KISSIMMEE, Fla. — The weather in Kissimmee was sublime last weekend with bluebird skies and balmy temperatures. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Shaw Grigsby even broke a sweat while practice fishing on Lake Tohopekaliga for the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open presented by Allstate, Jan. 23-25.
“If the weather stays like it is now, it would be amazing fishing,” said Grigsby, who hails from Gainesville, Fla. “With these conditions, we could see a tournament like when Dean Rojas won quite a few years back.”
It was in January 2001 when Rojas won in Kissimmee with 108 pounds, 12 ounces, an impressive victory that Grigsby believes can be duplicated. With that win, Rojas also secured the all-time one-day catch record for a five-bass-limit tournament with 45-pounds, 2 ounces.
“This is a great lake — one of the best lakes in the state of Florida because it has the big fish,” Grigsby said. “You have the potential to catch a 13-pounder with every flip, every pitch, every cast.
“The last few weeks, everyone has been saying it’s really tough fishing here, and the weights are down. But that’s not going to happen in this tournament. You’ll see normal stringers in the 12- to 14-pound range. Then you’ll see guys with over 20, and one guy who really gets on it and has a 30-pound stringer.”
Grigsby predicts that the cold weather, which may be a factor, will really only hinder the sight fishing. He anticipates the first morning of the tournament to be in the 36-degree temperature range, which will push the bass off the beds but not off the bite.
“I’m excited about it and looking forward to it,” Grigsby said. “The cool thing about this time of year is that you can catch fish doing it all. If you like cranking and doing that stuff, fine. If you like flipping and pitching, you’re good to go.”
Grigsby, who hosts his own television show, One More Cast, sometimes films on Lake Toho and tries to visit the fishery at least once a year for the opportunity to bring in a monster bass.
“I like to sight fish in February when you can find 12-, 13- or even 14-pounders,” Grigsby said. “This is always a great place to fish.”
Boats will take off daily at 7 a.m. local time from Big Toho Marina, 101 Lakeshore Blvd., Kissimmee, FL 34741. Weigh-ins on Days 1 and 2 will be held at the same location at 3 p.m. ET. On Saturday, the final weigh-in will be held at Bass Pro Shops, 5156 International Dr., Orlando, FL 32819 at 4 p.m. ET.