Elite Destinations: Harris Chain of Lakes

The 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series begins on one of central Florida's most challenging waterways, the Harris Chain of Lakes, which actually consists of nine separate bodies of water. The pros, however, generally fish only six of them: Lake Harris and Little Lake Harris, Eustis, Griffin, Yale and Dora.

 Each of the lakes has its own personality and fishes differently from the others. Although the anglers who will be competing in the Sunshine Showdown will test each of the lakes during practice, most will end up in only one or two of them; cover, structure, and water temperature nearly always create conditions that make one lake shine brighter than the others that particular week.

 Overall, the water in these lakes is dark and stained, with Kissimmee grass, lily pads and bulrush making up most of the vegetation. Most pros concentrate on this, flipping and pitching jigs and soft plastics. There also are boat docks and sea walls, as well as different canals connecting the various lakes. At times, the canals provide better bass action than the lakes.

 Surprisingly, some deep water also is present in several of the lakes, including a 15-foot ditch along the south shore of Lake Harris and a sinkhole in Lake Eustis.

In March, the bass may be in postspawn, particularly in Lake Dora, which is often the first lake to "turn on" in the spring. That means the bass will be ready to begin feeding again, and catches could be good. Bass in the 8- to 10-pound class are certainly present in the lakes, and in early 2007 a number of large bass from the small lakes near the Orlando airport, two of which were in the 14-pound range, were released into Lake Griffin.

 Answers to practically any question you ever had about gardening can be found at Discovery Garden, the 3.5-acre Lake County Horticultural Learning Center where 20 separate themed gardens with more than 700 different plants are open for study and casual visitation. (www.lakecountyfl.gov/visitors)