Monday, December 23, 2013

2013 Bassmaster Southern Opens; a Year in Review.

In 2013, the Southern Open bass tournament trail covered water from Florida to Tennessee to Alabama.  

We started off the year on Lake Toho, Kissimmee FL in January where the bass were thinking about spawning. I'm comfortable fishing the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and I found some solid groups of pre-spawn bass to place high in the event. I caught many fish, but lost two large bass in the event that put me out of the money.  

My focus on the next two events had to revolve around improving my execution and getting the fish in the boat if I was going to have a good year. 

For the first event I ended up in 45th place out of 198 pros (top 23%).  My 2.0 pound average/bass was just out of the money cut.

At the beginning of April we fished Douglas Lake, TN,  just west of famous Pigeon Forge in the Appalachian Mountains. Cold weather was still blowing over the lake and frost was common on the boats in the morning. 

My practice was horrible, and all the techniques I thought would work, didn't. The last few hours of practice I ended up catching one bass on a jig along a rocky bluff that keyed me in on what to do. 

The tournament days were rainy and colder, pushing 54F muddy water into my only fishing spot. But northern bass don't shut down in dirty water like our Florida bass, so I was able to catch a solid limit both days. 
Photo by BASS staff James Overstreet

I did better on executing and landed all but one small bass that hit. I ended up 22nd place out of 180 pros (top 12%).  My 2.6 pound average/bass earned me my first Bassmaster Opens pay check, but was 4lbs shy of a top 12 cut.
Photo by James Overstreet

The month of May brought the last scheduled Opens event of 2013 on Logan Martin, part of the Alabama River system in Leeds, AL.

The long cold spell was over and snow melt raised the river 10ft above the normal high water level. My campsite was still 3ft under water and I had to spend the first day of practice finding higher ground. Spotted and largemouth bass were trying to spawn but the water authorities were dropping the water so fast it confused the fish. 

I caught nice limits of spotted bass fishing deep water coves and largemouth fishing shallow beds. Caught my largest Coosa River spot in the event, 4lbs 3ozs.

Fishing pressure changed the bite in my area and I didn't have time in the two-day practice period to find alternate areas. I was only able to catch small limits of spotted bass and finished the worst of the season. 

I ended up In 120th place out of 164 pros (bottom 75%). My 1.7 pound average/bass was 11lbs out of the money cut and an extremely poor performance. 

I have to figure out better patterns for fishing extreme drops in water levels. 

My final ranking for the year was 28th on the Southern Open trail. This qualified me for a last chance tournament named the Bassmaster Classic Wildcard. The event was scheduled for the first week in December on Lake Okeechobee, FL, a lake I am very familiar with. 

The Bassmaster Classic Wildcard event was to be unique. Only the top-30 Open anglers were invited to compete against the Elite Pros who had yet qualified for the Classic.

The Open pros were to fish against Bassmaster Elite pros under Elite rules (no net, no coangler), and there was a 30-day off limits period for information.  During the week of the tournament all the competitors had just two and a half days to practice. I felt this levelled the playing field and gave working guys like me a chance against full-time pros. 

I made a scouting trip in September ahead of the 30-day off limits. That set the stage for me: I found weed control efforts for water hyacinth and cattails were going to determine this event!  The constantly changing habitat conditions were going to constantly change the fish. 

Mats that held fish one week were gone the next. The bass were making beds but spawning was not yet in full swing. I felt this was going to be a pre-spawn derby. 

I ended up finding quality groups of bass during the 2.5 day official practice period that could win me the event. I knew that if I could land them, I would have a shot at 21lbs per day and could win. 

Poor execution again plaqued me and cost me a chance for a tournament win. Chad Morganthaler won with 63lbs, nearly equal to the weights I was finding in practice. 

Not having a landing net allowed three bass around 4lbs each to get off at the boat on day one. On day two, an 8lb bass I flipped up to the top of a weed mat and got away.  I've since analyzed my mistakes and made corrections. 

In the Wildcard event I ended up 14th place out of 49 pros who qualified and fished the event (top 29%). My 2.9 pound average/bass earned me a pay check, but was one pound, six ounces out of the top 12. So close....

In my second year on the Bassmaster Southern Opens tour I ended strong. My overall ranking remained 28th; I caught my largest one-day bag of bass on the pro level (17lbs, 4ozs); and I earned my largest annual winnings as a Bassmaster Southern Opens Pro. 

