LEESBURG, Fla. — Their day started painfully slow, but once Nassau Christian Bass Club anglers Caleb Jackson and Evrett Hunter got their program rolling, they quickly sacked up a limit of 13 pounds, 13 ounces to win the Bassmaster Junior Series at the Harris Chain of Lakes.
Earning $296 each, Jackson and Hunter fished Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris and concentrated on shellbars in about 10 feet of water. Their main areas were about 100 yards long and their better bites came on the sections with the greatest density.
“When the shells were piled up, that’s where the fish were sitting,” Jackson said.
Despite a diligent effort, a cold, dreary morning was mostly uneventful. However, once the day’s conditions shifted favorably, the action was fast and furious.
“When the sun came out and the temperature rose, we started smashing them,” Jackson said. “That was at the very end, around 1 o’clock.”
Hunter said he and Jackson caught all of their fish on Carolina rigs with red Zoom Magnum Trick Worms on 3/0 hooks and 1-ounce weights. Long, patient casts that lasted about 90 seconds were necessary for coaxing bites.
“With the cold water, you definitely need a slower presentation,” Hunter said. “We prefer a 3-foot leader because it keeps the bait higher in the water column. The fish can’t see the weight as much, so the bait looks more natural.”
Casting discipline also proved impactful for the winners.
“Length of cast definitely made a difference,” Hunter said. “If you made too short of a cast, you’d land in the middle of the fish and spook them. You had to make sure you got out past them, so when you brought the bait to them, it looked like it was coming from the shore.”
Jackson said he and Hunter fished shellbars in both lakes and caught fish from each. They did the majority of their damage within an hour of check-in.
“We caught our first two big fish around 11 and upgraded all of our fish around 1 o’clock,” Jackson said. “We culled our final two fish at 1:30.”
Ty Cooper and Landen McLauchlin of the Central Florida Youth Anglers finished second with a two-fish bag that went 11-12. Cooper anchored their effort with his personal best 9-9, which earned big bass honors. The Central Florida Youth Anglers earned $195 each, plus $50 each for big bass.
The tournament was hosted by Lake County, the City of Leesburg and Greater Orlando Sports Commission.