Harris Chain Day 2 Coverage - Major League Fishing

Harris Chain Day 2 Coverage

After a weather-postponement, the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event at the Harris Chain, which is presented by Bad Boy Mowers, is back in action for day two
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Matt Stefan Photo by Justin Onslow. Angler: Matthew Stefan.
February 22, 2020 • MLF • Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit


Live leaderboard – click here

Tournament Preview – click here

Tournament Details – click here

Day 1 leader story – click here

Day 1 coverage blog – click here


1:55 – McMillan, Salewske finishing strong; that's it for the blog

Jared McMillan made a big-time upgrade just moments ago with a 4-plus fish. He's going to move up the leaderboard and be in great shape tomorrow. That fish culls out a squeaker that probably weighed no more than a pound. He needs to get going pretty soon to make the long run back from Apopka on time.

Rusty Salewske also caught a key fish. It was only 14 inches long, but it was No. 5. Every bit helps on a tough day like he's had. 

That's it for us on the blog. This is going to be a stellar weigh-in. We can't wait to see what Laramy Strickland's fish weigh. Join us to watch live starting at 3 p.m. ET at FLWFishing.com.


12:35 – Cox has 15

We haven't heard much from John Cox today. But, as usual, folks love to follow the Florida pro, particularly in his home part of the country, so we tracked him down. The latest update is that he has 15 pounds in the livewell. He'll probably be right on the bubble to make the top-30 cut. 


1:20 – Washam with a mega-cull

Jimmy Washam just made one heck of a cull, swapping out a 1 1/2-pounder for a 6 1/2. That puts him at 20 pounds and unofficially in second place. 


1:00 – Freeman gets another biggun

Hunter Freeman surpassed the 20-pound mark with giant bass that'll probably weight 6 to 7 pounds. We have him at 23 to 24 for the day, and now in third place. Freeman is on the move now and appears to be headed for the lock back to Harris. 


12:45 – J-Mac update

We finally have an update on Jared McMillan. He had to measure his latest keeper, and it barely squeked in, but he now has a limit for 7 or 8 pounds. He's just trying to survive to get to tomorrow, hoping the wind will die down and the temperature will rise and he'll be able to repeat his success from Thursday, when he caught 22-1. "I knew it was going to be a grind," he says. And he was right. "I'll just keep plugging away. I won't be happy until I get into the teens."

UPDATE: J-Mac just swung and missed on another bite. That's a good sign. "They're definitely starting to turn on," he says.


12:35 – Hunter Freeman charging

A lost 5-pounder can't hold back Hunter Freeman. The Louisiana pro, in his second year as a pro angler, has landed a 7 1/2 and a 4, giving him a four-fish total weight of 17 pounds. Had he had that 5-pounder, too, Freeman would be in easy reach of our leaders. As it stands, he's still in the top 10. 

We've seen some really big fish caught today. The pace is a little slower than on Thursday, but given the conditions, the Harris Chain seems to be fishing really well today. 


12:00 – It's bright and windy here on Harris

Sunshine and wind are typical post-front conditions, and that's what anglers are dealing with right now on the Harris Chain. These are not totally unpleasant conditions, but the Florida-strain bass are still recovering from the change.

According to Miles Burghoff, there were some extra boats in Apopka today, but some of them have already started to leave, which is good news for him. Up in Griffin, which has been a popular lake this week, the boats are a little more spread out today as pros try to get back on their fish. We're seeing a lot fewer Speed Worms and more hard baits, too. 

Overall, it's been a day of adjustment.


11:45 – After a lull, the action is picking up

There as a distinct lull in the action for about an hour, following a period of constant fish catches. Now, we're entering back into another window of activity, les my Matt Stefan, who climbed his way into the top 10 by "catching them cast after cast," according to his marshal. Stefan is fishing close to takeoff in Harris, hoping to make his second career top 10.

Elsewhere, a lot of pros are adjusting to the warming weather. Some have changed lakes; others moved from offshore to the bank. They're trying anything they can to catch up with these transitioning fish. 

Strickland is still the big story of the day, with a limit that'll weigh somewhere between 26 and 30 pounds. Miles Burghoff is a few pounds back, but only has four keepers, so he could easily catch back up. Rusty Salewske, yesterday's leader, has struggled today with just three fish in the box. And Jared McMillan, who was in third, is yet to catch a keeper. 

