Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2020 Bassmaster Eastern Open Lake Toho

For the last week leading up to the first tournament of the season, its officially been upside down day for 7 days. Outside of Florida the entire country is experiencing winter weather with reports from clients in Wisconsin that they have up to an inch and a half of ice. On everything. Meanwhile, in Central Florida where anglers will launch from downtown Kissimmee Lakefront Park with a full field expecting to fish in conditions that usually would be windy, cold, rainy, they will enjoy lows of 61 degrees to start and and blustery high of 82. Weather that fits more along with November or March.

South winds out of Miami will continue to impact the temperatures and ultimately destroy any anglers hopes of fishing shallower than 4 feet in search of bedding bass or doing what Florida is famous for, catching big bass in the grass. The conditions will make for a challenging event that will possibly highlight some of the competitors that have traveled from Northern lakes where open water is more of their comfort zone.

The upside of having a tournament on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is that there are no shortage of big bass and there will be a good number of Pros who find them and make the event as exciting as it always is when Bassmaster comes to town.

So, what are the bass doing and how will they probably be caught?

For the last 2 months bass have been residing in 4-5 feet of water along with the forage they have been feeding on. During the last full moon they were gorging as they went into a full blown spawn with water temperatures dropping to 62 degrees. The coldest we have seen this winter. But it was a quick wave of spawners that only lasted a day which worked out great for my client pictured, Kent took advantage of by landing this massive 10 lb 2 oz Toho trophy.

That quick burst of spawning activity was followed by a rise in water temperatures that have the lakes running at 71 degrees at the time of this writing. Fog and cloud cover have helped to hold temperatures down but the fog may play into the tournament with a delayed launch. The good news is that if you can find the bass in an area they are feeding in, there will be a wad of them that can hold up for the entire three day tournament as the weather looks to be holding steady rather than turning drastically like it can in Florida.

This might be the most I've ever written about the weather but it will be a large factor for this tournament. But enough about that.

Lake conditions are great with water quality above average on all lakes. Hydrilla was sprayed again in October but only Cypress and Lake Kissimmee show the results from that. Lake Toho, which always factors into a win for this tournament has submerged vegetation all over the lake. Don't be surprised to see some big bags come from 6-8 feet of water. The bass are there but to be successful, more wind will be needed to trigger them to feed.

In a recent tournament on Lake Toho, it was won using a Carolina Rig in open water hydrilla for a 26lb bag. It was much colder during that tournament but I expect this technique to still play heavily in who is able to crack the top ten.

In another first, I'm going to predict a hard jerkbait could also be a key bait for a high finish on Toho based on where the bass are positioned and how they are feeding. Shiners are the key bait right now and few baits mimick them well. A hard jerkbait is on that tackles that job well. The variety of baits can range from a floating Rapala, a Bagley Bango Lure, Yo Zuri 3DB to include a personal favorite, A Bomber Long A.

Another bait that not many talk about outside of Kentucky and Florida is the 10 inch worm. With light winds expected throughout the tournament, a Zoom Old Monster could take us back to its glory days of dominating tournaments with the most fundamental lure ever made. This particular presentation will require a great deal of confidence from whomever throws it as it will provide quality bites but not a high number. Missed fish could be a factor talked about a lot during the weigh in.

Chatterbaits, Swim jigs and Spinnerbaits are usually good options this time of year in Florida but I don't expect them to factor in unless winds get above 10 mph this week.

Time for my usual weight predictions for this tournament. Honestly, I don't want to venture into throwing numbers out there because fishing based on the last week have been challenging unless using shiners. That's not unusual for this time of year but the temps and winds should mean lure fishing is on fire as well. That hasn't been the case.

But I've never been shy about sticking my neck out so no reason to stop now!

Average weights for the the top 10 should range from 27lbs as the high and 16lbs at the low. The field will be stacked tight in weights between 13 and 16lbs. The Pro that leads day one will struggle to repeat the same number over 3 days. Launch times will be huge with bass feeding early and becoming less active after 10 am. Pros making the run to Kissimmee or other lakes may end up back in Toho early to try and salvage a limit. Total winning weight should be around 56 lbs. To be in top ten, 36 lbs might get someone there.

