KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The beautiful Kissimmee Chain of Lakes served as the playing field for Toyota Heavy Hitters Presented by Venmo last week. Some fans scratched their heads when they saw a Florida tournament scheduled for June, but it proved to be the perfect fishery to host this big-bass bonanza.
Florida fisheries poise a unique challenge to bass anglers, as they are truly different from any other lakes in the country. Team Toyota pro Terry “Big Show” Scroggins has called the Sunshine State home for 43 years and knows Florida bass fishing as well as anyone.
Scroggins didn’t have the finish he hoped for in Heavy Hitters, but “Big Show” graciously allowed us to pick his brain on a few widely accepted Florida fishing realities that aren’t always true.
When anglers envision Florida bass fishing, they usually think heavy braided line, punching with a big weight, or some other power fishing technique. While these can be and often are the case, Scroggins is quick to defend finesse fishing in the Sunshine State.
“It’s not all power fishing down here, hammer,” Scroggins grinned. “I’ve caught a pile of fish with light line and a spinning rod in Florida throughout my career. Just like any other fishery, you have to fish the conditions and not get married to any one technique or pattern. I always have a few finesse setups at the ready. ”
Drop shots, shakey heads, Neko rigs, and a split shot are a few of Scroggins’ favorite finesse techniques to have rigged in Florida. Need proof? Look no further than Mark Rose’s 9-pound 2-ounce giant he caught on a drop shot in his Qualifying Round of Heavy Hitters this week, earning himself a $25,000 big bass bonus in the process.
Florida bass fishing and grass are practically synonymous. It’s safe to say these lakes have as much aquatic vegetation per acre as anywhere in the world. The vastness and diversity of grass species can be overwhelming to say the least, but many anglers feel they have to target patterns in and around grass to catch bass down here.
Scroggins agrees that Florida’s famous aquatic plants are a great place for an angler to start, but 100 percent discounts that fishing grass is a necessity to catch bass.
“Grass is always a focal point, but bass get on hard structure here, too,” Scroggins explained. “Things like shell bars, brush set by anglers, or debris blown in from hurricanes absolutely concentrates bass in Florida. I’ve won a pile of money fishing shell bars down here and guys targeting offshore brush piles were dominant on Heavy Hitters. Never say never…even in Florida!”
A final fallacy Scroggins hears from his fishing peers revolves around the ideal time for an angler to visit the Sunshine State. Usually the months of January to April – i.e. the spawn – are sought after for traveling bass fisherman.
“The spawn is a great time to catch a giant but the weather is super inconsistent that time of year,” Scroggins said. “Florida bass are extremely sensitive to the weather, and cold fronts are common around the spawn. If the weather and moon phase don’t line up just right it can get tougher than you could imagine. Florida around the spawn can be the best trip of your life, or the worst. ”
If you can stand the heat, Scroggins advises die-hard bass anglers to plan a trip in May or June. The weather is much more stable and as the Bass Pro Tour pros have proven throughout Toyota Heavy Hitters, there are plenty of 8-plus-pound bass to be caught here this time of year, too.