UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Lake Champlain

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida.

With a great start to the year, and being on a lake system he knows, it seems like the perfect time to jump in the boat with the Hixson, Tenn., pro and see how he handles the second day of practice for the second Tour event of the year, Toho, presented by Ranger Boats.

 

We meet at a ramp in the east side of Toho around 7:15 a.m. Burghoff has been a little under the weather for the last few days, so there wasn’t a huge rush to get on the water – not that he isn’t focused on the event, but good rest is important to feeling better come derby time.

After taking the transom saver off and getting the boat unstrapped, it’s time to splash the rig in the water.

 

It’s a little after 7:30 once Burghoff idles out of the canal. It’s a cool, wet morning with the temperature hanging around the upper 50s to low 60s, and while the common theory is that a lot of bass will want to push up and spawn during the tournament, this isn’t helping.

So, the plan is for Burghoff to spend at least half his day in Toho, checking some offshore grass and shallow stuff before possibly venturing down to Kissimmee in the afternoon.

 

After a quick run, Burghoff sets down alongside a gorgeous-looking hydrilla line. He takes time to pluck a few rods from the locker, one equipped with a Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer and the other a light Texas rig. His bait of choice on the Texas rig is a Z-Man Mag Fattyz worm.

“Wow, it’s been years since I’ve seen grass this good on this end of the lake,” says Burghoff. “I kind of have a mental block wanting to fish the outside grass because I know the fish are going to move up shallow, but I got to check it out a little bit.”

 

He slings the ChatterBait around for a while before he hooks into something. As he reels it in, Burghoff realizes he’s snatched several feet of fishing line. After pulling it up some more, he finds a small hard-bodied swimbait attached to the end of the line, along with some hydrilla. Not exactly the first bite he was looking for, but a free lure is a free lure.

 

With nothing exiting going on offshore, Burghoff heads to a shallow stretch he’s fished in the past. The goal now is to get a few fish to show themselves – and they’ll likely be small males – so that during the event Burghoff can come back and check the areas to see if any females have moved up.

While he preps to fish, Burghoff pulls out a Ziploc bag of Z-Man worms, which includes a new prototype swimming worm. It looks like a perfect selection to cover the mix of lily pads and Kissimmee grass that await him.

 

Burghoff kicks the trolling motor on high and slings the worm around for a few hundred yards with one possible wake of a bass. Not feeling it, he digs out a flipping stick and moves out towards the lake a bit to flip some thicker pads and mats.

 

The cover looks fantastic, but Burghoff isn’t as sold on it once he begins to fish. It doesn’t set up to his liking, and after a few minutes of flipping, it’s time to roll.

 

He cranks up the engine and starts heading north on the lake. Burghoff has years of history he drives by with each stretch of grass he passes, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

“The thing I have to do this week is re-train myself to fish this system,” Burghoff admits. “It’s a lot different than when I lived down here, and I need to practice it like a lake I’ve never been to. It’s tough, because I know areas that I’ve done well in before, but I need to keep trying new areas. Sure, I’ll still check places that are good in general, but I don’t want to get sucked in to just focusing on history.”

 

His next stop is at another shallow spot where bass are likely to spawn. He picks up the prototype worm and slings it around the pads, moving at a decent rate of speed.

He gets a fish to wake on the worm and immediately pauses the bait. Instantly, Burghoff sets the hook on his first fish of the day. It’s too small to be a keeper, but a sign of life is a good thing. Fish in Florida are notorious for grouping up in small areas, so this could be the tip of the iceberg.

Burghoff chuckles at the fact that the bass is basically the same size as the worm. You’ve got to hand it to that bass for its enthusiasm.

After another 100 yards or so with no bites, he’s off and running again.

 

Burghoff rips just around the corner to some more shallow cover. He seems dead-set on dialing in where the males are stacked, and it’s a good call with warming weather on the horizon and water temperatures creeping up to the upper 60s. A wave of fish pushing up to spawn is highly likely on days one and two of the tournament.

A few light Texas rigs and some flipping baits are all that line the deck at the moment. Burghoff is a believer in not overcomplicating things in Florida, and his deck reflects that.

Twenty minutes go by with no bites or signs of bass, so Burghoff stops to pull out another rod in order to make a change to his plans. He wants to head back offshore to the hydrilla just to see if there are more bass staged out there than up shallow.

The only bait he adds to the arsenal is a lipless crankbait. His labeling of his boxes is a fun, simple way to do it.

 

Another quick run has Burghoff back out in some juicy looking hydrilla. He picks up the Fattyz and starts to sling it around.

Just a few moments pass before he leans back on one. Again, no giant, but a good sign that there are fish around.

 

A few casts later and he’s hooked up again. It’s another one cut from the same mold as the last, but at least he’s in an area with fish now.

Burghoff continues down the grass edge, fan-casting the worm around to clumps of hydrilla scattered about.

“There’s just so much grass it’s almost hard to fish all of it,” he explains. “If I got a few more bites I’d think about slowing down in an area like this during the tournament, but I wouldn’t want to do that unless I had a good limit already, because you can burn a lot of time out here.”

 

It’s creeping closer to noon and Burghoff pulls the trolling motor and starts to idle a little, checking his Lowrance for where more isolated clumps of grass sit. It’s a short-lived endeavor as he decides it’s time to drop me back off at the ramp so he can move on to phase two of the day.

 

We make it back to the dock and he drops me off. Burghoff isn’t ready to completely write off Toho yet, but this afternoon he’s likely going to lock to Kissimmee and explore there a little more.

“The thing about the Kissimmee chain is that it cycles what lake is better,” Burghoff says. “I was a big Toho fan for a while, and then there was a stretch where I’d only fish Kissimmee. Last year I had my worse finish on the chain (in a B.A.S.S. Open) because I was so stuck on Cypress, but that lake wasn’t fishing good. So, I want to sample as much of it as I can.”

As Burghoff idles back out to finish his second day of practice, he knows he’s got his work cut out for him if he wants to stay the pace he set at Rayburn.

He knows he’s not on the winning bag yet, but he’s beginning to get a feel for what the fishery is offering this week.

Good luck, Miles.

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2019-02-07-lake-toho 

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