BASSMASTER Eastern Open Season Opener On Lake Toho
For weeks now anglers have been preparing for the season opener of the Bassmaster Open Trail on Lake Toho. Even though January tournaments held on Lake Okeechobee are traditionally the first of the year, Lake Toho is what Competitors and fans look forward to.
And they all have good reason to look forward to it. Lake Toho has a proven ability to break records and be a game changer for competitors as well as fishing industry product manufacturers. While the overall tournament weight has been broken, the one day 5 bass limit is still owned by Dean Rojas and Lake Toho.
It's amazing how much that tournament dictates what the Pros competing in this tournament do during practice time. I can tell you that every day for the last week the same areas Dean Rojas caught his winning limit from are getting checked by at least 15 boats each morning. Sadly, they all leave disappointed as the once in a lifetime conditions that helped Dean win are still "once in a lifetime".
But it's not just a record breaking history that anglers are looking forward to with this tournament. There's one thing that Winter brings to Florida that everyone else gets hot under the collar about, Fat Bottom Girls! While Winter in other parts of the country mean regular reorganization of lures in the boat because of ice on the lakes or making long runs to power plant lakes just to cast a lure, we look for big girls in Florida.
In tournaments like this one it's not enough to find a quality limit with a solid kicker because that might not even make the cut. They will need to look for big fat females with lots of junk in the trunk! And the great thing about fishing on the Kissimmee Chain is this can happen on any cast.
But that doesn't mean it will be easy. The obvious question is, will competitors be able to adjust to the changing conditions and movements these bass are making to bring big bags to the scales? On shallow water lakes such as Lake Toho many elements play a role in bass behavior that can create havoc for anglers trying to figure out their movements. And this week will be a perfect example of changing conditions that will feel very similar to Dean Rojas's record breaking win.
A cold front just came through Florida that brought water temperatures down into the high 50's that will heavily impact the first day of the tournament. But the front will play more of a mind game on anglers than anything else. The past two days have seen high winds that might make many anglers question the areas they have been fishing. But tomorrow will be a competitors dream day for spawning bass.
The forecast is calling for a launch temp of 49 degrees with very little wind throughout the day. So, while the morning bite might be initially slow, the mid day bite could be on fire with bass making a massive move into spawning areas benefitting later flights. Either way, many competitors might have to leave fish that they have found on beds because they are out of time.
Does that mean the tournament will be a sight fishing slug fest? My prediction is no because water temps aren't cold enough to push the bass shallow and the water color is too stained to sight fish the deeper bedding fish.
While I have some ideas on what to expect from winning weights and what will be needed for a top 10 finish the unkown will be with winning lake. It's easy to go with Toho right now because the lake looks great. Lake Toho is probably the easiest to fish of all 4 lakes right now but the advantage will go to Pros who have a long history fishing there as the fish are not in the typical areas anglers expect. A one day tournament last weekend took 23 lbs to win that came out of Lake Toho. Expect the top 3 finisher to come out of this lake with a potential average of 25lbs per day.
Lake Kissimmee is fishing small but the areas that are producing holding some big bass. Having an early flight and making the run to Kissimmee could pay off for the first two days of the tournament but it's doubtfull to get three days out of those areas to win. Expect a top five finisher to come out of Lake Kissimmee.
Lake Cypress. Cypress is always a sleeper in these tournaments and I can personally attribute a top 3 finish in a BFL to this lake. Winds for the last few days could make the bite here tough but with light winds predicted for the tournament expect some kicker fish to come from this lake that could be the difference in a win or 6th place.
Lake Hatchineha looks the best I have seen it look in 10 years. It's doubtful the tournament will be won from this lake. The last time it happened was around 1998. My expectation is that Hatchineha will be part of a milk run that will help finish out some daily limits that contribute to a top 10 finish.
So, how many Fat Bottom Girls will we see come across the scales? There is a good chance we will see one Big Bass in the 11lb range be caught and be the big fish of the tournament.
I'm predicting a tight start to the event with a few 20lb plus bags being caught on day one but the real competition will start on day 2 as conditions get ripe for more big fish being caught. Heading into the final day look for someone to make a big leap in the standings to challenge for the overall win.
I won't make any angler predictions this year. The last time I did I picked Shaw Grigsby and he bombed and now he acts like he doesn't know me!!!!
Winning weights should hit 75lbs and top 10 finishers will need to be in the 50lb range.
Should be a fun tournament to keep up with and hopefully the Kissimmee Chain will represent as it always does!
Florida Bass Adventures