2:15 We’re calling it for the day
John Cox is still in pursuit of a kicker, and there is a deal of time left before weigh-in for some anglers, but many more are in transit back toward weigh-in now. For any pros in early flights in Griffin, it’s high time they start to skedaddle back into Harris – the same goes for the Apopka canal crew.
While the pros are running or looking for a last-minute bite, we’re going to be shutting down the blog and heading to weigh-in. If you want to see big ones, we’re going to have plenty of that for sure. If you can, come on down to weigh-in at Ski Beach Park. If not, tune to flwfishing.com at 3 p.m. ET to see how day one shakes out.
2:05 Cox is headed toward a 10
John Cox says he’s headed to a 10-pounder on a bed now. We’ve got a reporter following him, so we’ll see what goes down for sure.
1:53 Morgan culls
Andy Morgan seems to be back on the horse now. He got off to a good start this morning and just culled up about a pound. He’s solidly in the mid-teens now, which will be a decent bag for sure.
1:45 Lawyer has a solid limit
Jeremy Lawyer just doesn’t stop catching them. He’s got about 12 pounds now and just made a small cull from Griffin.
Grae Buck has a decent bag too, with four fish for 10 pounds. One more good one would be really nice.
1:28 Thrift adds a 3-pounder
Fishing over in Lake Griffin, Bryan Thrift culled up a minute ago. The fish he caught was a solid 3-pounder (or a little better). Now, he’s got more than 15 pounds for sure.
1:12 Thrift with a small limit
Bryan Thrift isn’t on pace for second yet. That might be coming. For now, he says he has a small limit, worth perhaps 12 or 14 pounds.
Also with a limit is Ramie Colson, but it’s not even into double digits.
1:10 Schmitt with a solid limit
Bryan Schmitt has about 14 pounds now. He’s a killer pretty much anytime grass is involved – this could be a good week for him.
Jonathan Henry has five small ones now. He foul-hooked the big one he eyed up earlier and had to toss her back.
12:50 Cox has 20
John Cox is fishing a long way from the ramp, but it’s paid off. He just caught a 4-pounder off a bed and he says he’s got about 20 pounds in the boat. We all figured Cox would catch ‘em this week, and so far things are sure setting up right.
12:35 Dobson culls up
Jeff Dobson has culled up with a solid 2-pounder and now has perhaps 19 pounds. It was the first fish he caught that he didn’t see, though he did catch it off a bed. Now he’s stopped and is coaching his co-angler, Rick Flacke, to see if he can catch the male.
12:30 Nixon, Arey
The General picked up the nickname of “Mr. Megabucks” in large part thanks to his success on the Harris Chain. It’s not treating him too well today though – he’s only got four small ones.
Meanwhile, Matt Arey has a limit for about 12 pounds.
12:18 Bird, Stefan, bedding bass
Cody Bird has a limit for about 10 pounds. Matt Stefan has a limit for about 9 pounds. Both of them could really use a kicker.
Both Jeff Dobson and Andrew Upshaw are looking for a kicker now. They each have honed in on a big bed fish, but Dobson decided to leave his for tomorrow, and Upshaw has been unable to get his to bite.
12:05 Another handful of updates
Dylan Hays has added a 5-pounder to his limit, putting him up to about 12 pounds. Jeff Sprague has a limit for around 13 pounds now too. Brad Knight just boated his third keeper, but none of them compare to the 6-pounder he lost early in the day.
11:55 Upshaw has a good bag as well
Andrew Upshaw is turning into a bit of a sight-fishing guru of late. Cruising around in a canal down near Apopka, Upshaw has a limit that goes about 17 pounds now. That’s a solid start for sure, and he’s still got at least an hour and a half to find a couple kickers.
11:50 Monsoor, Johnson, Yelas, Martin
We haven’t hit anyone who is crushing lately, but there are more updates to be had. Jay Yelas has two small keepers. Tom Monsoor has a limit for 2-pounders. Jason Johnson has four little ones. Scott Martin now has four for about 10 pounds.
11:42 More limits
Matt Reed and Mike Surman each have a small limit.
In better shape, Anthony Gagliardi and Clark Wendlandt each just culled by about a pound. Gagliardi did it in the Apopka canal and Wendlandt it in Griffin. Now, each of them has about 14 pounds in the boat.
11:38 Jeff Dobson has had himself a good morning
You can be forgiven for not knowing who Jeff Dobson is. He’s a rookie on Tour this year, and while he’s got plenty of experience at the BFL level, his first real foray into the Costa FLW Series was last season. In it, he rolled to a third-place finish in the Southwestern Division and qualified for the Tour. Now, he’s got about 18 pounds in the boat halfway through day one on the Harris Chain.
