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Not a Bad Way to Kick Off the Season

Posted by blake on January 23, 2015

Blake Toho Biggin Photo Shaye Baker.JPG

(Photo: Shaye Baker)

When Florida comes to mind, things like cold, wet, and miserable aren’t usually what you think about.  In this case, at the kickoff tournament of the 2015 Bassmaster Southern Opens, that would sum up our weather for the week.  Cold fronts in Florida usually spell tough fishing so even in practice I knew just getting a few bites in an area would be the deal.  I really didn’t catch too much in practice, but I felt good about my chances.  I found some deeper fish and with the rain and cold, I figured the spawning cycle would be held back some so there were probably a lot of bigger fish still deep.  I really had two areas from practice that I felt would play in the tournament.  The best spot I pulled up to in practice and got a few bites in a row and left.  Sometimes you get a feeling where you need to be at a certain area in the tournament despite not catching anything of size in practice.  That’s the feeling I had about that spot.

The first day of the tournament I had a decent draw, somewhere between boat thirty and fourty which helped make the decision for me to go straight to the spot I’d managed a few bites off of.  My first cast I broke off on the Carolina rig.  I couldn’t figure it out.  It was brand new line, but luckily I had another rigged up and cast again.  This cast put a four pounder in the boat.  My third cast I hooked up and had a big one jump me off.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to think about the one that got away too long because on my next cast I hammered a giant in the upper eight pound class.  My fifth cast I put another solid fish around the three pound mark in the boat.  Then I went about ten-fifteen minutes until my next fish which was a two pounder.  After the two pounder, it completely shut off.  So, I left that spot around 10:30am and locked back into Toho.  I went to an area that had some reeds with some deeper water that swung in close and caught my fifth fish which was a small one, but I had a limit.  My Co-Angler lost two big fish behind me on a senko, so I knew that area had some potential.  I fished around the rest of the day at Toho, but wasn’t able to upgrade.  I cracked the Top Ten with nearly twenty pounds.

Day two, I had a much later flight and said screw the lock and started off fishing Toho.  I knew my area that I caught them at on day one was a morning deal, so I figured I shouldn’t waste time waiting for the lock.  I went to that area where my Co from day one lost a couple big ones and had my opportunity pretty quick.  I fished a senko slowly out from the reeds and felt a tick tick.  I knew it was a good fish and hit him hard.  Somehow it jumped and dove back down and popped right off.  It hurt, but I felt like I had made the right choice.  Toho got crowded so around 10:00am I locked down to my offshore spot, but only managed one twelve incher.  I was just praying I could put together enough to make day three, because then I feel like I would have a chance with being able to get to my offshore spot the next morning.  I decided to bail and head to Kissimmee which I didn’t fish at all on day one.  I hit a section around 1:30pm and caught ten and my Co got his limit.  The only problem was that they were all fairly small so I headed back to the lock to give myself some time on Toho.  When I got back there I only had about forty five minutes to fish, so I stopped at the area I had lost the big one earlier and caught some short ones and maybe one that culled me up a few ounces.

I ended up narrowly missing the top 12 cut.  I don’t regret any decisions that I made during the event.  The only thing I would change really is capitalizing on some more opportunities, but hindsight is always 20/20.  If you told me that I would finish 15th at the event beforehand, I would definitely take it.  I’ve never been to Toho and it’s a great start to making the Elites next year.  With the next two tournaments in the Southern Opens being at the Alabama River and Lake Seminole I feel like I’ll have a good chance.  Another good thing that came from this event is that I learned something that should help in the first FLW Tour event at Toho in March.  It’ll probably be a much different event, but having been there at least once now, I feel like it’ll give me a better place to start from come March.