As Bobby Lane exited the truck at Garcia Reservoir on day two of the Shotgun Round for the MLF World Championship, he became a lightning rod for a barrage of questions. Since he was the only Floridian in the field, the other competitors wanted to know if Lane had any background on the 3,150-acre lake.
Have you ever fished here before?
Is this part of Farm 13?
Does this lake have them?
What’s the biggest bass that’s come out of here?
“I have no idea guys; I’ve never fished here before!” Lane announced with a laugh, silencing the line of questioning.
Lane is a Florida native; he grew up learning the idiosyncratic ways of Florida strain largemouth and is widely regarded as an expert on bass fishing in the Sunshine State. His Florida knowhow paid off handsomely for a MLF Cup win on the Harris Chain of Lakes a couple of years ago. Lane is also the defending champion of the MLF World Championship and since he lives just up the road in Lakeland, Fla., all assumed he had likely sampled Garcia’s waters.
“I hate to disappoint everyone but I haven’t fished here,” Lane said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, but never fished it myself. So I have no idea. It looks like a bunch of canals from up here at the ramp.”
“The main thing I’m concerned about is water color,” Lane continued. “I hope it’s that typical dark tannic water like we have in Kissimmee so you can’t see the fish. With the full moon happening this week and this warm weather, if it’s clear and those fish are laying up on beds everywhere, some of these hammers in this field will wreck them for sure.”
The morning conversation turned on a spinnerbait blade when Mike McClelland announced that he had fished Garcia before.
“Well there you go!” Lane belted out with a chuckle. “That’s the man you need to be talking, too! Mike knows all about this place.”
Lane welcomed the opportunity to shift the morning spotlight over to McClelland but McClelland didn’t exactly give Garcia a glowing recommendation.
“Last year when the Elite Series came to Okeechobee, I drove over here to fish for about half a day,” he said. “I wasn’t too impressed with what we caught, but then again, it wasn’t a really good fishing day, either. The wind was howling and the lake was all stirred up. I will say one thing, though, it’s a cool looking place. It looks like there should be a bass everywhere.”
One boat over, Mike Iaconelli was trying to psych himself up for the competition waters.
“Florida has been rough on me over the years,” Ike said. “I’ve had more bad tournaments than good tournaments down here. My problem is I fish too fast for Florida; you have to fish slowly to really catch them good down here. So I’ll be reminding myself a lot about that today.”
“I like the looks of this little lake,” he added while glancing over the map. “It sort of reminds me of Bienville Plantation, which I have fished before. It’s going to be sunny and pretty breezy today, which does allow me to fish a little faster. The first thing I’ll be looking for in my ride through is a mix of vegetation: pads, reed clumps, hydrilla, hyacinth, maybe a little peppergrass or eelgrass – having a nice mix of different types of vegetation in one area is usually a good starting point in Florida. One thing is for sure, I’m ready to right the ship down here.”
The winner of the day’s Shotgun Round featuring six MLF pros will get to skip the Elimination Round and advance directly to Sudden Death. Meanwhile, the remaining five anglers will carry their weights over into the Elimination Round.