UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

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Boom or Bust at Toho

Boom or Bust at Toho
The newly renovated Big Toho Marina in Kissimmee Lakefront Park is a fantastic venue for kicking of the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour season.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning.

In three days of practice, the 154 pros entered have found fish bedding, fish finished with bedding, fish nowhere near ready to bed, fish that are shallow and fish that are – by central Florida standards – deep. Though second-guessing themselves and Toho in general, the contestants might heed Terry Segraves’ advice. The local pro has been confronted with such enigmatic conundrums before and doesn’t worry about such things.

“That’s Florida shallow-water fishing,” he says with a shrug. “Just go fishing and see what happens.

“There are a couple of reasons why the fishing hasn’t really been dialed in yet,” advises Segraves. “For one thing, we’re getting the first 80-degree weather we’ve had since last November. That’s warmed the water up considerably though. For another thing, the lake levels have been fluctuating between normal and about 16 inches low. So that has the fish a little mixed up. The big wave of spawners hasn’t happened yet, but it could happen this week.”

Given that shallow water with scattered grass is a good place to look for the coming flood tide of spawning bass that Segraves envisions, where is one to find them? To some extent, it depends on the boat number one draws. The early birds are likely to take advantage of their placement and head for Lake Kissimmee on the southern end of the chain, which is accessed through a small and much-hated lock, the only portal that connects Toho to the rest of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes ­– though only about a dozen boats or so can pass through at a time.

Those pros who can beat the pack to Kissimmee will at least have the opportunity to fish its best areas for a while before the thundering herd arrives. Then they can return to fish Toho and fill out the day at their leisure. Chances are it will take fish from both lakes to make a good showing. Though it might be possible to win the tournament in either big lake, that’s more to be wished for than expected.

Andy Morgan, the two-time defending Angler of the Year, says he had the worst practice he’s ever had in Florida and is likely to follow Segraves’ advice and just go fishing.

“I’ve never been to Toho and caught more than 10 fish a day, and it looks like this is going to be more of the same,” notes Morgan. “I got eight or 10 bites a day in practice, but I didn’t really pattern anything. These lakes produce good quality fish, and that’s what it’s going to take – a couple of big ones every day. With the full moon and the weather warming up, it’s going to take a 20-pound-per-day average to be in the running.”

Spencer Shuffield, a contrarian who says he had his best Florida practice ever here, thinks he might have the fish to fulfill Morgan’s prophecy. The Arkansas pro’s best practice day came Sunday when he had a few dozen bites. He rode around Monday and Tuesday to see if his baits and technique would work elsewhere. They do.

“I pulled the bait away from a bunch of fish, but I set the hook in 10, and of those, seven weighed at least 6 pounds,” notes Shuffield. “I know some guys are saying they’re struggling, but there’s a lot going on in the next few days, and I think some really big stringers are going to come in starting on day one. That might be the best day for big stringers.”

Shuffield’s contention that day one might see the heaviest limits is based on the weather forecast. Though no dramatic change is predicted, the air temperature is expected to drop by about 10 degrees Friday, and the chance of rain is increasing. It won’t help sight-fishing bed-fishermen, and some veterans who have been burned before by Florida’s fickle weather are hedging their bets.

“I’ve got two different deals going on, and I feel like I can catch a respectable amount of fish either way,” says Scott Suggs. “I caught them really, really shallow in practice, but I also found some places out deeper where I think I can catch them if they pull out some. I hope the shallow bite holds up, though. I think it’s fixing to explode. I went to one area Monday that really looked good, but it was dead. So I went back Tuesday, and they were all over the place. So, if nothing radical happens with the weather, I think we could see some really big weights ­in this tournament.”

Today’s weigh-in starts at 3 p.m. ET at Big Toho Marina.

 

Thursday’s conditions

Sunrise: 5:33 a.m.

Temperature at takeoff: 70 degrees

Expected high temperature: 83 degrees

Water temperature: low to mid-70s

Wind: SSW up to 10 mph

Day’s outlook: cloudy in the morning with 30 percent chance of early showers, followed by sunny in the afternoon

Extended forecast: 30 percent chance of rain Friday with highs in the mid-70s; partly cloudy Saturday with highs in the mid-70s; 40 percent chance of rain Sunday with highs in the upper 70s

Moon phase: full

 

Competition format

In Walmart FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round, with the winning co-angler determined by heaviest two-day cumulative weight. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and 20 non-fishing marshals to accompany them. The top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

 

For more coverage

For those who can’t catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWfishing.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWfishing.com offers real-time updates from the water. Simply click on the tournament ID within the “On the Water” banner at the top of the FLW or Walmart FLW Tour home pages.

 

Walmart FLW Tour event information

Takeoff

Location: Big Toho Marina, 69 Lakeview Drive, Kissimmee, Fla.

Time: 7:30 a.m. ET

 

Weigh-in

Thursday and Friday: Big Toho Marina, 3 p.m. ET

Saturday and Sunday: Big Toho Marina, 4 p.m. ET

 

FLW Expo

Saturday and Sunday: Big Toho Marina

12-4 p.m. ET

Tags: lake-toho  flw-tour  colin-moore  morning-story  2015-03-05-lake-toho 

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