The third and final day of practice is always an important one at an FLW Tour event, but for the third stop on the Harris Chain presented by Ranger it may hold even more importance. Because most of the pros are unfamiliar with this fishery, every hour they can get to explore the acres of grass and canals is beneficial. I figured there was no better time to hop in the boat with The Bass Federation national champ Joseph Webster, who won the “Living the Dream” package to earn a free ride to fish the Tour this season, and see how he approaches his last chance to dial in the bite on Harris.
The day begins around 7 a.m. at Herlong Park on the south end of Lake Griffin. Webster already has the boat in the water, so after wrangling my camera gear I hop in the boat and we begin idling out to Lake Griffin.
Webster’s plan for the day is to spend a few hours re-checking some offshore grass spots on Griffin before trailering over to Lake Harris for the rest of the afternoon.
The massive grass flat on the north end of Griffin has been crawling with anglers throughout practice and for good reason. There are plenty of bass to be plucked from here if you are willing to sacrifice fishing time to make the nearly hour long run up here from Harris.
Webster is one of those who could be convinced to give up some fishing in exchange for a good limit of bass. The Mississippi pro checked out Griffin on the first day of practice and is back to make sure the waypoints he found weren’t just coincidence.
Almost immediately he hooks up with a good keeper on a Rat-L-Trap. After snapping a quick picture, he tosses is back and picks up a Texas-rigged plastic. Webster fires another cast out and shakes off a bite. He seems pleased with this waypoint so the trolling motor goes on high and we move on to the next one.
Webster spends another 30 or so minutes meandering around the flat to various other waypoints.
He points out that various clumps of grass that exist from eelgrass to hydrilla and his favorite being a type of grass that looks like a noodle.
“I call it Ramen Noodles,” laughs Webster. “It looks exactly like the stuff my kids eat.”
Webster decides to move on over to the other side of the lake while the wind is calm – which is a first for the week so far – to check out some more grass clumps.
As he approaches another waypoint he hooks up again on the Trap. It’s not a giant, but another good sign that his fish are still around.
Webster continues fishing down the bank and connects with a small fish that absolutely inhales the Trap.
“That’s how they are supposed to eat it,” exclaims Webster.
Webster sees all he needs to see from the offshore bite and fires up the Evinrude to run and check on a few bedding fish he found earlier in the week.
We arrive to a canal and he immediately Power-Poles down to tie on a frog to help cover some water until he reaches the bed.
He notes he hasn’t really had any bites on the frog, but since the pads are so thick it is about the only thing you can efficiently work through them.
As Webster eases closer to the big girl he found on Sunday he slowly climbs up on the bow of the boat. After several minutes of looking he realizes the female left the bed.
Putting a frog in his hand is the next logical choice as he runs some new water in the canal looking for any new bedding fish. Unfortunately, after 10 minutes of searching Webster doesn’t find anything promising and it is time to move on.
The next stop is another canal with potential for some spawning bass. While idling through a no-wake zone Webster plays with his Lowrance to check out which waypoint he wants to investigate first.
As he pulls up to the first bed his travel partner Jason Lambert calls to see how the day is going. The two speak for a bit as Webster trolls over towards the bed. He spots a decent size fish roaming the shallows, but she isn’t locked down to a particular bed.
Webster lets the fish settle down, but doesn’t spot her again so it is on to the next stop.
As he is running, Webster decides to stop on some pads that are adjacent to an area he got some bites from the other day.
He poles down to rig up a Senko-style plastic and begins flipping the root base of the pads. During this time he chats a little about what weights he thinks it’ll take to get a check.
“I think it’ll take about 12 pounds a day to get paid,” Webster says. “With the way the weather is going to be and the wind I don’t think it’ll take more than that. Some guys think that it might take more, but I just don’t see that being the case.”
It is nearing noon now and we start to run back towards the ramp. A row of docks catches Webster’s eye and we make a pit stop.
A few flips into it, Webster sticks a keeper.
“I normally wouldn’t set the hook,” says Webster. “I’m probably not going to run to this part of the lake anyway if I come up here so I figured I’d set on him.”
It is time for Webster to pack it up and head over to Harris for the rest of the day. He has a pile of rods on the front deck, but only touched two or three of them. If I had to guess though, I’d say some of them will get used later this afternoon.
“It’s time to go get a burger and then mess around in the pads on Harris with a frog,” Webster says as he pulls his boat out of the water to end our day together.