11:25 Johnston and Richardson
Chris Johnston has five little ones in the box at the moment. Curtis Richardson has a limit as well, but one decent one, with his biggest being about 3 pounds.
Anthony Gagliardi has also filled out his limit now, and he says he’s got about 12 pounds.
11:15 Gussy, Buddy and more
Jeff Gustafson only has four little ones at the moment. Buddy Gross has three for about 7 pounds. Doing better, Troy Morrow and Cody Meyer each has a limit of little ones.
11:05 Updates galore
Andy Morgan is up to “13 pounds” now, which is probably pretty good. On the Tennessee track, Michael Neal has a limit for 13 pounds and just culled.
Jimmy Reese has a limit as well, including a 5-pounder. He’s fishing near Peter T and they are both inching plastics through the pads.
Josh Weaver finished his limit a moment ago, most of it isn’t special, but one of them is a 6-pounder.
11:00 Strader has a big one lined up
Wesley Strader is currently looking at one in a canal that’s a giant.
"I don't get shaky very often, but this one has me shaking,” says Strader. “It's like I have buck fever."
Needless to say, he might be there a while.
10:37 Ponds has gone with an interesting strategy
Instead of running immediately to Apopka, Pete Ponds started off fishing in Lake Eustis. Now, he just locked through into the Apopka canal. He’s got four small keepers at the moment, but there has been a lot of action down Apopka way so far.
Also, Darrell Robertson has a limit with four squeakers and one 7-pounder.
10:33 Davis with a limit
Firing around in Griffin, Alex Davis has a small limit to get things rolling.
10:28 Canterbury, Peter T, Barnes, Hays
Scott Canterbury has three keepers and just joined the party over in Griffin. There are a pile of boats plying the offshore grass there, but not a lot of catching going on.
Peter T is off to a decent start with four keepers and Evan Barnes has three in the box. Dylan Hays just completed his limit for about 8 pounds.
10:20 Morgan wakes up with 12
Andy Morgan has 12 pounds in the box so far today. He’s liking it – it’s more than he figured he’d catch in the morning.
10:15 Tracy Adams is on the board
Over in Griffin, Tracy Adams has three in the box. None of them are too big, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
10:08 Hollowell is off to an interesting start, the conditions are perfect
Todd Hollowell has lost his phone and his hat today. But, he’s got a 4-pounder in the boat, so life could be worse.
The fog is almost cleared off everywhere now. When it goes, it’s going to be perfect throughout the whole system. It’s bright, sunny, warm and nearly slick calm. You could hardly ask for better conditions for sight-fishing.
10:00 Rounding up some anglers
With perfect weather, it’s evident that the Harris Chain can really produce. What follows is a pile of anglers already reporting fish. Austin Felix has three for about 5 pounds. Jason Lambert has added another big one to go with his giant – he’s got 11 pounds for two fish now. Chris Whitson has one so far, but it goes about 3-pounds. Brandon Cobb has worked his limit up to about 11 pounds now. Brad Knight is also on the board now, with about a 2-pounder.
9:50 Tutt has a small limit, technique notes
Back in Harris Jim Tutt has a small limit to start things off.
So far today, we’re seeing a lot of sight-fishing, but also some other Florida deals. Fishing plastics slow in pads and Kissimmee grass seems popular, but a lot of anglers are tossing swim jigs as well. Either way, there’s not a lot of hard bait action so far.
9:40 Patek is culling
In Harris, Stephen Patek has culled twice so far. He’s only got about 8 pounds in the boat though. In Eustis, Mark Rose is actually sight-fishing, though he doesn’t have any yet.
Down by Apopka, Dylan Hays has four for about a 7-pound total and Brad Knight just lost a good one in the pads.
9:35 Gagliardi with another good one
Anthony Gagliardi just boated his third fish, a quality 4-pounder. He’s sight-fishing to begin his day.
9:25 A multitude of fish catches
Things are starting to get good out on ye old Harris Chain. Matt Wittekiend has started his day with three keepers – two small ones and a 7-pounder. Similarly, Jeff Dobson has a 7-pounder and three small ones to go with it. Additionally, Gagliardi has added a 3-pounder to bring his total up to two keepers.
9:18 Griffin report
Pros are still streaming into Lake Griffin, but our crew has quit watching the canal and is now roaming for anglers. As for that, Casey Scanlon is fishing near the outflow of the canal and has no keepers.
9:14 Henry has one spotted
Jonathan Henry is fishing down through the Apopka lock and has an empty livewell at the moment. But that might not hold for long, he’s currently working a 6-pounder on a bed. Henry is a pretty good sight-fisherman – he proved it in style in the Costa FLW Series event on Grand Lake a couple years back.