Its all going to be a huge gamble with one angler hitting the jackpot for the 1st place prize that they all are chasing. I'll be on the water hoping for lots of big bags and great results.

By Steve Boyd
Owner - Florida Bass Adventures

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Evolution of Competitive Bass Fishing

In all things one fact cannot be debated, evolution requires change. Some changes happen organically, some out of ones control while others need to be forced. But no matter what, change is inevitable.

Recently, competitive bass fishing has seen a change with a large contingent of anglers leaving BASS to compete in the newly formed MLF Fishing League. Many were invited and its unknown how many turned down the opportunity.

Which is the curious question, how many saw it as an opportunity that benefited the sport or did the question revolve around how it benefited themselves? I can't fault them for asking the latter as BASS has taken much more than they give back to the "Talent" that keeps them in business.

In a recent article for BASS, Gene Gilliland wrote an article positing the question of whether Catch, Weigh, Release tournaments would be the end of traditional 5 fish limit weigh in tournaments. His article focused heavily on the merits of the traditional format while understandably ignoring those that CWR could offer. Why is it understandable? Gene works for BASS and his job wasn't to be objective.

His job was the same as any who are trying to minimize evolutionary changes that they believe could one day threaten their existence. Had he been confident in the strength of traditional tournaments he would have wrote an article touting the upside to the new format and the many benefits it could offer.

Before I go any further I do want to point out that in tournament fishing there are many different levels, all being different in various ways to each other while all having one thing in common in that they are all catching bass. It's the anglers, organizers, directors, rules that make each somewhat different from each other.

While I can see how CWR tournaments for local, jackpot, small boat, local federation competitions would directly benefit the bass populations and drastically reduce mortality rates I am not writing this opinion so that it is something to be pushed on those groups. The evolution for them needs to be one that happens organically and with help from larger tournament organizers like MLF, BASS and FLW because it would be a big change.

One aspects of Gene's article was that the traditional tournaments will survive due to the excitement of a weigh in at the end of the tournament. Because most local tournaments outside of BFL or BASS Weekend series are tournaments of 45 boats or less, this isn't an argument that relates to them. It's not a jab meant to cast aspersions on small tournaments, just a fact that there aren't crowds standing around waiting to see what they bring in.

This goes directly to the point of evolution in the sport. The one thing that BASS clings to when it comes to traditional tournaments are the people who come to the weigh ins.

Now that FLW has been purchased and moved forward with format changes this next detail is directly related to how BASS functions.

When BASS is choosing tournament destinations for say the Elite Series or Opens, quality of fish or lake aren't what dictates the final decision. They take bids from the localities and whomever submits the best offer literally wins the chance to have BASS come to their area. It's not bad business as I'm sure many traveling competitions do the same. The difference with BASS is that they don't pay any of that forward to the competitors.

Then there is the sponsor money that BASS takes in for event advertising that comes in from local print, internet, tv and radio to promote the event. It's big business that BASS is completely entitled to do and run however they see fit.

But, the problem with this is that it serves themselves, not the anglers who are what's called the "talent" and who ultimately are what fans come to see. To this day, anyone competing in a BASS event is competing for their own entry fee with no money being put into the event by BASS. Again, within their right. If you choose to enter one of their tournaments, you accept how they choose to run it.

Again, this is not in relation to a one day BASS Weekend event. This would apply to the Elite Series and Opens.

So, what are the benefits of CWR and why do they make sense for anglers who went to MLF?

While BASS clings to the weigh ins, it is actually what has been holding the sport back for quite some time because what has been needed to help that along is a tv audience large enough to demand top dollar for advertising. Sure, fans at weigh ins are great, but they don't pay and there isn't a free fan experience anywhere besides a bass tournament.

In doing this, MLF made it possible to guarantee a certain dollar amount competitors receive for coming on board. This is a game changer for Pros wanting to fish harder, take more risks and for the first time feel like Pro level athletes that aren't competing for their own entry fee. They found a reason to make the anglers more important than the fish while finding a way to reduce mortality rates that occur from keeping fish in a livewell for 8 hours.

Another argument Gene had was that by going to a CWR format, it would play into the hands of environmental groups and further hurt tournament fishing. He said his with no foundation of evidence to support his claim which I consider to be nothing more than fear mongering designed to stop what is desperately needed in our sport, Evolution!