We're going to see some real leaderboard shakeups today, which is no surprise on a post-front day in Florida in the late winter. 


Laramy Strickland

11:15 – Strickland weight update again … it's bigger

Not many people have much experience estimating the weight of limits of bass that approach 30 pounds, but after climbing in the boat with Laramy Strickland to take a look at his fish, one of our reprters believes Strickland might have a limit approaching 30. His two 7-pounders are closer to 9 pounds each. They're huge. Regardless of exactly how much he has, we know this: Strickland is going to light up the weigh-in this afternoon. Don't miss it. 


11:00 – Burghoff fires back

Miles Burghoff answered Laramy Strickland's run with a quality 4- to 5-pound bass. He now has four fish 11 3/4 pounds and trails Strickland by less than 3 pounds. Burghoff is committed to pitching reeds with scattered lily pads. Switching to a 3/4-ounce weight was a big key for him. He says the adjustment, which has the bait "zooming" past their nose, is making the bass react. It's working, and now Burghoff will be making his second consecutive top 30.


10:39 – Strickland update 

One of our on-the-water reporters caught up with Laramy Strickland to verify his marshal's weight estimates, and it appears somene had a case of, uh … small eye. Strickland is calling his weight 26 to 27 pounds. He's going to head for the lock and start making his way back toward the Harris. Might as well with that weight. There's no reason to burn up his fish or risk getting caught in the lock and being late. There's a 100-boat local tournament going on, too, so the lock could get crowded later today.


10:30 – Strickland scores again

Laramy Strickland is red hot. He just put a 5-pounder in the box. He's got more than 24 pounds, and that might be a safe estimate. He could have 25-plus. 

Regardless, Strickland is on fire and has established a 5-pound gap ahead of Miles Burghoff on the leaderboard. 


10:17 – Strickland surges ahead

On the backs of two 7-pounders, Laramy Strickland is now the tournament leader. The Florida native has 22 1/2 pounds. He caught a 7-pounder for his third keeper, then finished his limit with another. Cookie cutter 7s is never a bad thing!


10:15 – Bolton climbing, offshore and shallow both in play

Terry Bolton was able to cull up to 16 pounds, putting himself in sixth place unofficially and likely earning him a spot in the top-30 cut to fish tomorrow.

There's still a showdown between the offshore bite and shallow pitchers and flippers. Both are catching fish, but neither pattern seems to be greatly outperforming the other. The shallow bite sure seems like it has the potential to improve as the day warms up.

Offshore, most of the anglers are throwing lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits. Up shallow, it's a pitching and Senko-fishing game. 


9:45 – Darold Gleason gets his ocean pony!

We got a good dose of Darold Gleason at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit stop No. 1 at Sam Rayburn, when he introduced us to the "ocean pony." Well, Gleason just caught another ocean pony (that's a big fish, if you didn't know) here at Harris. He put an 8-pounder in the boat for his first fish of the day.

Also, Miles Burghoff caught himself a 5-pounder. He's flipping pads and fishing slowly down in Apopka. Burghoff is the new unofficial leader.

Interestingly, within minutes of Gleason's big one and Burghoff's 5-pounder, Laramy Strickland checked in with a 7-pounder. This is a common theme at these tournaments: Little flurries of activity happen across the lake, and mutlipe anglers check in with good catches at about the same time. 


9:40 – Kyle Gelles is the unofficial leader

Following a 21-pound performance on day one, Kyle Gelles has moved into the lead – unofficially, of course – less than three hours into the second day. He's one of a slew of anglers in the 8- to 12-pound range so far today. Only a couple of pros have upped their weights into the teens. So right now, it's pretty packed at the top of the leaderboard.

The report from our media crew is that the wind is heavier today than on Thursday, and in open water that's making for a chilly morning. In the canals and other protected areas, pros are starting to shed some layers as the sun beams down on them. 


9:15 – Nakatomi catching offshore

Robert Nakatomi is working a school of bass in offshore eelgrass on Lake Beauclair and appears to have some serious momentum going. He just put his fourth keeper in the box, and it's a decent fish – maybe 4 pounds. He came into the day in fifth place but now is up to second on the unofficial leaderboard. The offshore program might be the way to make a run today, given the post-frontal conditions. 

