KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The Sunshine State is finally living up to its name and the bass of Florida’s Kissimmee Chain of Lakes are starting to respond at B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Grundéns. After two days of Group A competition, Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer finished on top of the 40-angler group with 35 pounds, 7 ounces.
Lawyer left the ramp Wednesday in third with 19-9 and added 15-14. With two days in the teens, Lawyer achieved his goal of advancing to the Knockout Round. New for this year, there will be no automatic advancement to the Championship Round for winning the groups. The highest total weight from the Knockout and Championship rounds will determine the tournament winner.
While he won’t jump directly to the final day, Lawyer sees some positives in finishing first in the group.
“You don’t get anything but a pat on the back and maybe some bragging rights, but it’s going to give those fish a break and allow them and me to rest up for a day,” Lawyer said. “I also get to go out first for the Knockout Round, which means I’ll get to the lock first and should be the first one on my main stretch.”
Lawyer is mixing it up with different baits and techniques but disclosed that a Zoom Magnum Ultravibe Speedworm has accounted for the most fish of anything he’s used this week. He’s going to stick with what’s working and hopes more fish are on their way to their eventual spawning grounds.
“I feel like everything in the wave (of fish) that’s already up are caught,” Lawyer said. “Unless more come up, it could be pretty tough fishing. Anything can change with two more nights before I return on Friday, so I’m hoping some more fish make their way to my area.”
His primary spot, which he’s sharing with the sixth-place pro Mark Rose, is a typical Florida spawning area.
“It has a nice mix of reeds, pads, hyacinth mats, and cattails in that 3- to 4-foot range,” Lawyer said. “I’m not getting a lot of bites in there, but they’re the right ones. My first two fish of the day were over 4 pounds.”
Texas pro Sprague started the day in second place with 20-4 and backed that up with 13-6 Wednesday to remain in the same position. His plan for the day was to keep an eye on SCORETRACKER® and catch just enough to advance.
“I feel good about making it, but I didn’t fish real hard today,” Sprague admitted. “I wanted to catch what I needed to move on in the tournament. I tried not to beat up on the fish too much because there are still plenty of fish in the area.”
Sprague is keying on an area with a harder bottom composition, ideal for spawning bass. Sprague disclosed that he’s sharing the spot with another angler who also advanced but feels the area will hold up.
“We worked well together in the area and both laid off the fish when it looked like we’d advance,” he said. “Since neither of us will be fishing tomorrow, it should give the area some rest. The fishing will continue to improve because we’re still dealing with post-frontal conditions and these fish tuck into the mats and clam up and do not want to bite. Things should get better as it continues to warm up.”
Feeling safe with the lead after Day 1, Fletcher Shyrock left the ramp Wednesday morning feeling that he needed just three fish to stay inside the cut – and that’s exactly what the Alabama pro caught. His trio of largemouth for 6-15 gave him 30-5 over two days to land him in 10th. That’s a perfect example of the new wrinkle of the five-fish format versus “every fish counts” as anglers have a good idea of what it will take to advance thanks to the live scoring on SCORETRACKER®.
As a result, the weights from Wednesday will give only a partial snapshot of the fishing and might not show what the Kissimmee Chain is capable of producing.
Among those with the best days on Wednesday were BPT rookie Mitch Crane, who caught a day’s best 19-9. His total included a 7-4 that gave him the Berkley Big Bass and an extra $1,000. Crane entered the day in 16th after catching 13-2 on the first day, but jumped to fifth place after a strong second day.
Another angler making big moves was John Murray, who had 18-4 on Wednesday, putting him safely inside the cut.
Expect more of the same tomorrow in Group B, with the weights varying wildly until they let it air out on Friday’s Knockout Round and catch everything that bites.
The tournament continues Thursday morning when Group B returns to the Kissimmee Chain. Coverage begins at 7:45 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com and lines go in at 8 a.m. ET. The group is led by Adrian Avena, followed by Randy Howell, Jacob Wheeler, Dakota Ebare, and Bradley Roy.