By moving to a CWR format, MLF has created a fan base that is willing to watch it on tv and now the local fan experience goes towards other things. It's still a fun event at the launch area but the anglers are now more of a small aspect because many fans have been watching live while they were on the water.

What's funny is that BASS already has this format available to them with their BASStrak live feed that they carry. There is only one thing holding them back from evolution, themselves.

P.S. The fear of change is common but making decisions based on fear leaves a person paralyzed and beholding to that emotion.

I once asked a stock broker client of mine what it was like to be in that business. He said I didn't want to know. I asked if it was because of the constant changes of the market and unpredictability of stocks? His answer was yes. I reminded him that I'm a bass fisherman. Uncertainty is my life!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Warriors Raptors Matchup

The NBA Playoffs starts tonight with the Golden State Warriors defending the title against the Toronto Raptors in a match up that almost all have Golden State favored. Because I believe the odds are correct I'll highlight the Raptors weakness's that will stand out against the Champs.

The match up will be a first in some time for the Raptors as they can be seen as a new team from previous years where they made the playoffs but fell short when favored to win. Against the Sixers they started to look like that team who would fold under pressure when plan A or Plan B doesn't work. But they surprised me by digging deep and taking it to 7 games and winning when they needed to.

Against the Bucks though they showed quite a few weakness's that will get exposed in this series.

The Raptors do not have a complex offensive scheme. I would compare it to any of the higher level college run offense's in that they care more about how many players touch the ball more than match up advantages or disadvantages. They want to run a slow offense that limits possessions, walking the ball up the court and trying to catch a defensive player getting caught helping the weak side of the ball.

There is some pick and roll but because their bigs are extremely slow they are limited to pick and fade with the big man setting up at the 3 point line. Against the Bucks this worked because their bigs can't extend to help at the 3 point line. This scenario against the Warriors will force quite a few bad shots and turnovers due to bad passes.

Sure, the Raptors can run when given a turnover but that's about it. Their walk it up style will make the possession numbers heavily favor the Warriors meaning Golden State could shoot 8 percent below what the Raptors do and still win.

On the Defensive side, the Raptors do show a good switch defense at the corners but at the top of the key they get lost. This problem will mean drives to the lane which will be wide open. Once the corners come to help, 3 shooters at the corners will go to work.

The Raptors also believe in collapsing at the rim to stop layup drives. Every Warrior player can drive as a point guard and then make the right pass out of a collapsing defense. Expect the Raptors to be chasing the ball quite a bit in the first half until they give up on that game plan.

The Raptors shot a relatively good percentage against the Bucks but had trouble getting past 100 points. That doesn't point to a strong defense by the Bucks. It means the Raptors are turnover prone, slow paced and deliberate on possessions.

Finally, the Raptors set up as a Eastern Conference team that favors size at the 4 and 5 have a massive problem. Too many bigs who can't switch or come out to defend the 3. Any advantage Gasol will have shooting a 3 on offense will be a liability on defense.

I've got the warriors winning in 5 only because Golden State tends to get bored and need to feel like they are against it sometimes so they lose big on 1 game.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Houston's Defensive Plan Against Golden State

With all of the hype going around about Kevin Durant's MVP performance throughout the NBA playoffs its easy to miss the obviousness of Houston's game plan and why it hasn't worked so far, nor will it work to win the series. 

It's so obvious it's embarrassing that I am the first to point it out.

In the Warriors first series against the Clippers the plan was to prevent Durant from getting any kind of rhythm thus making others around him carry the load. Mainly Draymond Green and Andre Iquodala once Demarcus Cousins got hurt.

The thought process wasn't terrible because neither Green or Iguodala are known as scorers. Rather they are more inclined to distribute, play strong defense and rebound. 

The problem was that with that game plan it meant they would accept Curry and Thompson scoring which as we now know, was a bad idea.

So, here comes Houston with the new and improved game plan learned from the mistakes of the previous series.

They have chosen to limit scoring from Curry and Thompson using ball pressure and tight man to man defense. On switches, the Rockets wont use a lineup that avoids mismatches because they believe Capella's presence is needed on the defensive side and for offensive rebounds. My belief is that it's more about the offensive rebounds because Houston doesn't shoot high percentage shots leaving the need for an offensive rebounder. 

