UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris

Perfect Practice Conditions at Harris
Matt Becker

Ask Matt Becker how his practice is going for this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain, and the Pennsylvania pro has nothing to complain about. For starters, he’s in the Sunshine State, and it’s about 80 degrees. The 50-degree swing compared to what folks back home in Finleyville, Pa., are experiencing is certainly pleasant.

“Well, that’s for sure,” Becker says. “We’ve had pretty good conditions so far.”

The fishing has also been “pretty good” through a day and a half of practice. Though parts of Florida have experienced some cooler weather in recent weeks, the Leesburg area where the tournament will take place is in the midst of a warming trend. The forecast, beginning with yesterday’s opening day of practice and on through Wednesday’s off day, shows five straight days of highs in the low 80s and lows in the 60s. 

Matt Becker

Thursday, when the tournament begins, should have a similar high temperature, but afternoon thunderstorms and a north wind are expected to create a drastic change in conditions. Friday’s forecast high is only 58 degrees, and the temp is supposed to barely crack 70 the rest of the weekend. 

Crazy weather, cold fronts, Florida – they just seem to run together when FLW’s top pros head south each season, and the competitors ought to be familiar with the storyline.

For now, according to Becker, the stability has made for a fun couple of days on the water.

“The weather’s nice. The water temperature is nice. It’s all stable,” he says. “We’re looking at high 60s, low 70s for water temps. 

“I think there’s going to be a little of everything going on. There are definitely spawning fish, there are definitely postspawn fish and there’s definitely a shad spawn, which I found this morning. And I’m sure there are still some prespawn fish.”

As of about 11 a.m. ET Monday, Becker had only sampled a couple of the lakes in the Harris Chain, though he was able to at least glance at all of them during pre-practice before the system went off limits. During pre-practice, conditions weren’t ideal, with a cold front moving through. So Becker mostly went scouting to see the condition of the grass. In Harris and Eustis, a lot of it’s gone, he reports, adding that the kind of offshore grass patterns that were big players for top-10 finishers back at 2018’s FLW Tour event on the Harris Chain aren’t going to be happening. There’ll still be an offshore bite, he believes, but good weights could be caught a number of ways. Having a plan for changing conditions will be key.

“I think I’m just going to commit to a certain area,” he says. “Today’s been really good in one area, so I’m going to commit to one lake.

“Looking ahead, I don’t think the cold front will affect it [the fishing] as much as the wind. It’s supposed to blow pretty hard out of the north or northeast. If you’re fishing for shallow spawning fish, it may slow them down a little bit. But as far as the offshore stuff, or just the postpawn, shad spawn fish, I think more wind will hurt it than anything. So you have to kind of plan for that and maybe find some protected areas to get out of it.”

With a day and a half of practice left, there’s still plenty of time for pros to sort out a game plan and account for all potential scenarios. And they’ll enjoy beautiful Florida flip-flop (or barefoot, for Becker) weather while they do it. They’d just better not forget their rain gear – and their backup plans – come tournament time. 

Matt Becker

 

Tournament details

The Harris Chain Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers takes place Feb. 20-23 in Leesburg, Fla. The tournament is hosted by Lake County, Florida. Daily takeoffs are at 7 a.m. ET. Pros will start weighing in at 3 p.m. ET on days one and two and 4 p.m. ET on days three and four. Daily weigh-ins will be streamed live at FLWFishing.com. The popular FLW Live show will broadcast on days three and four from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, with commentary by hosts Travis Moran and Todd Hollowell.

Harris Chain preview

Complete tournament details

Tags: curtis-niedermier  pre-tournament  2020-02-20-harris-chain 

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