9:08 Some Apopka catches
Anthony Gagliardi was one of the first to make it all the way to the Apopka lock. He’s not actually fishing in Apopka though – he’s started in one of the canals nearby and has caught one small keeper out of the pads to start.
Also in the Apopka canal is Scott Matin. He plucked a 3-pounder off a bed to get his day started.
9:03 Make it a limit for Birge
Zack Birge’s fifth is a good one, a solid 5-pounder. He’s off to a good start without a doubt.
8:59 Birge has four now
A few minutes ago Zack Birge checked in with two keepers. He’s up to four now, and one of them is a decent 2-pounder. Like the rest of our early action, Birge has started his day in Lake Harris.
8:45 Cobb update
Fishing near Jason Lambert, Brandon Cobb has four keepers so far. None of them are 8-pounders though.
8:38 Jason Lambert has a giant
Down in Little Harris, Jason Lambert is off to a rollicking start with an 8-pounder. It’s only one keeper, but that’s sure the kind you want. Stanley Shaw is Lambert’s co-angler today, and he’s also got a really big one in the boat to start.
8:27 Batts is on the board
Clayton Batts is off to a quick start after a successful derby on Lake Travis. Fishing in Eustis, he’s got three keepers in the livewell already.
8:15 Frederick and Thrift
Fishing just outside of takeoff, Tim Frederick and Bryan Thrift are fishing offshore a little. That’s for sure expected to be a player this week, but neither have boxed a fish yet.
It’s very foggy over in Griffin, unlike the conditions in Lake Harris. Though the anglers are streaming into it now, nine at a time as they get through the lock, we haven’t gotten a read on how many because of the fog.
7:59 Kenny has a limit
In Harris, JT Kenney is on the board with a limit already and just culled. He says he only has one “nice one” so far though.
Also worth noting, Anthony Gagliardi says he’s planning on rolling all the way through the Apopka lock.
Finally, the first anglers heading to Griffin are roaring out of the canal.
7:50 Dora report
So far, 12 boats have made the trek into Dora and beyond, Scott Martin among them, with John Cox possibly following. We’ll see what happens when more of the anglers get to actually fishing.
7:30 Watson strikes first
James Watson has gotten off to a miserable start to his season, but he’s the first on the board today. Fishing in Harris, his first keeper isn’t big, but they all count.
7:11 The lay of the land
We’ll have some fish catches rolling in soon, but for the moment it’s worth noting some of the timing considerations for this event. Plenty of pros are expected to make long journeys into lakes other than Harris, and it takes some time for that to all happen. From takeoff, it takes about 15 minutes to get into Lake Eustis (because of the idle zone in the Dead River). If pros want to travel to Lake Griffin, it’ll take nearly an hour. To get into Lake Dora, it takes a lot of idling and about 35 minutes.
Taken together, that all means that we can expect a slower start to the actual fishing than we’d see at a place like Beaver Lake or Lake Guntersville.
7:00 Day one is underway
After blustery and somewhat cool conditions for much of practice, day one of the FLW Tour presented by Ranger on the Harris Chain is launching in perfect conditions. It’s fairly warm, the wind is still, and the fish should be ready to play. So far this year Mark Rose and Bryan Thrift have utterly dominated the season, but there are no guarantees at stop No. 3.
The Harris Chain represents one of the most diverse and challenging playing fields the pros will face all year. It also has more potential for giant bags and high weights than any location besides perhaps Guntersville. In all, the pros can spread out to fish 10 different lakes, from Lake Harris to Lake Apopka, Lake Griffin, Lake Eustis, Lake Dora, Lake Carlton, Horseshoe Lake, Little Lake Harris, Lake Denham and Lake Beauclair. When you factor in various long idle zones and two locks, it makes choosing the right water and properly budgeting your time a big deal.
Today’s weather is perfect for sight-fishing and the warming trend that started on Wednesday may push more big females toward the banks. There are also plenty of postspawn bass to be caught, fish that spawned as early as December. Those fish could be caught a whole variety of ways, from frogs and plastics to lipless crankbaits and vibrating jigs. Soon we’ll know a lot more about how the fish will be caught this week, but for now, it’s just a perfect day in Florida.
Temperature at takeoff: 61 degrees
Forecast high: 85 degrees
Sky: mostly clear
Precipitation: 20 percent chance of rain
Wind: NW at 5 mph
Folgers Morning Takeoff: 7 a.m. ET at Ski Beach Park, Lake Harris Drive, Leesburg, Fla.
Weigh-in: Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. ET at Ski Beach Park and 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Ski Beach Park.
FLW Expo: 12 to 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Ski Beach Park
FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET