UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Harris Chain Preview

2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit

Harris Chain

Leesburg, Fla.

Feb. 20-23, 2020

Hosted by Lake County, Florida  

 

About the fishery

One of the most fun places FLW visits, the Harris Chain is a collection of lakes in central Florida that includes Lake Harris, Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. In all, the pros have the run of 10 lakes, plus the myriad residential canals, rivers and backwaters that spread out off of them.

The Harris Chain isn’t quite the typical Florida fishery like Kissimmee or Okeechobee. The water is generally dirtier, and there are a lot more canals and the like leading off the lakes. However, like the Kissimmee Chain, there can be significant travel times associated with longer runs, mostly because many of the canals between the lakes are no-wake.  

 

Chris Johnston

Last time

Last hit by the top pros in 2018, that tournament started as a bed-fishing derby and turned into a wide-open offshore grass showdown. Chris Johnston topped the field with 79 pounds, and Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson was right behind him with 77 pounds. Both were focusing on offshore hydrilla with a vibrating jig. Johnston also made hay with a jerkbait and a lipless on one edge of grass in the mornings where a shad spawn was taking place.

 

Tim Frederick

What to expect this time

As is often the case with grass-focused fisheries in Florida, things are going to be different from year to year. This year, due to spraying, higher water and some natural dieback, the lakes generally have much less offshore hydrilla than they have had the last two times FLW has been there.

“There is some left in Griffin, and random grass left in some of the other lakes,” says Tim Frederick. “It’s going to be a completely different tournament. If the fish go back to their old haunts – pre-grass – I’ll be fine, so that’s what I’m hoping for. But there’s no guarantee.”

Frederick says that because there’s so much less offshore hydrilla, some of the other types of cover could play more than in years past. For instance, there’s a good deal of Kissimmee grass in the lakes, as well as eelgrass around the rims. And, with dirtier water because of the lack of grass, fish will likely push into the canals and the shallows more than usual to spawn.

 

Jared McMillan

Baits and techniques

If a true offshore winding bite isn’t there, some winding baits will still make an impact, but flipping and pitching should do a ton of the work. Lipless baits and the like on the outside of the eelgrass should play as well. Plus, there ought to be spawning fish to catch.

Of course, you might not want to entirely discount the offshore deal. It’s a proven tactic on the Harris Chain, and we’ve seen it be successful even where there’s no grass. For instance, Matt Reed slung a Carolina rig in 2017 for a top 10 on Eustis, and he was barely fishing any grass. Additionally, the lure of finding a magic bit of leftover or freshly growing hydrilla is going to be strong. A lot of anglers will put in a lot of time idling to look for that honey hole.

 

3 critical factors

1. The weather – Never far from mind in Florida, the weather leading up to and during the event will be very important. If a cold front hits right on the tournament, the fishing will be tough, but some cold weather before the event might actually be good. So far, winter has been warm in Florida, so the fish are scattered and haven’t set up in the prespawn groups that usually form spawning “waves.” A little cold spell in advance might help those groups form up.  

2. New hydrilla – According to Frederick, one of the scariest possibilities for the other competitors is one angler finding some new grass. If someone finds that perfect spot, he could be on the motherlode.

3. Having something to yourself – Florida seems to mean fishing in a crowd, but Frederick thinks having something to yourself could go a long way this time around. We’ve seen plenty of success come from long runs to Apopka or Griffin in the past, and the ability for someone to ration fish without the impact of others is certainly intriguing.

 

Bradley Dortch

Pros to watch

This year there are a ton of pros on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit who have experience in Florida, both in general and specifically on the Harris Chain. Frederick is perhaps chief among them, but Darrell Davis, the McMillan brothers, John Cox and Tyler Woolcott are all interesting bets.

Additionally, Bradley Dortch has won there in the past, and he’d be one to watch to do it again.

Finally, depending on the stage of the fish, some expert sight-fishing anglers have a chance to do very well, so folks like Ron Nelson and Jamie Horton have to be on the radar.

