Wednesday, January 31, 2018

BASSMaster Eastern Open on Lake Toho

BASSMASTER Eastern Open Season Opener On Lake Toho

For weeks now anglers have been preparing for the season opener of the Bassmaster Open Trail on Lake Toho. Even though January tournaments held on Lake Okeechobee are traditionally the first of the year, Lake Toho is what Competitors and fans look forward to.

And they all have good reason to look forward to it. Lake Toho has a proven ability to break records and be a game changer for competitors as well as fishing industry product manufacturers. While the overall tournament weight has been broken, the one day 5 bass limit is still owned by Dean Rojas and Lake Toho.

It's amazing how much that tournament dictates what the Pros competing in this tournament do during practice time. I can tell you that every day for the last week the same areas Dean Rojas caught his winning limit from are getting checked by at least 15 boats each morning. Sadly, they all leave disappointed as the once in a lifetime conditions that helped Dean win are still "once in a lifetime".

But it's not just a record breaking history that anglers are looking forward to with this tournament. There's one thing that Winter brings to Florida that everyone else gets hot under the collar about, Fat Bottom Girls! While Winter in other parts of the country mean regular reorganization of lures in the boat because of ice on the lakes or making long runs to power plant lakes just to cast a lure, we look for big girls in Florida.

In tournaments like this one it's not enough to find a quality limit with a solid kicker because that might not even make the cut. They will need to look for big fat females with lots of junk in the trunk! And the great thing about fishing on the Kissimmee Chain is this can happen on any cast.

But that doesn't mean it will be easy. The obvious question is, will competitors be able to adjust to the changing conditions and movements these bass are making to bring big bags to the scales? On shallow water lakes such as Lake Toho many elements play a role in bass behavior that can create havoc for anglers trying to figure out their movements. And this week will be a perfect example of changing conditions that will feel very similar to Dean Rojas's record breaking win.

A cold front just came through Florida that brought water temperatures down into the high 50's that will heavily impact the first day of the tournament. But the front will play more of a mind game on anglers than anything else. The past two days have seen high winds that might make many anglers question the areas they have been fishing. But tomorrow will be a competitors dream day for spawning bass.

The forecast is calling for a launch temp of 49 degrees with very little wind throughout the day. So, while the morning bite might be initially slow, the mid day bite could be on fire with bass making a massive move into spawning areas benefitting later flights. Either way, many competitors might have to leave fish that they have found on beds because they are out of time.

Does that mean the tournament will be a sight fishing slug fest? My prediction is no because water temps aren't cold enough to push the bass shallow and the water color is too stained to sight fish the deeper bedding fish.

While I have some ideas on what to expect from winning weights and what will be needed for a top 10 finish the unkown will be with winning lake. It's easy to go with Toho right now because the lake looks great. Lake Toho is probably the easiest to fish of all 4 lakes right now but the advantage will go to Pros who have a long history fishing there as the fish are not in the typical areas anglers expect. A one day tournament last weekend took 23 lbs to win that came out of Lake Toho. Expect the top 3 finisher to come out of this lake with a potential average of 25lbs per day.

Lake Kissimmee is fishing small but the areas that are producing holding some big bass. Having an early flight and making the run to Kissimmee could pay off for the first two days of the tournament but it's doubtfull to get three days out of those areas to win. Expect a top five finisher to come out of Lake Kissimmee.

Lake Cypress. Cypress is always a sleeper in these tournaments and I can personally attribute a top 3 finish in a BFL to this lake. Winds for the last few days could make the bite here tough but with light winds predicted for the tournament expect some kicker fish to come from this lake that could be the difference in a win or 6th place.

Lake Hatchineha looks the best I have seen it look in 10 years. It's doubtful the tournament will be won from this lake. The last time it happened was around 1998. My expectation is that Hatchineha will be part of a milk run that will help finish out some daily limits that contribute to a top 10 finish.
So, how many Fat Bottom Girls will we see come across the scales? There is a good chance we will see one Big Bass in the 11lb range be caught and be the big fish of the tournament.

I'm predicting a tight start to the event with a few 20lb plus bags being caught on day one but the real competition will start on day 2 as conditions get ripe for more big fish being caught. Heading into the final day look for someone to make a big leap in the standings to challenge for the overall win.

I won't make any angler predictions this year. The last time I did I picked Shaw Grigsby and he bombed and now he acts like he doesn't know me!!!!