Overall, a good year but not good enough. Trust me when I say I'm happy with my accomplishments, but they were short of my goals. Had I landed the bass that I hooked, I would have met many of my goals, and realized a greater outcome. 

I play a game that involves sleep deprivation, intense long-term focus, exsposure to harsh environmental conditions, mental stress, and physical endurance during week long events.  

I am ready for 2014! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Reflections of Bass Nation State Championship

Typically, after a tournament I have time to reflect back on the event while I make the long drive home.  The Florida Bass Nation State Championship was no different. 

As I balance a full-time career with a family life, I understand that am not able to practice the number of days as my competition.  To me that is not a handicap, but a fact that I build my mental strength on. 

Maintaining a balance with a career and family of five has taught me how to switch my mental focus when I get on the water.  It forces me to do more research, be more organized and efficient with my time, and to decipher the mood of the bass quicker.  In a nutshell, it forces me to think like an Elite pro.  

My goal in the state championship was to focus on the patterns and areas which I had located bass during a weekend practice day in September.  During that trip, I scouted the vegetation and habitats, documented the water conditions, and even caught some nice bass up to seven pounds. 

The first practice day of the state championship was scheduled the day of Halloween.  I chose to spend that day at home with my youngest daughter who went trick-or-treating as a squirrel. 

I woke at three o’clock Friday morning and drove down to Clewiston to begin fishing Lake Okeechobee.  Little had changed on the lake so I ran new water to open my mind and get back in tune with what the bass were doing. Found bass doing the same thing they did a month earlier. I even located to two new populations of bass closer to the launch site. 

On the first morning of the two-day tournament I was drawn out as boat 21 from the 110 boat field.  My plan was to run my best areas first and fall back on the new areas I located on Friday if I had to.  A two-hour fog delay ended my chance of getting an early morning feeding bite.  When we were finally able to go, I didn’t reach my first fishing area until 10:30am.

A strong southwest wind had moved out the fog and moved the bass about 50 yards from where I had found them a month earlier.  My first thirty pitches produced nearly twenty bass – but all of them were small 14-inch fish.  The rest of the day I spent flipping and pitching targets all over the lake.  At the end of day 1 I never caught a bass over two pounds and ended with limit of bass weighing nearly seven pounds, good for 48th place.  

I was disappointed in my first day outcome, but I knew my performance was strong. Had I caught just a few of the four pound bass I flipped up in practice I would have been in the 13 pound range, and in the top-10 standings of day one.  I was so close to meeting my goal. 

A weather front hit on day two and presented us with steady 10-15mph winds out of the northeast.  For anyone that has boated on the second largest lake contained within the United States, Lake Okeechobee is extremely rough and hazardous on windy days.  It took me an extra 30 minutes to safely run around the lake in the wind-protected rim ditch along the Herbert Hoover Dike. 

On the second day, my bass had again moved another 100 yards away but were tightly bunched up.  I caught nearly a ten pound limit in about as many minutes.  I worked hard the rest of the day to re-locate larger bass and again failed to connect.  My second day limit weighed just under ten pounds and gave me a two-day total of 16.61lbs. 

In the end I maintained a feeling that my performance was strong.  I believed that if a few of the three and four pound bass bit, I would have made the top ten and the State Team. 

I leave Okeechobee with a feeling of accomplishment in my mental game and feeling of failure in my ability to quickly locate quality bass within a single day of practice. 

The Bassmaster Southern Open tour always provide me three days of practice to locate bass. Speaking of the Southern Opens, if I had weighed in 16.61lbs in the 2010 Southern Open on Lake Okeechobee, I would have placed 24th and earned a good pay check. 

I am coming to understand that one day of practice is not enough to be competitive.  With limited vacation time on the books I cannot help but wonder, is two days of practice enough??

Until next blog post, “tight lines”,  


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Natural Course of Things

just attended the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society (FAPMS) training conference and learned a wealth of knowledge about aquatic vegetation from leading researchers. 

Are you aware of the fact exotic vegetation has taken a foot-hold in most Florida lakes and humans intervention is the only hope for nature to gain back its balance?  

Most invasive plants are exotic from countries overseas. They have evolved in harsh places and easily over take our native plants. These invasives grow faster, need little food and sunlight, and do well in our fertile waters.