Tags: jody-white  jody-white-  pre-tournament  2020-02-20-harris-chain 

Previewing Dale Hollow

Previewing Dale Hollow

When the Toyota Series Central Division wraps up its season on Dale Hollow Lake next week – a lake known for its smallmouth fishing, thanks in big part for producing the world record smallmouth back in 1955 – its anglers probably won’t be weighing in masses of brown fish. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

Top 10 Baits from Sam Rayburn

The top finishers in the recent Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn caught the lake when the shallow bite was just picking up. Sticking shallow around hydrilla with a wake bait, Aaron Johnson stayed consistent and won the event. Behind Johnson, there was a lot of room for pros to fish to their strengths, though there’s no doubt that shallow eventually won out. READ MORE »

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Templeton Tops Co-Anglers

Weighing five fish for 12 pounds, 4 ounces, co-angler Anthony Templeton of Beckville, Texas, rocketed up from fifth place to win the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. With a total of 28-3, Templeton takes home a new Phoenix bass boat worth $33,500 and his first winner’s trophy with FLW. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 3

Our crew on the water hasn’t had very good luck tracking the top pros down in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, but the fishing has still been pretty good. With the entire top 10 within striking distance, it’s still anyone’s game, and the good fishing today could help someone run into a mega-bag. READ MORE »

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Johnson Wins on Sam Rayburn

Going into the final day, Blake Schroeder was just 3 ounces ahead of Aaron Johnson in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Tight to the end, both anglers brought more than 18 pounds to the scale, but Johnson’s 18-14 bag boosted his total to 54-14 and earned him the win. For the victory, Johnson takes home $31,751 and the second FLW win of his career. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition, it’s looking like the shallow grass bite is the deal in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn. Leading the way, Blake Schroeder had tallied a pair of 18-pound bags from shallow grass, and the pros behind him aren’t slacking on the grass game either. Heading into the final day, it’s going to be a true shootout for the win, with a Texas-sized kicker a bite away for everyone in the field. READ MORE »

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Schroeder Slides Ahead on Rayburn

Climbing from fourth to first, Blake Schroeder took over the lead in the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn with his second-consecutive 18-pound bag. Weighing 18-3 on day one, the Texas pro put an even 18 pounds on the scale on day two for a 36-3 total. Behind him, the weights are stacked, and five other pros are within 5 pounds going into the final day on the big Texas lake. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn has been exactly as forecast. Somewhat chilly, with scattered rain and wind in the morning, it’s starting to brighten up now. Though most fished with jackets and bibs on in the morning, it’s now very comfortable and the sun is out pretty steadily. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn offered pretty good fishing and a lot of options. Anglers in the top 10 fished deep, shallow and in between to catch their fish, and no one pattern dominated the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Moore Sacks 21 on Rayburn

Taking the lead on day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event on Sam Rayburn, Cole Moore weighed an even 21 pounds to kick things off. Though the fishing was not really up to the massive heights it can reach on Rayburn, it was far from bad, and plenty of pros put together limits in the teens both shallow and deep. READ MORE »

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Sam Rayburn Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division event has been beautiful so far, with mild weather and apparently decent fishing. Though Rayburn isn’t kicking them out like it can, there seem to be plenty of ways to catch fish and at least one pro has seen some success. READ MORE »

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Fall Showdown Starts at Rayburn

Takeoff for day one of the Toyota Series Southwestern Division finale on Sam Rayburn was about as perfect as it gets. Light wind paired with crisp, comfortable temperatures and plenty of sun provided an auspicious beginning to the Toyota Series event on the sprawling Texas reservoir. READ MORE »

Southwestern Division Wraps on Rayburn

Southwestern Division Wraps on Rayburn

The Toyota Series Southwestern Division will wrap up its season this week at Sam Rayburn. Hosted by the Jasper-Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

How to Catch Bass with Shrimp

Bradley Dortch, who grew up on the Tensaw River and the Mobile Delta, says throwing shrimp for bass is a winner, and a viable tournament technique if you use plastic ones. It all has to do with the seasonal movement of the forage. READ MORE »

Plains Division Heads to the Ozarks

Plains Division Heads to the Ozarks

The 2020 Toyota Series Plains Division will continue with a tournament this weekend in Osage Beach, Missouri, with the Toyota Series at Lake of the Ozarks. Hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

Top 10 Baits from Lake Norman

The Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman was a fall grinder. With the lake in fall transition and turnover occurring throughout the lake, some of the popular lure choices included shaky heads, jigs, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. Here is a closer look at the best baits of the top 10 pros. READ MORE »

Eastern Finale Set for Norman  

Eastern Finale Set for Norman  

The Toyota Series Eastern Division will wrap up its season this week at Lake Norman. Hosted by Visit Lake Norman, Charlotte & Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

From the Mississippi River to the Peshtigo River, Wisconsin and the surrounding region has miles of flowing water chock full of smallmouth bass. In the recent Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, Matt Stefan targeted rivers flowing into Green Bay for the majority of his catch, and in doing so, he was able to tap into a skillset that he’s groomed for years on the Wisconsin River and other flowages near him. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Taking the co-angler win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, Tony Grubb weighed four bass for 14 pounds, 1 ounce on the final day for a 46-5 total. For the win, his second as a co-angler with FLW, Grubb takes home a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat worth over $35,000. READ MORE »