Fishing is a sport of trial and error. When anglers go fishing everyone has their own style of tying on lures, testing theories, and eliminating water. Luckily for everyone, the art of discovery is still a major factor in fishing, even with all the advances in equipment and electronics!
For tournaments my study always begin with looking at the fishery habitats available on each lake. My homework helps answer the question of whether the water has aquatic plants, structure, or man-made docks and cover for bass to utilize. A main source of information is the national Aquatic Plant Management Society webpage links. I compiled the most helpful links on my webpage under the Angler Tools page.
|Preserving our nation's water through scientific understanding|
Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation has been my most supportive premier sponsor, and the Triton/Mercury rig my most reliable equipment for successful fishing trips throughout South Eastern US lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Stop in at Miller's Boating Center in Ocala to pick out your own reliable fishing rig!
|Triton/Mercury rig traveled nearly 5,000 miles in the 2014 season|
After a few years of limited success on the Bassmaster Southern Open trail, I modified my traditional fishing techniques in an effort to reach higher finishes. I based this modification on taking the advice of others, mainly listening to them say I had to fish the way that past champions fished in order to win.
|Fishing large reservoirs is educational and rewarding. Spottedbass|
|Typical FL largemouth|
|Florida bass habitat|
Together, both my shallow and deep water skills have given me a method of consistently catching bass in tournaments. My fish have not always been the biggest, but they consistently put me close to top 25% of the field.
|Learning to fish contours such as this 70'-100' breakline has been fun.|
Looking back on all my Southern Open events I found that my most successful baits were topwaters, jerkbaits, swimbaits, and jigs. These accounted for all the bass I weighed in since 2012. I like fishing spinnerbaits and crankbaits, but found these baits were only productive for me when scouting for bass in practice. I am still working on developing my skill for fishing these baits for weary bass that have been heavily pressured by anglers.
|Docks are often the only habitat in large reservoirs|
The 2014 Bassmaster Southern Open season started off with two events that experienced massive cold fronts and Gail force winds. The article, North American Cold Wave of 2014, covered the extreme weather events we anglers faced in 2014.
|Cold fronts on radar|
In between tournaments I volunteered with several youth events: Teen Sportsman Association,
Kirchman Foundation, Osceola County Sheriffs Xtravaganza Fundraiser on Lake X, and several packing events for Kids in Support of Soldiers.
|Famous Mercury Marine Lake X|
|Osceola County Sheriff fundraiser|
|KISS packing monthly care packages for US Troops|
|Goodies from Walgreens and many other donors for troops|
|ICAST 2014 in Orlando FL|
|Longtime friend Bill Dance at ICAST|
In the spring of the year I joined Steve Chapman, Boodreaux, and Captain Mike Ortego on the Fishing Florida Radio show! Hilarious bunch of guys and a great radio show for fisherman throughout Florida. I encourage you to listen live or download the podcast.
|Headphones and on the mic with FFR|
|Fishing Florida Radio hosts Steve & Boodreaux|
|Coming into weighin on Day1, Lake Norman|
|The trophy up for grabs in the last event of 2014|
Year My AOY Finish Overall Rank
2012 79 Top 32%
2013 28 Top 11%
2014 56 Top 24%
|An exciting year that allowed me to maintain a top 25% showing|
Plans for the New Year:
My game plan for the 2015 season will be focused on using lures that I am confident will catch bass on each lake given the weather conditions and habitats available. The season starts on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in Florida, travels to the Alabama River, and ends in Georgia on Lake Seminole. Fishing spans from January through October and challenges anglers to catch fish in all seasonal conditions.
|Lake Toho is the site of first Open in Jan 2015|
|The 2015 season will visit AL, GA, and FL.|
The pro that wins the 2015 Angler of the Year race will have to catch pre-spawn, spawning, and post-spawn bass in the first two events, then switch gears and catch fall transition bass in October. I am excited about all three events as they are scheduled in places and months that should bring unstable weather conditions.
Without the benefit of long practice days, unstable weather helps me as it puts all anglers on an even playing field. Anglers who have been fishing for weeks before the event will have to start over. Having to adapt throughout the tournament is a condition that suites my "scramble and move" style of fishing.
I enjoy the challenge of fishing conditions that tests an angler's skill for adapting. I began fishing tournaments to learn, and changes in fishing conditions may not always be fun, but it teaches the most about how bass act and react to lures.
|Preparing tackle during the off season|
You have to love this sport in order to appreciate this emotional roller coaster ride that unstable weather and fishing conditions bring. The mental aspect of the game is the least understood and most confusing. But then again, I am somewhat of a fishing geek that likes to analyze the inner voice and the mental side of fishing.
|Jigs accounted for many bass|
I want to win this game and have made the mental plans that will allow me to break into the top 10% of the field. This level will put me in contention for multiple wins in 2015 and beyond!
|Learning to represent sponsors and talk to crowds is important|
Thank you for following my 2014 season. Look for another year of photos and videos as I share my fishing adventures on the lakes we explore in 2015 Bassmaster Southern Opens!
|See you in 2015. Have a Happy and safe New Years|