I think it is ironic that most people with a bacterial or viral infection wouldn't think twice about seeking medical prescription help, but those same people often tell lake biologists to let nature control exotic plants, not herbicides.  Just like the super germs, invasive plants have few, if any, natural enemies in the US. 

I am tired of plants from other countries invading my backyard with no controls or natural enforcement. Don't get me wrong, I love to fish aquatic vegeation because it's the habitat that fish like.  I do not think bass care what plant species makes up their habitat, but we both care if the vegetation get too thick! Fish can't move or feed well and I can't hardly get a weed less bait into weed infestations to catch my bass. 

This week at FAPMS I was reminded of the various methods of vegetation control such as pulling up weeds with aquatic plant mowers (harvesters), stocking sterile carp to eat the plants, and using the newer, EPA approved, short-lasting products to selectively get rid of nuisance weeds.  Research EPA labels here:

Herbicides are still the most cost-effective way of controlling nuisance plants, whether in food crops, your yard, or our lakes. I like it when government agencies actually use our public money wisely, such as herbicide weed control. 

Our generation of nearly-organic EPA herbicides promise to keep us safe and restore our lakes and diverse habitats. The bad, long-lasting chemicals of our forefathers have long been removed from use. 

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has shifted its focus of chemical screening to human-health concerns rather than the ability to kill weeds. This means that aquatic herbicides used today get rid of lake weeds safer and without long-term harm.  I like that, and I know my kids like that. 

It was brought to my attention that many chemicals under my kitchen sink have worse warnings than the herbicides used on my lake to control exotics. It is a sad fact that household chemicals like Bleach, Lysol, WD40, and DrainO have hurt more kids under the age of two than any of today's plant herbicides! 

Did you know that none of today's EPA-approved aquatic herbicides for hydrilla control are toxic enough for the danger or toxic ratings? But under kitchen sinks you will often find skull and cross-bone symbols indicating TOXIC or. list the text DANGER! 

Anglers, please do not be hypocritical about weed control. Today's lake restoration herbicides do an excellent job of keeping exotic plants from destroying our lakes. I know the men and women who hold jobs killing lake weeds and they have families, enjoy the outdoors, and are professionals too. 

I knew you wouldn't mind that I thanked the applicators for their weed control efforts. Most were surprised to receive thanks from an angler. I saw true appreciation in their eyes for recognition of their work!  I even caught bass after they sprayed an area on Lake Okeechobee that was previously choked out. 

You see, applicators don't get thanked for caring and doing a respectable job. They don't get thanked for supporting their family and protecting Florida's fragile environment. But this week, I thanked them for us,--those of us that enjoy standing on the shoreline of a lake at sunset, those of us that enjoy the laughter of children catching bluegill, and those of us that watch a full moon shimmer off the lake while holding hands with our loved one.

Anglers, please stop judging today's weed sprayers by the past. The problems of Lake Conroe, Guntersville, DDT and "Silent Spring" chemicals have been addressed and removed by EPA. New challenges are needed for our officials and legislators. Protect our rights and property from invasions!  That includes our lakes.  

We all want clean water, the ability to enjoy the great outdoors, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! 

Please support your aquatic applicators, ask questions to gain understanding, but continue to support a balance with our natural resources. 

Thanks for reading my post, 

#AERF #MercuryMarine #Power-pole

Sunday, July 28, 2013

New Boat Wrap

The new Triton/Mercury/AERF /Power-Pole boat wrap has been installed by Wrap This Ink.

Thanks to Jason and Damon for their designs.  Their team did a fantastic job, as usual.  The 3M products they utilize held fast on my last boat wrap that I ran for over two years.  I know this new wrap will last beyond other brands.  Thanks guys.

During the break in the Bassmaster Southern Open tour,  I have been enjoying saltwater wade fishing and bass fishing on the Upper St. Johns River, Seminole County, FL. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has really done an excellent job of planting bulrush and eelgrass beds. I my opinion some of the best habitat for our Florida largemouth bass and sunfish.

Toyota Bonus Bucks

My Triton/Mercury/Power-pole ride

Fishing on the St. Johns River, FL

Flipping Giant Bulrush vegetation with BPS Extreme 7'10" rod

Attendance at the 3rd annual "Bowl for the Troops" was a lot of fun and raised over $3,000.  All the money will be put toward monthly packaging for the troops supported by Kids in Support of Soldiers.  Tim from Wooden Cross Productions was there putting the finishing touch on a video he is producing about the K.I.S.S. Foundation.   I will post the link as soon as he airs it.