Winning weights should hit 75lbs and top 10 finishers will need to be in the 50lb range.

Should be a fun tournament to keep up with and hopefully the Kissimmee Chain will represent as it always does!

Steve Boyd
Florida Bass Adventures

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Addressing Tournament Safety Requirements In Competition



ADDRESSING SAFETY IN COMPETITION IN TOUGH TIMES

When you grow up involved in sports as I have, risk isn’t something that gets thought about on a regular basis. But even at a very early age there were limits to what I was willing to do. Skydiving for example is something that if I have to do, I will. But it won’t be by choice!
Interestingly, competitive bass fishing causes many including myself to take risks that normally would be considered beyond safe. But because of improvements in boat manufacturing, pushing the envelope is more about putting too much trust in our equipment.
Our own recent loss made me think of Dale Earnhardt's accident and the push for better safety in NASCAR.
And while there probably isn't a best time to address this topic after the loss of life at the recent Costa Series event on Lake Okeechobee, it may be the best time to look for preventative options. Boating accidents are not uncommon during tournaments but happen often enough that safety regulations should be put in place by major organizations so that when they do happen steps are in place to save lives.
My suggestions would be to look at the difference between how ocean vessels are required to have certain safety equipment in place because well it's an ocean and help isn't always easy to come by.
We have always been behind when it comes to big picture safety in bass fishing. A life jacket is the extent of what freshwater anglers believe they need to be considered safe. Having other fishing boats near by is often what anglers rely on when any incident occurs.
Because we now have anglers leaving freshwater launch areas heading out into the ocean as well as anglers traveling hours to fishing spots, safety measures are needed more than ever before.
We cannot wait for a wake up call or the aha moment to realize more could have been done.
I encourage BASS and FLW to begin requiring EPERBS be placed in all boats that activate upon submersion or ending up upside down as well as EPERBS on lifejackets. The busiest tournament season happens during winter months when water temps are near 50 degrees which makes response to these incidents time sensitive. Safety equipment can help immensly with this.
I also would encourage both organizations to loosen rules regarding anglers having access to weather radar apps that have alerts. When I am guiding this tool is a must to keep clients safe and alive. The same should go for tournament anglers.
Lastly, I would ask that the safety briefing prior to the tournament include emphasis on anglers understanding when to call the tournament director.  If Anglers wait until they have a Loss of electrical power, propulsion or bilge pumps it's too late. It's too easy for us to think of the tournament and put the trolling motor down and keep fishing but the end result is not worth the risk.
Currently boats run with Power Poles or Talons. This means anglers no longer keep an anchor in the boat. When everything else fails a $25 anchor with the bow into the wind can be what saves a life and also should be required in every tournament boat.
As tournament anglers we have gotten very comfortable with expecting too much from our boats in bad weather because accidents rarely happen. But when they do it often results in near death experiences or loss of life.
Lets follow the lead of NASCAR  and be innovative with safety rather than waiting until it's too late. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Best Practices When Handling Bass

Following is a two part article regarding best practices when handling and releasing bass alive. Part 1 will cover initial actions when catching a bass and what can be done to help them survive the process.

Recently, the University of Florida conducted a study of how handling a bass impacts its ability to survive after being handled by anglers. The study focused solely on the grip used to hold a bass out of water immediately after being caught. The person conducting the study was not a highly knowledgeable angler or one who had any experience with catching and releasing large bass.

When the word got out that this study was going to be done I contacted Fish and Wildlife and asked why anglers like myself or other guides were not contacted for input on the study. The response I got was that the study was being controlled by University of Florida and they awarded the money to the person doing the work.

Not the best answer I could have hoped for considering this study might get some merit simply because it had a university's name on it.

The results of the study? No definitive results could be concluded from the study. Feeding times of fish handled after being caught varied slightly based on angle at which they were held but not at a consistent level to be considered scientific.

With all of that being said I like to propose a broader approach to handling a bass that starts from the moment they are caught to the moment they are released. The thought behind this approach is based on 15 years of guiding, handling numerous big bass and releasing them alive. Many that were caught on more than one occasion validating the success of how they were handled.

Some situations will make my proposal more difficult to follow. If you are fishing in a river system with strong current or a lake with lots of trees please make the best attempt to follow the following suggestions as you can.

To begin let's look at a scenario of hooking a bass and the actions that take place after it is hooked.

