LEESBURG, Fla. — If you're in Central Florida and you can't afford the rollercoasters in Orlando, enter a tournament on the Harris Chain of Lakes.Just ask, among others, Bill Lowen, Bryan Hudgins, and Billy Brewer. They were 1-2-3 after Day One, and none of them broke 10 pounds on Day Two.
"I just didn't get the big bites today," Hudgins said. "Every day I'm on this lake it's different. That's all right — a lot can happen in a day."
But they were just the two most obvious examples. Dave Wolak dropped 6 pounds, Dean Rojas and Fred Roumbanis almost 8 apiece, Cliff Pace just over 8 and Ray Sedgwick was one ounce from dropping an even 11 pounds, from 15-14 on Day One to 4-15 on Day Two.
One after another, whether their bag jumped up like Bobby Lane, Stephen Browning and Mark Menendez, or down like those mentioned above, everybody just shook their head and said something about "Florida fishing" and "a kicker fish."
"That was the exact same bag I weighed in yesterday, just without the 8-pounder," Wolak said of his 11-13 weight on Friday.
Then there are the guys who haven't had kicker fish on either day. Kevin VanDam, Skeet Reese and Russ Lane all talked about two days without a kicker. VanDam said he was fishing behind Bobby Lane all day and never got a look at any of the 6-pounders that anchored Lane's 26-9 bag on Friday.
"We're doing the same things, but he's just hitting the spots before me," VanDam said. "It's just a timing thing. There were just not that many places that were right today, and he was always there when I got there."
Both Wolak and Hudgins said their Day One hotspots were covered up with anglers when they got there on Day Two.
"I saw maybe five anglers yesterday and I saw about 30 today," Hudgins said of Orange Park, Fla. "Tomorrow, I'm going to try a completely new spot that's always been good to me. I didn't even prefish it, but I'm just going to try and get away from the crowd."
Browning, who had never broken 10 pounds on the Harris Chain in 13 years with BASS, finally found his kicker fish to add to the bag on Friday, and it put him well over the top with 16-9. He said it's a game of patience.
"There might be one nice fish on a stretch of 300 yards of bank," Browning said. "You just hope that you're fortunate enough to put it in front of that one quality fish.
"The key is to cover short distances. Don't cast every 3 feet, cast every 6-to-8 inches. Cover every bit of it.
Browning is counting on the spawning bass, but in the lakes on the Harris Chain, it's not something that he can see.
"It's bed fishing but not sight fishing," he said. "This is a weird lake. You have to rely a lot on your electronics and try to a hard bottom where they might have a bed."
And if an angler finds that bed, he'll be smiling on stage. If he doesn't, it will probably be another 8- to 10-pound day. Todd Faircloth, who added a kicker fish to his bag Friday, jumping his weight from 11-13 on Day One to 15-3 on Day Two, summed it up as his fish flopped around on the scale.
"That's Florida fishing for you," he said. "You never know which bite could be the big one."
Visit Bassmaster.com for full coverage of the Elite Series Sunshine Showdown on the Harris Chain of Lakes, from Leesburg, Fla., March 6th–9th, 2008. Daily weigh-ins with live streaming video and real-time leaderboards start at 4 p.m. ET. "Hooked Up" will air Sunday at 10 a.m., noon and 3:30 p.m. ET. And a reminder … Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday, so remember to set your clocks.