Front of bowling shirt showing Marine Ryan Harrison and others

Back of shirts showing JHF and AERF sponsors
Casselberry Lanes was the site of the 3rd Annual "Bowl for the Troops" event.

Lastly, many friends and family ask me about fishing techniques, how-to, and "what to do when.." scenarios so I began pulling together some video clips to share what other anglers better than me have taught me.
Fishing technique videos coming soon, redfish on!
I know you will enjoy them. Look for the videos to begin airing on my YouTube channel in August, 2013.  I will post links here on the blog.

Jeff Holland

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Southern Open on Coosa River

The third Bassmaster Southern Open tournament of 2013 was held on Alabama's Logan Martin in Pell City. It was a another amazing event with water levels constantly changing.  Wow, were Coosa River spotted bass fun to catch!
Photo by BASS: James Overstreet
I missed several opportunities to do better during this event and it cost me with a 120th place finish.  Despite the poor showing, I still had the best season of my career. While not satisfied with my performance this year, I will accept the fact that 2013 was the pinnacle of my professional bass fishing career.  

Here is how Logan Martin fished:
Heavy rains during the weeks leading up to the tournament brought the water up six-feet above full pool. My initial campground was under water when I arrived on Sunday for my first day of practice so I had to scrabble and find another campground. I've learned to keep a list of all the local campgrounds and hotels for just such an emergency.  
With the high water brought muddy conditions and lots of floating debris.  The bass were trying to spawn in the 68F degree water temperatures and spawning beds were common in the shallow, backwater areas.  Largemouth bass were easily located in water two feet deep along the shorelines of coves using topwater, spinnerbaits, and soft plastic creature baits.

Aquatic vegetation grew along the shorelines and submersed plants grew in the quite coves of several creeks. Still, largemouth bass over four pounds proved to be elusive and not feeding well.

Spotted bass were doing what they do, schooling along main points of the Coosa River and in coves.  Topwater, jerkbaits, and crankbaits got plenty of bites during practice from one pound spots.
Coosa River spotted bass (Micropterus punctulatus)

Typical schools of bass fry in the shallow water creeks
By Wednesday I had two areas that held good bass, Rabbit Cove and Clearwater Creek.  They were a fifteen minute run from the launch site so I needed an early boat draw to allow me to reach my fish before the other anglers. As luck would have it, my boat number for day one was 38.

My practice weather had sunny and light winds so on tournament day it was, obviously, it was overcast.  The water management agency had lowered the lake about one foot overnight in anticipation for rain. I was able to overcome the weather change but the lower water started re-positioning the shad.  The spotted bass were roaming more over deep water (40ft) and not bunched as much up on points.  I found a good cadence for my jerkbait that caught several spots, just no big ones.  With no keepers in my livewell by mid-morning, I made a move to fish for shallow-water largemouth bass.

I motored to my best creek and quickly caught three keepers on a speed worm.  Water that was once three feet deep in practice was now only two feet deep.  While the overcast conditions kept the bass shallow, the fish instinctively knew to swim to deeper water to avoid being left stranded on dry ground. In addition, a local angler was enjoying a day of bass fishing and was doing a real good job of catching all the bass I located. So much for un-pressured fish...but wait...I saw a bass chasing bait shallow.  I threw a soft plastic fluke to the where the bait fish were jumping and a good bass eats the lure in one foot of water.  I set the hook but the plastic balled up on the hook and prevented me from getting a good hook set.  I quickly picked up my xrap hard jerkbait with three treble hooks and work the area.  Just when I was about to lift the lure out of the water for another cast, a largemouth bass about four pounds hits my lure.  I immediately noticed it hit the last hook, and just barely at that. I gently tried to play the fish but the skin-hooked bass easily surged and got away. Ouch, I knew that was going to cost me in this event.

By noon I had enough of the shallow water and decided to spend the rest of the day in deep water trying to catch the three pound spotted bass I had found in practice.  The first pass on my main point in Rabbit Cove produced two nice keeper Coosa spots that gave me my limit.  While a limit felt good, I was targeting larger bass and thought of my small limit as only by-catch.

Live blog post on 
BASS was testing out a new blog during the Open events, so my co-angler snapped a picture of my first Coosa spot in the tournament for the live blog.