Once a bass is hooked it has an initial response to pull back and fight. The struggle and energy the bass expends will put a strain on it's muscles and just like humans will push lactic acid into them. The longer the fight, the more lactic acid that ends up in their muscles.

Think of when we lift weights and the effects we feel afterwards. The pain is the result of the lactic acid that is pushed into the muscles and the blood that follows trying to heal broken down cells. This pain takes some time to clear our bodies and allow us to get back into the gym.

For a bass this is one part of how they can struggle to survive being caught and surviving afterwards. Catching a bass in a tournament and releasing them alive gives us the idea that they survive but this is what isn't always known. Not all bass float to the surface and die. Some take days to die and still do not float to the surface.

The only way we can do something that helps this is to reduce the lactic acid build up. How do we do this? The best way is to slow down the rate at which we try to bring the fish in. Once a bass is hooked it only takes a second to slow down and in turn, the bass will calm down.

Many might doubt my thoughts on this but for 15 years I've done with with countless anglers and watched as they have proven my theory to work 100%. I personally have done this will small mouth and know it works on them as well.

The added benefit to doing this is your catch rate goes up significantly and lost fish rate goes down to about 1%. For tournament anglers this is money in the bank.

The photos above are of a fish we named Frankenstein. We caught and released this bass 9 times over a 3 week period. 

By Steve  Boyd
Owner - Florida Bass Adventures
Orlando Trophy Bass Fishing Guide

Monday, January 16, 2017

BASSMASTER SOUTHERN OPEN HARRIS CHAIN IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA

As I write this scouting report for the upcoming Bassmaster Southern Open on the Harris Chain of Lakes, I can't help but think of the competitors that will have probably seen more big bass on beds during prefish than they will once the tournament launches. For many it can cause quite the conundrum.

For David Dudley in 2008 there was no question of whether or not he would swing on a trophy bass on the last practice day. And during his interview he wasn't shy about letting it known that he yanked a giant off the bed. His reasoning? He probably wasn't going to get there in time to catch it anyway, so why not.

Many felt he was trying to sabotage any angler that pulled up on that fish before he could but there is more to consider. Anglers from all over the world come to Florida for the fish of a lifetime during the winter months and when tournament anglers see any of our lakes on the schedule, it's the first thought they have.

The one downside to being a competitive angler is that a high percentage have never caught a bass over 10lbs and it has nothing to do with lack of skill or lack of effort. My personal best in competition is just over 7lbs. Timing of many tournaments isn't in the favor of anglers being able to target trophy bass unless you fish on the Elite Series or FLW Tour. And during practice most will focus on locating good fish without really wanting to catch the big fish.

So, here we have anglers coming to prefish the Harris Chain hoping for perfect weather and the opportunity to catch the biggest sack of the year. What do they find? Air temperatures in the high 70's, water temps on the rise approaching 70 degrees and bass everywhere looking to make babies!
Every angler asked about pre fish will comment on how they wish the tournament will have been held a week earlier because the fishing is on fire! After the last cold front conditions were perfect for bass to move up in a large wave into shallow water as it brought water temps down to ranges they needed to spawn shallow.

And this is where the decisions that any angler who found these bass would have been faced with. Dedicate time to a big bass on a bed and go full David Dudley, risking others around seeing them or pass up the fish of a lifetime. I'm going Double D's all day! Hoping any big fish will still be there a week out isn't worth passing it up.

The trend leading up to the tournament will not favor high numbers of big bags but will see some big fish caught that will make the big bass competition something to watch. Warm weather will continue pushing fish into areas that will make them difficult to see but for those that stay shallow they will be dissappointed with culling a lot of dinks.

Another trend that will probably cause issue for those relying on site fishing will be consistent fog and cloud cover early in the mornings. Bass will be feeding early and late so patience will be testing for anglers who make the long run into Griffin as they may miss the best activity times.

High water will be another challenge for anglers as warm winter rains have raised water levels as much as 8 inches in area lakes. High water is always a challenge as it tends to put fish in areas that are hard to get to. But for anglers that adjust it could be crucial. There are many overflow type ponds that normally are not accessible but because of recent water increases will be wide open. Shaw Grigsby took advantage of this situation to win here in 2011.

Areas that are expected to produce for this tournament would be the Ocklawaha River into Lake Griffin and Haines Creek into Lake Eustis as both will have current flowing. The canals coming out of Lake Dora will get a good flow of water and bait that will push bass further back into the residential canals that always produce well this time of year.

