Monday, January 25, 2016

Lake Toho Bassmaster Southern Open

We are just a day away from the first tournament of the 2016 Bassmaster Southern Open that will be held on Lake Toho. The timing of this event will fall in what would normally be considered the best of times because it will be during the full moon phase. But I am predicting that the anglers competing will be in for some challenging fishing simply because of the weather that they will have during the tournament.

The bass on the Kissimmee Chain have been spawning for a couple of months in very small waves waiting for the right conditions for a major move up. The conditions leading up to the Lake Toho tournament are favoring a good spawn but there is a cold front coming that will hit competitors on day 1.
So, while some anglers will find bedding bass for this tournament I am going to go out on a limb and predict that this tournament will be won off of bass that aren’t on the beds. Bass will be up shallow but conditions may keep them from feeding for the first day or so of the tournament. Frogs, swimbaits, speedworms, chatterbaits, flukes are potential lures to catch bass but Senkos, Texas Rigged worms and flipping in grass will be what wins the tournament.  Because of the changing conditions competitors could find themselves using all of these lures throughout the course of the day.

Tournaments on the Kissimmee Chain always bring expectations of high weights and this one will could do the same but expect the final day weights to be the highest. The weather patterns as they have for some time will again play a major role in the outcome of this tournament. A recent cold front will keep water temps stable but anglers will be fishing towards the end of a full moon phase and peak fishing times will not favor all flights launching. Early flights will benefit from moon position and later flights could benefit from late day warming trends.

Will bass be caught site fishing? Anything is possible on the Kissimmee chain. Our bass tend to do the unexpected even on the days when it seems nothing is possible. They will be here during a full moon phase so I expect bass to be spawning but wind, clouds and low water visibility will make relying on site fish for a win difficult.

In the betting age of DraftKings and Fanduel this would be an excellent tournament to place your money on techniques to win the tournament like Ripping Rattle Traps in Hydrilla, fishing topwater frogs or throwing a chatterbait. The odds are against these techniques but the conditions say it’s possible.

While Toho was where many of last year’s top finishers came from this year I expect other lakes in the chain to come into play. Lake Cypress and Hatchineha are gateways between Toho and Kissimmee but any anglers who choose to stop and fish these lakes could end up in the top 10. Water levels on Lake Kissimmee should favor shallow water fishing and Tiger Lake is always worth the extra drive.

Last year I was really hyping big weights on the first day but don’t expect a repeat this year. I do expect some solid 25lb bags but not many and not many anglers will have back to back big bags. I would place the winning weight over the tournament to average 17lbs and needing to have 12lbs a day to be in the top 10. Yes, I’m predicting a close call slugfest to the end.

Presentations to look for from high placing anglers will be hard jerkbaits, texas rigged worms, Carolina rigged worms, senkos and weightless Texas rigged worms. Flipping to heavy cover will be what wins it. Expect the weeks big bass to come from a Co Angler.

The winning weight should average 17lbs per day and the top 10 will need to average at least 12lbs per day. This is a very tight top 10 finish and coming into the final day no one will feel confident on walking away with a win. There will be many local anglers along with some of the best Elite anglers competing for a good start to the season.