KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Early February in Florida requires two things if you’re hoping to do well in a bass tournament: patience and a watchful eye on the weather. The two are closely related.
“We’re just coming off a full moon [but] we have a big front coming in, and that’s the whole thing this time of year down in Florida,” said Mercury pro Kevin VanDam as he strapped down his rods before the first day of practice for the upcoming Bass Pro Tour 2023 opener on the Kissimmee Chain.
“I’m sure there are fish that have already spawned, there are fish that are thinking about it, they’re in all three stages,” VanDam explained. “It’s all about the weather. Whatever pattern you’re on, whatever stage they’re in, [you want them] coming to you. Whether they’re leaving beds and coming offshore or coming in to spawn. That’s what you have to find this week.”
The Kissimmee-area forecast calls for nighttime lows around 45 degrees during the week of B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Grundéns, followed by a steady warmup into the mid-80s by the end of qualifying and Thursday’s Knockout Round. That’ll likely translate into temperamental largemouth early in the tournament. But, the pros are optimistic and eager to kick off the 2023 season.
“We’ve had a long warm front, I feel like we’ve had a lot of fish spawn,” Mercury pro Dakota Ebare said.
Ebare will be fishing his third tournament in the Sunshine State in three weeks after competing in the Toyota Series opener on the Harris Chain and the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals on Lake Okeechobee.
“Being in tune with [the spawn] and what the weather is like is going to help me,” he said.