I culled by ounces the rest of the day and ended with a total of five bass weighing 8.4 pounds, good for 119th place (out of 164).  I was miserable.  The four-pound bass I lost would have put me in the top 50.

BASS tournament organizers flip boat numbers on the second day to make it fair to everyone.  Since I launched early on day one, I could expect to launch late on day two.  My number ended up being boat 127, in the 9th flight.  But that wasn't the bad part of the day.  The bad part was the water was down nearly two feet overnight due to heavy rains expected in the evening of day two. That was going to hurt my shallow water bite.

I ran to the deeper spotted bass points to try and get an early bite while the water was flowing.  Spotted bass were eating, and I had a small limit within the hour on my jerkbait.  Thinking I need big largemouth bass to climb up in the standings, I moved back into my shallow water creek.  The fish had left, and I didn't catch a single largemouth big enough to cull the spotted bass I had in my livewell.  Not having time to relocate the largemouth, I started fishing every point for spotted bass on the way out of the creek. I was rewarded with a nice 2.5 pound spotted bass and a few two pounders.  Still, I knew my small limit would not help.  I fished as hard as I could trying to relocate the shad and my three pound spots but I never did.

In hind sight, the items I did not fish in my cove were two marinas.  And wouldn't you know it, the eventual winner of the event, David Kilgore, found his bass feeding on shad that have moved to those marinas.  The overcast apparently put the shad in the mood to spawn, and the only thing in the cove to spawn on was the floating docks.  I learned a valuable lesson.

My second day ended with almost the exact same weight for five fish, 8.5 lbs. The 120th place I earned was the worst of my season and pulled my overall Angler-of-the-Year (AOY) ranking from 12th to 28th. When I get focused in my tournament mindset, nothing but a win is acceptable, and I was very disappointed while driving back to Florida and reflecting on my performance.  I continue to achieve my goal of improving my fishing skills, but that does not remove the sting of knowing that I could have done better.

Now that the event is over and I had time to put it into perspective, I feel proud about a 28th AOY finish in the Southern Open level of the Bassmasters tournament trail!

I learned a lot this year and beat some prominent Elite tour professionals along the way. I walked away from the Alabama event with the best fishing season of my professional career and I already look forward to starting the 2014 season.  

Thanks for following my blog and please support our troops by helping out Kids in Support of Soldiers


Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Southern Open Recap on Douglas Lake TN

My learning curve grew exponentially during the 2013 BassmasterSouthern Open on Douglas Lake in Dandridge, TN.  

While I finished in 22nd place and moved into 12th place for Angler of the Year points, it was by no means an easy event.  I never found out how to catch them good using the umbrella rig so I relied on a jig fishing pre-spawn pattern.

To compete at this event we had to overcome severe conditions of both heavy fishing pressure and brutally-cold weather.  The week before our event nearly 400 anglers attacked Douglas Lake in a PAA tournament event.  That week-long derby was faced with snow and cold weather that lowered the water temperature back into the low 50s. The Tennessee umbrella rig (3-hook version) dominated that PAA event and the Southern Open anglers were frothing the water with umbrella rigs during practice.   That additional fishing pressure caused the bass to avoid the standard umbrella-rig technique.  It was not until after the event that I learned how the leaders were slow rolling the TN-rig to entice big bass.  

Douglas Lake fluctuates 40-ft in a season
Water rose 4.5 ft since I arrived

My 2013 schedule only provided me with two and a half days of practice time, so I limited myself to my best lures using my best techniques. After two days of practicing on Douglas Lake I only caught one largemouth bass at the end of the second day.  

The main lake water was 50-52F degrees and stained with a green tint. Two cold fronts had dropped the water temperature to a range that caused a massive threadfin and gizzard shad die-off.  I matched my lures to the bait size and colors, but all the predatory fish in the lake we gorging on dead shad as easy as picking grapes off a vine.   
Threadfin shad and my TN-umbrella rig to match
my spinnerbait closely matched the Gizzard shad

TN-rig caught white bass only for me
In practice I found white bass were bunched up along rock bluffs up river with deep water nearby.  I figured that largemouth had to be nearby, so I used a jig to work the rock bluff.  I caught one 2-pound bass just before my practice day ended on Tuesday.  The next day I fishing rock bluffs with my jig and caught a quick limit of bass.   At that point I knew I found a place and pattern to start the tournament on, but I knew that small limits would not compete with the leaders.  Unfortunately, I was out of time and stuck “with the cards I was dealt.” I felt I was forced to develop a stronger fishing pattern on the first day of the tournament, something every angler dreads.

