The inaugural Bass Pro Tour season kicked off in Florida on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. For five days, the field targeted Lake Toho, Lake Kissimmee, Cypress Lake and Lake Hatchineha before switching to Lake Garcia for the Championship Round.
Most of the 10 anglers competing in the Championship Round had never seen Lake Garcia before the tournament. Eventual winner Jordan Lee had been there before, although it was years ago, but his experience there was enough to give him a clue as to where to start.
“I remembered catching them by pitching a soft stickbait with a tungsten weight to lily pads, and that was the plan to start the day on Championship Sunday,” Lee said. “I started off doing that and was able to catch a few spawning males that were around the isolated pads.”
He fished The General on a 7-foot-3 heavy action Abu Garcia Fantasista rod with a Revo STX in the 7.3:1 gear ratio, spooled with 50-pound Berkley X9 braid.
While this wasn’t the technique that he used to catch the bulk of his winning weight, it got him started in the right direction early in the day.
“Around midday, I started to look for more areas and found a place where the water was considerably cleaner,” Lee said of his winning location. “Instead of having 6 inches of visibility, I found 2 feet of visibility or more.”
Lee started off his championship surge in the final period by fishing a swimming worm on the same rod and reel that he used to fish The General but chose a faster reel for this technique. His choice was a 10.1:1 Revo Rocket baitcast reel.
Around this time is when the wind picked up, and Lee made the call to start using a bladed jig. This lure change proved to be the winning decision as he was able to pull away from the field.
“I started throwing the bladed jig around hydrilla in places the bass were using to spawn. I was burning it and keeping it high in the water column,” Lee said and added that the water was approximately 3 feet deep.
Lee said that one key to his presentation was the color combination of his vibrating jig. He chose a green pumpkin vibrating jig with a gold-striped jighead and a gold blade, and he said the gold flash made a difference. The trailer he added was a Berkley PowerBait The Deal in green pumpkin.
The gear he used for the vibrating jig was a 7-3 medium heavy Abu Garcia Fantasista rod with a Revo STX in the 7.3:1 gear ratio. He spooled it up with 15-pound Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line.
His Championship Round on Lake Garcia ended with him landing 26 bass for 55-01, the bulk of which fell for the vibrating jig in the last few hours of the day.
Although the first three rounds were held on the Kissimmee Chain, Lee mostly utilized the same approach in qualifying for the Championship Round.
“I was throwing the same baits and focused on hydrilla with clear water,” he said.
One change was the addition of topwater to his arsenal: “I caught some fish in open areas near hydrilla with the Berkley Spin Rocket prop bait.”