I would also expect The Dead River canals and any residential canals on Lake Eustis to be productive. But all of these areas will get a great deal of attention so my expectation would be for the tournament to be one off areas that are closer to the launch point and are able to reload bass each day without pressure. Big And Little Lake Harris have offshore vegetation that could be key to located bass that others may not find because of shallow water beds that kept them away from areas of the lake that are in 8-10 feet.

Quite a few years ago I won a tournament on the Harris Chain off one stretch of bank working grass beds in 8 feet of water throwing crankbaits, rattletraps and Texas rigs. I lost more big fish that day than I care to remember but the situation this week is very familiar.

I haven't guided any of the competitors for this tournament but my tips would be fish deeper water areas looking for staging fish that can replenish. I would also recommend fishing close to the launch area and maximize fishing time. Even though warm weather has kept fish active I would still approach the areas with slower, more precise presentations rather than fish for aggressive bites.

Winning weight should be in the 17-19 lb a day range and to make top ten anglers will need to catch a consistent 14lbs a day. Low weights for Florida but it should be a tight competition among the top 15 with places changing daily.

Steve Boyd is a Former Marine and owner of Florida Bass Adventures Guide Service located in Orlando, Florida. For more information visit our site Florida Bass Adventures Orlando Bass Fishing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trophy Bass Fishing in Orlando

Today I had Shawn Gudauskus out for an 8 hour combo trip. The last few days have seen a lot of fog and changing wind directions or no wind at all.

Our first two spots didn't pan out very well so I did what I do best. Execute an Amphibious Assault in search of the elusive Big Fat Fatty!

Not just any fish can be a Big Fat Fatty without meeting certain requirements. First and foremost it must be a female and this is the really important part...have a lot of junk in the trunk!

And if she happens to take a big ol' dump on your carpet while taking her photo, you've got a winner!

Once the Big Fat Fatties location was determined Shawn commenced to whacking that ass and the photos below tell the rest of the story.

Big fish weighed in at 9.4lbs
Florida Bass Adventures Orlando Bass Fishing Guide

Friday, December 2, 2016

Catch And Release Orlando Bass Fishing


Catch and release during our Orlando Bass Fishing trips is great for maintaining a fisheries trophy bass population but it's also great for sharing fish! We've now caught the same fish 5 times and named it Frankenstein. That's 5 different people who have gotten to catch and experience catching this pig.

Today it was Sam and Michael fishing on Lake Toho and the first fish is my buddy! Training fish is a guides secret job!

Of course it helps that each time we catch Frankenstein I feed it two shiners! Yeah, I'm nice like that! 

http://www.floridabassadventures.com

Friday, November 18, 2016

Early November Orlando Bass Fishing Report

Our clients have been having excellent fishing trips throughout the Fall Season in Orlando with the bass feed leading up to the first wave of spawning. Late September brought the first cold fronts of the year but unlike most years, the cold weather continued into October and November. It's not cold by Northern standards but anytime morning temps stay in the low 60's in Florida it's considered chilly.

Each wave of cold fronts gradually brought water temps on Lake Toho and Orlando Lakes down allowing bass to acclimate to changing temperatures rather than shock them for a time. This has grouped up numbers of bass into areas that have large amounts of bait fish and they have not been shy about eating.

Today's trip, November 18 was with Al Weilacher And his son Brian for 4 hours of fishing on Lake Toho. Having both fished in Florida before on the St Johns River they had experience using live bait and were looking forward to a fun morning of fishing.

I was a bit more skeptical because for the last week after a strong front we had been catching high numbers of bass (20-30) on 4 hour trips, the larger fish were inconsistent.

So, for this outing we started out on what I considered my best big fish spot and went to work. What happened can only be described as one of those days as a guide you wish every client could have. With water temps in the high 60's they proceeded to catch 20 bass with their best 5 going for 29lbs. Of course one of those catches can't really be counted twice. Dad caught the second largest of the day, a 6.2 lb bass that could have weighed 8lbs but it was skinny early and then 30 minutes later his son caught the same fish. 

One unbreakable rule on my boat, I don't post photos of the same fish with multiple clients holding it. Unless, it was caught again after we released it. Then, it's just unbelievable luck that has to count!
Anyway, here are there photos from the trip with Al's 8.2 as the biggest. If you would like to see yourself on this page with a story like this, pick up the phone and book a trip! It's the only way it can happen.

Florida Bass Adventures Orlando Bass Fishing