Nakatomi is throwing a Megabass Vision 110 jerkbait. Our on-the-water reporters say there are a lot of guys throwing jerkbaits today. 


9:00 – Salewske on the board

If you're watching FLW Live, then you already know this update: Tournament leader Rusty Salewske is on the board. He caught a 1-pounder. Salewske is tossing a weightless Senko around in some shallow vegetation in Little Harris. Miles Burghoff, who came into the day in second, is fishing pad fields in Apopka and is yet to catch one. 

Hunter Freeman just caught one of the biggest bass of the day so far. Its unoffiical weight is 7 1/2 pounds. He has about 12 1/2 total. 

A lot of pros are still playing the waiting game, just hanging tight until the sun can warm the shallows up and get these spawning fish active again.


8:30 – Check out Gleason in action chasing "ocean ponies" on day one

Here's a cool video by Rob Matsuura, who followed Darold Gleason on day one of the Harris Chain event. Take a look to see if Gleason was able to wrangle a 13-pound "ocean pony" he'd found on bed in practice.


8:15 – They've made it to Apopka

It took an hour and 15 minutes for the first boats to get to Apopka. That crew includes second-place pro Miles Burghoff, who had a big day on Thursday, with 26 1/2 pounds. 

A quick conditions report: The sun is out. It's cold, with a brisk northerly breeze. But in protected areas, the shallows might warm up and get some fish active as the day goes on. Let's hope so. We saw water temps around 75 on Thursday. Today, in the south end of Little Harris, we've seen 63-degree water temps.

UPDATE: As soon as we published that last post, Terry Bolton's marshal checked in. Bolton just landed a 4-pounder to cull out a 1-pound bass and now has a 15-pound limit. He's atop the leaderboard at the moment. 


Evan Barnes

8:00 – They've made it to Griffin

The first batch of pros has made it through the lock to Lake Griffin. We should start getting more frequent updates now. Griffin was a popular lake on day one, and a lot of limits were caught there. 

Elsewhere, Terry Bolton now has four keepers for 11 pounds, and Evan Barnes has four fish for 10 3/4. Lance Crawford has two, and his second is an 8-pounder. 

Maybe the cold front isn't going to have quite the impact we expected. 


7:30 – Bolton sticks a kicker

While most pros were still traveling to their starting spots here on the expansive Harris Chain of Lakes, FLW veteran Terry Bolton was able to put two keepers in the livewell, including a 5-pounder. On a cold day like today, that's one heck of a way to start. A couple more key bites could get Bolton into the top 30 to fish on Sunday. 

Blake Smith is also catching early. He has three in the box. However, they're all runts. He needs to find some bigger bites. 


7:00 – Brr, it's cold in Leesburg, Fla.

After a weather-forced postponement that forced FLW officials to keep the anglers off the water on Friday, the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers and hosted by Visit Lake County, Fla., picks up today with much different conditions that what anglers experienced during Thursday's opening round. Instead of warm, sunny weather with a mild breeze, there's currently a wind-chill advisory and a brisk 41-degree temperature at takeoff. 

Florida bass are notorious for shutting down during a cold front, which means we can probably expect a tougher day today. Thursday was a slugfest. Today, it'll be about adapting the changes. Thursday, pros caught some giants off beds. Today, the offshore bite might be more reliable. 

Still, the forecast is calling for sun and for the temperatuer to rise into the upper 60s. Maybe that'll get the fish active by the afternoon. For now, we'll have to wait and see. You can follow along all day here on the blog, or tune in for the FLW Live show starting at 8 a.m. ET.



Temperature at takeoff: 41 degrees

Forecast high: 67 degrees

Sky: Partly cloudy

Precipitation: zero percent chance of rain

Wind: NE at 9 mph with gusts to 15



Hosted by Lake County, Fla.

Takeoff: 7 a.m. ET at Venetian Gardens – Ski Beach, 201 E Lake Harris Drive, Leesburg, FL

Weigh-in: Days 1 and 2 at 3 p.m. ET; Day 3 at 4 p.m. ET at Venetian Gardens

FLW Live studio show: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET

FLW Live weigh-in show: 2:50 p.m. to end of weigh-in