The parade of big fish continued to stream across the weigh-in stage during day two of the Harris Chain FLW Tour event, which is presented by Lowrance. Friday’s catch included 10 limits that topped 20 pounds.
Blame the big catches on beautiful weather that has a mix of prespawn and spawning bass sliding into predictable areas. A morning shad spawn is also contributing to the fun.
This weekend’s final two rounds should be packed with Florida hawgs. You can sure enough bet it’ll be a slugfest as everyone tries to catch Canadian pro Chris Johnston, who took the lead today with more than 25 pounds in his stringer.
Here’s how the rest of the top five made it to the weekend.
2. Tony Dumitras – Winston, Ga. – 42-5
Tony Dumitras is making hay on one key stretch of bank in Lake Harris that has churned out limits of 19-11 and 22-10, but the highlight of his week so far is the 8-13 stud he weighed today. That fish was his fifth keeper of the day. He culled one time after that to reach his final weight.
Dumitras’ area is a few hundred yards long. It’s a staging area where bass are stopping as they transition to and from their spawning grounds.
“I go down the bank, turn around and start all over again,” he says. “I did that about 12 times today. I’m just going with the wind, letting the wind blow me and going real slow, trying to stay off the trolling motor. I’m casting with the wind so I can fish even slower.”
Interestingly, Dumitras has seen several quality bass chase his hooked fish to the boat, so he knows there are more big girls in the area. But more importantly, he thinks the spot could get better.
“I think they’re coming,” he says. “They’re just waiting out on that spot.”
3. Matt Greenblatt – Port St. Lucie, Fla. – 41-12
Florida pro Matt Greenblatt is sharing the same general area as several other anglers who’ve weighed in 20-pound-plus stringers so far this week, but he’s pretty confident there are enough fish there – and more coming in – to sustain him tomorrow so he can take a crack at the final-day cut.
“Yesterday I started off with two really good bites – over 6,” he says. “I was blind-casting. They’re mixed in with a lot of little fish, a lot of males. So I’m hoping the females are still coming.
“Today started real slow and progressively got better. I’m still blind-casting, but it’s more the area than the bait that matters. It’s a really big area, and I know the whole area has fish on it. But I’m really focusing on one small area.”
Greenblatt says a crawling, creeping presentation is what it takes to get bites. Anything fast quickly gets taken down by an aggressive buck bass.
“These are pre[spawn],” Greenblatt adds about his fish. “I had one that was post, but it was way far away from my primary area. I was lucky enough to get three quick bites [this afternoon]. It was tough because it clouded up, but as soon as that sun came out it was like somebody threw a switch.
“We’re going to keep our fingers crossed, but each day I’ve pulled two solid ones out of there. They are replenishing.”
4. Glenn Browne – Ocala, Fla. – 41-11
Lake Harris is basically home to Glenn Browne, who lives just 45 minutes up the road from Leesburg, and he’s feeling comfortable in his backyard this week.
Perhaps more than anyone else in the tournament, Browne feels like the current situation on the Harris Chain is right in his wheelhouse. He’s one of the best flippers on Tour, and all he’s done this week is flip. Today he didn’t make an actual overhand cast until nearly check-in time, when, on a whim, he fired a few times in one of the canals near weigh-in. Otherwise, he’s had the whuppin’ stick in his hand and has been pounding shallow cover in an area he has nearly to himself.
“It’s looking good for me. I think I can catch them again and maybe make that top-10 cut,” says Browne.
Browne is targeting spawners, but can’t see the bedding fish that he’s catching. He knows they’re on beds because several times today he caught a buck, boxed it or culled, and then pitched back in the same hole and caught a bigger female.
His strategy is to slowly pick apart the cover in front of him, keying on any hole or other irregularity where a bass might make its nest.
This morning he returned to the stretch of water that produced 21-3 for him on day one. He landed a limit, then moved on to one of several spots he’s had in his pocket this week.
“I started running some other water today and culled every one out that I caught this morning. I caught a lot of fish today. I was kind of practicing by noontime; same thing yesterday. And I have quite a lot of water that I haven’t even touched yet. I think I can catch a pretty good bag again tomorrow.”
5. Ronald Young – Lake Wales, Fla. – 40-4
Confidence dripped from the words of rookie pro Ronald Young as he talked to FLW Weighmaster Daniel Fennel on day two, and not just because of the 23-pound limit that Young weighed today. It’s also because of the giants he left behind in the area that he plans to return to tomorrow.
According to Young, his co-angler dumped a fish that might have approached 10 pounds, and Young lost one that was even bigger – a “teener.” It was so big he described its jump, headshake and splash-down as being just like tarpon fishing.
Yesterday, Young went to Griffin and fished what he thought would be his key area, and it didn’t produce what he wanted. Yet, he noticed that his two better fish were very white in color, suggesting they were new fish that had moved in from deep water toward spawning areas.
With that information in mind he relocated in the afternoon and landed a key 4-pounder.
“I went back there today to start,” Young recalls. “They’re funneling in.”
The area is large, and Young says there are other anglers fishing, but those anglers aren’t keyed on the same details as him.
His fish are sniffing at the spawn. In fact, one of Young’s weigh-in fish had a bloody tail. Though he wouldn’t reveal too many details on exactly what he’s doing, he says he has no plans to change tomorrow.
“I’m going back to the same spot. I’ve got waypoints in a figure 8, and that’s where the big ones are. I’m going to go pound them.”