The 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series season officially kicks off tomorrow morning here on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida. Last year’s season opening tournament on this very same fishery proved to be a big bass bonanza, but the Elite Series anglers were singing a different tune for this weeks derby. Reports of the St. Johns being “tough” and “a grinder” were widely discussed.
While Bassmaster Elite Series pros are famous for sandbagging about their practice days, one thing they all have on their minds for this week’s tournament is weather. The forecast for Thursday through Sunday has a little bit of everything. With high winds and sunshine on Thursday, followed by rain and a substantial cold front moving in Friday.
It’s no secret Florida bass behavior is extremely susceptible to changes in the weather, so we asked Team Toyota pros Brandon Lester and Matt Arey along with Carhartt pro Caleb Sumrall what to expect.
Q: How will the erratic and inconsistent weather affect this four-day event?
Caleb Sumrall: “Weather is everything this week. These Florida fish are trying to get shallow and spawn, but the weather dictates when they’ll do it. The guy who wins this event will likely have to change what they are doing every single day. You’re going to have to play the conditions and make fast, confident decisions.”
Matt Arey: “Florida fish are constantly on the move this time of year. I think the changing weather will put a lot more fish in transition areas than usual, which makes staying on them tough. The weather each day will dictate where guys need to focus their efforts, and I’m guessing it’ll change day by day.”
Brandon Lester: “Thursdays forecast (high winds) will make boat positioning and sight fishing extremely difficult, which is usually what dominates the tournament after day 1 on this fishery. After that, we’ve got a cold front which will make the fishing all around tougher in my opinion. The weather is going to have a big affect for sure.”
Q: How much weight per day will it take to make the top 12 this week?
Caleb Sumrall: “I’m going to say 16-lbs. a day will be good this week.”
Matt Arey: “17-lbs. per day… realistically probably more.”
Brandon Lester: “15-lbs a day.”