Florida’s women are proving to be pretty unreliable. Sure, guys have seen plenty that look great, but where, when and with what consistency is what they’ll be grappling with after day one of the FLW Tour presented by Ranger.
To be clear, by “women,” we’re talking all the giant female bass swimming around in the Harris Chain. The warm winter has made it so 80-95 percent of the big girls have already spawned – depending on which pro you ask. That said, there are still plenty of biggin’s locking down on beds this tournament, and they’re proving to be what’s setting the have’s and have-not’s apart.
Wesley Strader found one so big it made him shake. He never caught her, though, and he was left with a respectable 14-pound, 1-ounce bag. Meanwhile, Andy Morgan was sitting on 12-13 pounds until he came across two big girls on beds so fresh they both ate first pitch. Then there was day-one leader John Cox, who anchored his bag with three big ones caught off beds.
Despite the obvious boost sight-fishing is giving anglers, to say anyone can rely on the pattern is a stretch.
Take Cox. He had 15 big fish marked for day one. The first 10 he checked were all gone, forcing him to scrap his plans entirely. The three he caught off beds were new fish he randomly found while out fishing. Morgan was clearly in the same boat, with both saying they simply got “lucky” to find the fish they did. Meanwhile, Tom Monsoor was on the unlucky side. He nearly cracked 30 pounds one day in practice fishing for what he figures were spawners he couldn’t see. They all were gone today, and he was left with 9-pounds, 1-ounce of bucks.
“Florida bass are in and out so quick when spawn,” says Matt Arey, who found a 6-pounder late in the day but never got her. “It’s just so hit or miss.”
Of the tournament leaders, only Andrew Upshaw planned to strictly sight-fish. However, he admitted all his marked fish had vanished, too, and the ones he weighed in were all new fish.
That said, most the pros felt conditions were improving for sight-fishing. First, there’s a full moon occurring this weekend, which should push the last wave of fish to spawn. Then there is the wind, or lack thereof on day one. After a practice where anglers were blown all over the lake, guys were unable to explore many prime spawning areas, and even in areas they could, the stirred up silt made looking a hard task.
“As today went on the [silt in the water] just kept settling and settling,” says Morgan. “The conditions really cleared up, and they should only get better.
“I’m not going to rely on sight-fishing tomorrow, but I’m certainly going to incorporate it into my plans a bit more, putting myself in some areas with some potential [to sight-fish].”