UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Dale Hollow Lake

Previewing the St. Johns River

Previewing the St. Johns River
Kyle Walters

With the addition of new divisions on the 2020 Toyota Series schedule, Florida anglers (and anyone else hoping for a full schedule of Florida fisheries) get a trio of Sunshine State staples on the docket this year, starting with the St. Johns River on February 13.

The St. Johns has been fishing tough the last couple months, but mid-February is typically when bass move up to spawn in the river system that includes three main basins (upper, middle and lower) as well as Lake George, which very well could come into play in a big way come tournament time.

 

Tournament details

Toyota Series Southern Division

St. Johns River

Palatka, Fla.

Feb. 13, 2020

Hosted by the Putnam County Tourist Development Council

 

How the fishery sets up

The St. Johns River is a sprawling 310-mile-long river system with relatively low flow, with an average flow rate of .3 miles per hour. There’s current to be found, but for the most part, the St. Johns doesn’t fish like many river systems elsewhere in the country. Additionally, it’s one of the few river systems in the U.S. that flows north.

Made up of a few drainage basins and the Lake George and Ocklawaha River watersheds, it’s possible for anglers to make long runs to get away from competitors and find fish – and there are good fish to be found. Look no further than the 31-pound, 7-ounce bag Rick Clunn hauled in there on day three of the Bassmaster Elite Series event in 2016. 

The St. Johns isn’t as grassy as its more southern Florida counterparts, and when the fishery’s giant largemouths decide to spawn, there’s a bevy of tactics in play that we probably wouldn’t otherwise see on Okeechobee or the Harris Chain of Lakes.

 

What to expect

According to Toyota Series pro Kyle Walters, who hails from Grant Valkaria, Fla., and finished second at the 2019 FLW Cup, mid-February is when the St. Johns really starts getting good for local anglers.

“The middle to end of February – right around the time we’re getting there – should be real good,” he says. “We’ve got a full moon on the 7th, we’ve got some warming weather, and if they’re not spawning, they’re going to want to soon.”

Unlike some of the other well-known fisheries in Florida – particularly in the southern part of the state – largemouth don’t typically spawn throughout the winter months. On Okeechobee, for instance, it’s not uncommon for fish to start spawning in the late fall all the way through spring. Not so on the St. Johns.

“The St. Johns is a little farther north to where they won’t really do that, where it’s not one of those string-spawns like say Okeechobee or anything south of Highway 60,” Walters explains. “They’ll spawn more frequently down there, but when you go up further – they’ll still string spawn – but there will be a major time when they come to the bank and spawn on the St. Johns.”

Walters expects Lake George to play a big role in this tournament if that’s the case. At the very least, there figures to be a lot of fish in the prespawn phase, moving up shallow to prepare to spawn.

As for weights, Walters thinks it should take about 33 pounds over two days to make the top 10 cut and 63 pounds over three days for the win.

 

Baits and techniques

Flipping, frogging, worms, swim jigs and vibrating jigs always play in Florida, especially in grassy fisheries, but Walters keys in specifically on two not-so-Florida techniques that can be major players around the spawn on the St. Johns.

“If you can find fish that are prespawn, you can catch them on a crankbait and Carolina rig and baits like that in 12 to 16 foot of water, which doesn’t normally play on Okeechobee or Toho or Kissimmee or Harris, which are big grass lakes,” says Walters. “It’s almost like a river system, and when they do go to spawn, they come to the banks, and that’s why they catch them so good.”

Fishing has been tough recently – only five anglers weighed in more than 15 pounds in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Gator Division opener earlier this month – but it did take 26 pounds to win that event. If the weather continues trending upward and fish decide to move up soon, 20-pound bags are going to be a lot more common in this derby. 

