Well Toho was the first Florida lake that I got a check on. I had fished several tournaments on Okeechobee to no avail. I had also been in one on Toho that didn’t go that well. That changed in 2009 during the PAA tournament. I finished 33rd in this event. I had gotten some things figured out the last couple of tournaments I have fished in Florida so I was looking forward to this tournament.
Practice: It was still pretty chilly when I arrived to the Kissimmee area. I wasn’t expecting much and I was surprised! The first day of practice it was windy and rainy most of the day. I decided to spend this day on Toho. I had a few small bites and I boated a eight incher on the last cast of the day. The second day was slightly better on Kissimmee. I had fished most of the morning and around 10 a.m. I had some motor issues. I found an area where I had a few bites pretty quick then I had to get my motor checked out. My dad picked up the boat and took it to the service trailer. I was fortunate that my good friend (and fellow competitor) Mark Mauldin was in the area and took me out the rest of the day. We caught a few more that day, but no big ones. I spent the half of a day on Kissimmee and caught a few more keepers size fish.
Day 1: With all of my good fishing coming from Kissimmee, it was an easy choice to go down there. I fished a couple of places early, but hadn’t done any good. I moved a little further down to an area I had a few flipping bites in. I hadn’t been there long when the first keeper came aboard. It wasn’t much longer and my co-angler informed me that I had just passed over a bed with a large fish on it. I put my Power Pole down and in just a few pitches with a Berkley 4″ Power Hawg on a 3/16oz Rein’s tungsten sinker, I caught the buck bass. I didn’t see the female after this so I kept moving. I returned in about 45 minutes and she was back. I picked up the same bait that caught the buck, and in just a couple of pitches, I caught the female that went about 5 1/2. I worked around this area for a few more hours and I left about 1:30 with 4 fish. There was an area nearby that I found the day my motor messed up. As I pulled in here, I saw a bed and caught my 5th fish off of it. I started fan casting a sink worm while I was looking for other beds. I caught a few more I culled with off beds. There was one real good cast I made with the sink worm that resulted in a 4 1/2. I ended the day with 15-13 and was in 9th!
Day 2: I started in the area I ended the first day in, and it was ON! I caught a keeper right away that I saw chase a shiner. After catching that fish, it spiked my curiosity. I moved over near where that fish had bit and there was a bed there. I pitched at the bed not knowing if there was a fish on it. I saw my line move off and set the hook. After a tough fight I lipped an 8! I finished my limit pretty quick after this. I found a pair and the female was about 5. This pair was rolling alot and I could not get them to settle down. I left them alone to check on later. After a couple of hours I went back to fish for this one. It took about an hour but I was able to get this fish to react to a Berkley Power Hawg with a 1/2oz Rein’s. I would pop this bait through the bed and these fish couldn’t stand it. I caught some more fish that helped some. About 1:45 I had decided that I would leave at 2:15 to leave enough time to get back. As I was working my way around I noticed a large bed with a large bass on it! I told my co-angler it looked as long as my leg. I fished for it and caught the buck first. It was no help so I put it back and kept fishing. At 2:12 I switched back to the rod with the 3/16oz. On the second pitch I felt the bump, bump. After an intense fight I lipped this fish and it weighed 10-9! My biggest ever! I then culled, strapped the rods and headed in. I had 29-11 and moved up to 5th.
Day 3: Well the weather threw a curveball today. It was a little cloudy at take off and breezy. It was very windy by 10:00 and unbearable by 1:00. I was able to catch a limit out of pads that were in my area. Most of these fish were small except one. After catching a couple of keepers, I made another pitch way back in the pads. I felt a bite and set the hook. This fish didn’t come right out like the little ones had been. It was quite a battle on got hung up one time then I got it in the boat. It is now my second biggest fish at 9-2. I ended the tournament day with 15-15, 61-7 for the event, good enough for 4th.
Added edge: There are a couple of things that really shined this week. Number one was the Rein’s Tungsten sinkers. These are all painted with a coating that doesn’t chip off. The Berkley 4″ Power Hawg was clearly the bait of choice on the big fish this week. Also you can’t fish in Florida without a Power Pole. It is such a necessary piece of equipment to have on a boat.