With all the obvious weakness's in Houston's defense it wouldn't surprise me if Mike D'Antoni came into the series hoping to keep pace with the Warriors and win close games at the end. When a team has so many weakness's it becomes hard to hide players or keep another offense from targeting them.

Add to their problems on defense is the belief that by allowing Durant to score two pointers, Houston could outscore them with the 35 3's they shoot per game. IF it was any other team maybe this would have a chance. But it isn't any other team.

The Warriors don't use the entire 24 second clock and believe in having more offensive possessions per game than their opponents. 

They add to offensive success by shooting high percentage shots that come from a team concept of moving the ball to find the open player. 

When a team chooses to accept letting a player move freely on offense, get to his spots, create opportunities for other players it will always fail as opposed to using team defense with every player needing to communicate and dictate an opponents drive. 

This isn't the Houston Rockets make up and is why they will never make it to the NBA Finals with James Harden or Chris Paul on the team. They are great players. They aren't what's needed to win a Championship.

The proof is in how Houston closed the gap to the Warriors when Harden came out for his injury. It was a different team that played as a unit. Not 5 individuals.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Terence Crawford VS Amir Khan

Normally, I would only use this Blog as a way to post updates about what clients are catching or some useful fishing tips.

But as of late I have found myself analyzing the different sports I watch along with the athletes who I believe to be some of the best ever.

This post will cover the upcoming ESPN Pay Per view Terence Crawford fight vs Amir Khan. It's an interesting choice for Terence "Bud" Crawford to make as Amir Khan isn't a marquee name any longer nor does he pose any real threat to Crawford's title.

Sure, Amir Khan fans will jump to the conclusion that I'm a hater but that isn't accurate of any athlete I analyze. And is no different in the case of Amir.

Lets look at the fighters to see how I got to my conclusion.

Terence Crawford is one of the highest risk takers in the ring that I have seen as of late. Others will brawl which can be seen as taking risks but in Buds case, he isn't looking to trade punches instead looking to create an opening or cause a mistake he can capitalize on via constant pressure on offense.

Triple G follows the same tactic but openly acknowledges that he believes in the Mexican style of taking punches rather than avoid them.

Bud has adopted traits from some of the absolute best fighters without committing to any one aspect of their style. Much like Bruce Lee did, he has taken what he believes to be the best of other styles and master them and then incorporated it into his own style.

Who has he adopted traits from?

Sweet Pea Pernel Whitaker is one of the first I recognize in his style. When an opponent comes forward Bud uses a step back that isn't straight up but actually dips a bit under the opponent and then counters. It creates space and time so that his vision sees everything coming at him and slows it down. The best counter I ever saw was his fight against Jose Benavidez Jr. In one motion, Bud hesitates, looks down and sees the cross uppercut about to come and counters with his own. To have that skill to actually look down and see his hand is a step above what everyone else is doing.

Floyd Mayweather. Bud might not ever acknowledge this one but its obvious his shoulder roll come from Mayweather and comes out in a similar manner. He only does it sparingly but it shows his understanding of when and where to incorporate it. I also believe his check right hook out of the southpaw stance comes from Mayweather as it follows a similar path even though it comes from an opposite stance.

Add the skills from those two boxers to the knowledge he has along with speed and vision it means all opponents are underdogs before entering the ring.

But in Amir Khans case its different. Amir is a boxer who needs space and movement. He doesn't like to engage unless its on his terms and will choose to run rather than create openings. His style doesn't make for a great fight against Bud Crawford but because Bud isn't the chasing type we will see the ring get cut off and Amir in the corner and against the ropes a lot tonight.

Both situations put Amir in a disadvantage and will cause him to get knocked out.

His coach and fight predictors will look to highlight Amirs length, speed and footwork to give him the edge of Terence Bud Crawford.

I'm here to predict that none of that will happen and Amir will go peek a boo guard and get dropped with a body shot first and then have the towel thrown in by his corner to avoid further damage.

I expect the fight to be over by the 5th round unless Amir literally rides a bicycle around the ring for the whole fight.

Disagree? Feel free to put up your own predictions and we'll see who had it right after. :)

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


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.