’s not going to be good. You get bites in different places, and if you look for the same thing, that could be going away this time of year.

I think the biggest mistake I made was not going to Lake Apopka on Day 1. That’s where my best bites were, but I felt like the 35-minute lock cycle would be a problem for me.

I was mid-pack in the takeoff order, and that would put me in a bad rotation and possibly losing two to three hours of fishing time. That would be way too much.

Generally speaking, when I’m facing this postspawn funk, I tend to stick with my shallow-water preferences. That’s mostly what I’m expecting for this week’s Elite at the St. Johns River, but there could be a little more bed fishing.

That fishery is about an hour north of the Harris Chain, so we’ll still have some fish spawning. With the St. Johns being a tidal fishery, they might spawn a little differently than in inland lakes.

I’ll stick with my shallow-water stuff. I’ll put a ChatterBait and a swim jig in my hand, and hopefully we’ll have a little bit of the shad spawn going on. I’ll try to figure out some stuff early in the morning and then go flip some stuff later in the day.