Let me first start by saying that last year in the FLW Series was the first time in five years of trying that I got a check there. So needless to say it is not my favorite place.
When we got ready to leave we actually had some snow on the roads and it was almost cold enough in Florida to have snow. When we arrived it was in the 20s at night and 40-50s during the days. The water temperature would range from mid 40s up to the low 50s during the afternoon. When it is this cold, Florida stain bass do not bite AT ALL! For all things considered I had a decent practice. I caught 5 or 6 keepers in 2 days. I had found some canals that had a few bites so that is where I decided to start my tournament.
Day 1: Brandon Coulter and I started in the canal I had found and he caught a small keeper by the time I had gotten there. I thought it would be game on but I was very wrong. I wound up catching seven bass but no 12″ keepers. About 11 o’clock I knew I had to make a change. There was an area close that Brandon had caught a bass (yes just one) so that is where we went. At 12:30 and still no keepers, I figure my best plan now was to go to the Monkey Box and spend the rest of my day there. I had caught a two pounder in there one of the practice days so here I went. I fished and fished and fished, and finally my co angler had a bite on a senko so I began throwing one. I soon had and bite and lost my fish, but both of these bites were in the same kinds of places. The next clump of reeds same side as previous bites, bam keeper number one at 2:45. In the next five minutes another keeper. Move to the next clump another keeper, then another, then another, then another. Six keepers in about an hour and half and it was time to go in. Finished day one with 6-4 tied for 32nd place.
Day 2: I didn’t bother with canals and just went straight to the Monkey Box. I catch a small keeper early in the reeds, then lose one and the bite seems to slow. I move in around some eel grass and hydrilla mix and begin throwing a swimbait around. It doesn’t take long and a small keeper comes aboard, then a decent two pounder. This seems to end so a short move back to the reeds and I catch another small keeper. After another dry hour back to the grass and keeper number five on the swimbait. I have a little less than an hour to fish but can’t catch any better fish. Finished day two with 6-14 for 13-3 total and MAKE THE CUT IN 24TH PLACE!
Day 3: Having made the cut in the first BASS event I fished, I am pretty excited. When I get to the MB it seems that my best move would be to stay in the grass and not the reeds because I had not had any good fish out of the reeds yet. It doesn’t take long to catch a few keepers and they are a little better than the 12 1/2″s of the previous two days. With the overcast skies the swimbait bite is the way to go. I had four bass by 11:00 with only one real small one. I finish my limit and the first fish I cull with is a three pounder. This was the only fish I caught flipping all week and it was an important one. The winds change about 1:00 and the fish shut down for me. After seven or so keepers I had 10 pounds and move all the way to 13th. I am very blessed to have had such a great tournament and ready to go to Smith Lake.
Added edge: This was the first tournament that I had competed in with Citrus Stick rods. Using these rods in this tournament was without a doubt a difference maker. The sensitivity these rods have allowed me to detect bites sooner; therefore putting more of my bites in the boat. This is always important but in a tournament with this few of bites, it made the difference of not getting paid and making the cut.