Tags: flw  toyota-series  st-johns-river  justin-onslow  article  2020-02-13-st-john-s-river 

Au Best in the West

Au Best in the West

While 2020 has been a year to forget for many people, Tai Au will cherish it forever. Though Au has dabbled in Toyota Series competition over the span of nearly a decade, this was the first year he went all-in to fish the entire division. In doing so, he won the season opener on Lake Havasu, banked a top 10 on the California Delta and closed it out with another win on Clear Lake to handily win the Western Division Strike King Angler of the Year title. READ MORE »

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 »

2021 BFL Schedule

2021 BFL Schedule

Major League Fishing announced today the schedule, rules, payouts and entry dates for the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine, offering weekend anglers the best payouts and advancement opportunities for the lowest entry fees available. READ MORE »

Three Generations of Chapmans Take on Lake of the Ozarks

Three Generations of Chapmans Take on Lake of the Ozarks

Three generations of the Chapman family competed on Lake of the Ozarks – Brent, his son Mason, and his father Ron. Although they’ve all fished professional tournaments before, it was the first time all three were competing in the same event. Brent fished as a pro, while Mason and Ron fished in the co-angler field. 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 »

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 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 »

Lake of the Ozarks Tapped for Wild Card

Lake of the Ozarks Tapped for Wild Card

FLW announced Sunday that the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Wild Card tournament will take place on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri, Nov. 20-21. The two-day event, hosted by Fish-Intel, will launch from Public Beach No. 2 in Osage Beach. 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 »

Toyota Series to Host Event on Lake of the Ozarks

Toyota Series to Host Event on Lake of the Ozarks

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – 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... READ MORE »

Eastanollee’s Morrow Wins Toyota Series Event on Lake Norman

Eastanollee’s Morrow Wins Toyota Series Event on Lake Norman

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 3, 2020) – Pro Troy Morrow of Eastanollee, Georgia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 9 pounds, 7 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series at Lake Norman event in Huntersville, North Carolina. Morrow’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 32-3 earned him the win by a 4.... READ MORE »

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Norman Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Bass seemed to be a bit more cooperative on day two of the Toyota Series Eastern Division event on Lake Norman, especially in the largemouth department. READ MORE »

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Norman Midday Update – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series on Lake Norman dawned bright and sunny this morning with a morning low of about 52 degrees. A light breeze had the schooling fish popping early and anglers were taking advantage of the fall feed. A lot of topwaters, swimbaits, jerkbaits and spy baits were being offered to the schoolers on main lake points. READ MORE »

Major League Fishing and FLW Unify as One Brand

Major League Fishing and FLW Unify as One Brand

TULSA, Okla. – To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF... READ MORE »

Simpson University Earns Win at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Clear Lake

Simpson University Earns Win at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Clear Lake

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The Simpson University team of Luke Blanchard of Vancouver, Washington, and Nathan Phillips of Kelseyville, California, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Clear Lake event Saturday with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces. The victory advanced... READ MORE »

Lake County High School Fishing Club Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open

Lake County High School Fishing Club Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – The Lake County High School duo of Payton Lyndall and Tyler Brant brought five bass to the scale Sunday weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces to win the FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Clear Lake Open in Clearlake, California... READ MORE »

Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open

Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School Wins High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open

EDGEWOOD, Md. – Pennsylvania’s Mifflinburg High School duo of Ty Stroup and Daniel Walter grinded out three fish Saturday weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces to win a very tough FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing Chesapeake Bay Open event in Edgewood, Maryland. The event was... READ MORE »

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

MLF and FLW Unify as One Brand

To further elevate the sport of tournament bass fishing and align multiple circuits as one company, Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today its unification with Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) as one brand, transitioning all FLW brand assets to MLF.   READ MORE »

Adrian College Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Chesapeake Bay

Adrian College Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Tournament on Chesapeake Bay

EDGEWOOD, Md. – The Adrian College team of Grant Gallagher of Fremont, Ohio, and Ben Statly of Fenton, Michigan, won the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at the Chesapeake Bay event Friday with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 2 ounces. The victory earned the Adrian bass club... READ MORE »

Arizona’s Au Wins Toyota Series Western Division Finale at Clear Lake

Arizona’s Au Wins Toyota Series Western Division Finale at Clear Lake

CLEARLAKE, Calif. – Pro Tai Au of Glendale, Arizona, crossed the stage with a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 26 pounds, 4 ounces, to vault to the top of the leaderboard and win the three-day Toyota Series at Clear Lake tournament in Clearlake, California. Au’s three-day total of 15... READ MORE »