Heavy Hitters, Indeed: Kissimmee Chain Delivers Giants - Major League Fishing
Heavy Hitters, Indeed: Kissimmee Chain Delivers Giants
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Heavy Hitters, Indeed: Kissimmee Chain Delivers Giants

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The inaugural Bass Pro Tour Heavy Hitters event did not disappoint.
June 13, 2020 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Toyota Heavy Hitters Presented by Venmo began last Sunday with one message in mind: big bass will win you big money. Of course, it’s sometimes easier said than done to find Florida giants at a seemingly abnormal time of year.

The task is maybe a little bit easier when you’re fishing on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, which has produced well over 1,000 documented 8-plus-pounders since the start of Florida’s TrophyCatch program.

And Kissimmee delivered big bass all week long after being hammered by the 79 anglers fishing Heavy Hitters.

“This event was about what I expected,” MLF NOW! analyst and Florida resident JT Kenney said. “I thought we might see one over 10 pounds, but we saw a bunch of 7-, 6-, and 5-pounders. Rose’s 9-pounder and those six 8-pounders were still really impressive.”

Big Bass By the Numbers

As Kenney pointed out, the biggest bass of the event was Mark Rose’s 9-pound, 2-ounce hog. While that was the only 9-pounder weighed in for the week, we still witnessed six 8-pounders, 11 7-pounders, 16 6-pounders, and 45 5-pounders.

“To catch the size, the quality and the quantity of fish we caught this week, you can only go to a handful of places in the country and find the results we did this week,” MLF NOW! analyst Marty Stone admitted. “Jordan Lee almost had the best round of the week in the Championship Round with a 3-pound-minimum scorable bass. That’s a tall order that he overcame and it’s because there’s so many big fish in these lakes.”

Catching Them in a Different Way

What’s interesting about these mammoth bass is that the anglers found them hiding in abnormal places for this time of the year.

“From mid-May to mid-June, these guys are usually catching these larger fish on the edge of the Kissimmee grass,” Kenney explained. “They usually don’t catch these big fish in the offshore brush like they did this week until later in June and early July. That’s where we saw Jordan Lee, Mark Rose and Bryan Thrift find their success.”

Stone, who thought the tournament would be won on the Kissimmee grass, hydrilla patches or even the current running in the creeks, was pretty surprised to hear Lee and Rose explain their techniques on air this week.

“I knew there was brush planted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission a few years ago, I just didn’t know how important it would be this week,” Stone said. “That was the biggest player this week. That’s how Jordan Lee won and Mark Rose caught the biggest bass of the tournament.”

Justin Lucas’ 8-3 was just one of the heavyweight largemouth caught during Heavy Hitters.

Florida Largemouth Bounced Back from the Pressure

The fact that the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes houses giant largemouth bass is probably one of the worst-kept fishing secrets in the country. With that information so widespread, people flock from all across the state and the country for their shot to hook a personal best.

Even with all the pressure these fish receive on a year-round basis, Kenney was impressed that the fish bit this well and were this big with 79 hammers coming at them all day long for six days straight.

“I was happy to see that with all the pressure this fishery got this week, that some guys were still able to catch some bigger fish,” Kenney said. “It took some work on the anglers’ part, figuring out different baits and techniques to get these fish to bite, but they made those adjustments and were able to show out.”

With Jordan Lee’s second Bass Pro Tour trophy all wrapped up, Stone can’t help but appreciate the impressive display of professional fishing we saw this week not only from Lee, but the entire field.

“We get the privilege to watch greatness unfold when we are behind that desk,” Stone expressed. “We got to see arguably the best young angler in the world do what he does best. We get to see the stars of our sport fish for bass that some people wait years to catch. We also got to see one of the most impressive events professional bass fishing has ever seen this week. I’m thrilled with how well Heavy Hitters went.”