Sunny weather in practice turned cold and wet during the event

Air temperature in the 30's created ice on boat decks

Not fun watching 174 boats launch ahead of you but that was my luck of the draw on day one
Did I mention the weather?  There was a warming trend in our practice that quickly dissipated when a clash of air masses brought a rainy, cold forecast for the tournament days.  We woke on the first day of the tournament with air temperatures in the 30s and a light coating of ice on the boats.  As boat #175, I didn’t launch out until 7:20am and reached my first spot up river by 8:00am.  On my first pass along the bluff wall I  quickly caught I small limit of bass before the rain started.  Then the wind blew 15mph out of the North and rain came down steady the entire day.  

The bone-chilling conditions reminded me of a Marine training boot camp.  The physical and mental processes of trying to focus and function when you are shivering, soaking wet, and cold, are the most challenging conditions for the human body to withstand.  My leg would shake every time I ran the trolling motor, my back muscles would lock up on every other casts, I couldn’t feel my toes, and tying knots as an eight minute process.  I shivered for nearly seven hours but I was able to survive the conditions by focusing on one task at a time and blocking out the cold.  Not something I enjoyed, however, I came off the water knowing that I was mentally capable of overcoming my physical environment.  The confidence I gained was invaluable!   

Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely hate cold weather and being cold.  In a bass boat there is no where to warm up once you are wet.  My mental exercises kept me in the game and allowed me to catch a small limit of largemouth that weighted 12-7 pounds, good for 37th place on day-one.   

Small limit of bass the first day held me in 37th place

Cold, muddy water moved in
As if there weren’t enough environmental challenges on the first day, I found totally different fishing conditions on the second day. When I arrived on my spot the next morning I was faced with water levels that raised two feet, high current flow, and cold muddy water that the rain washed in.  I fished my rock bluff for two entire passes without a bite.  I had no other fish to go to, so I was forced to figure out the bass and fish this area regardless of the fast flow and 48 degree muddy water. 

I knew the high current would place the bass tighter to the rocks so I concentrated on pin-point casts. It worked, and the first bass I landed on day-two was a little over four-pounds.  Then I proceeded to catch one or two bass every time I fished down my rock bluff.  

Bass Photographer James Overstreet captured the moment!
At the end of the day I caught a limit weighing 13-1 pounds, just ounces heavier than the previous tournament day.  My final weight was 25.8 lbs and nothing near the top leader weights, yet I was excited to see that my weight earned 22nd place and a pay check under extremely the tough fishing conditions.  My first pay check on the Bassmaster Southern Open level and I stood shoulder to shoulder with Rick Clunn,  only loosing to him by one place!

The points I earned for the year put me in 12th place for the Angler of the Year (AOY) race.  More than just bragging rights, the top five AOY-anglers earn an invitation to fish on the Bassmaster Elite tour, the most prestigious fishing series in the world!  What an honor that would be!
deep coves looked great but did not produce for me
Rock bluffs were the best option I found during the muddy, rising water conditions

Looking back on the event the best thing I did was move away from the shad die off to areas where bass were still actively feeding and chasing bait.  With limited practice time it is extremely difficult to catch up with the knowledge that the local angler had about the lake.  The ecosystem and habitat of each lake is unique, and understanding the dynamics is what drives me to compete at this level.  Fishing in lakes that lack aquatic plants makes me understand why anglers say bass are easier to pattern on Northern lakes.  I am finding that when a lake only contains wood, rocks, and structure drops, it seems to be easier to figure out the local fishing pattern. That kind of habitat is what I term “simple habitat”.  The more I fish the Bassmaster Southern Open trail the more I appreciate the “complex habitat” that aquatic plants add to lake ecosystems like Florida.

When I returned to sunny Florida I took a day to fish with my son-in-law Ryan on the St. Johns River.  The bass were in a spawn/post-spawn mood and we had a great time landing big bass.

Largemouth bass on St. Johns River in sunny Florida
My Son-in-law Ryan beats me with a bigger bass!

My schedule has me fishing the Florida BASS Nation State qualifier on Lake Toho May 4th,

then heading up to the Coosa River / Logan Martin system in Pell City, AL May 12-18th to fish the last Southern Open event for 2013.

I can’t wait to get to Alabama and catch a ton of spotted bass!