Back at the pro circuit on the St. John’s River

After a couple weeks of having fun down here in Florida, it’s time to get serious this week as the 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series kicks off on the St. John’s River. It feels pretty good to be back in a boat, I can tell you that. Fishing in Florida is fun because of the opportunity to catch giant bass but I don’t have the best tournament history down here.
Since I started fishing these pro tournaments in 2012 I think I have done well in three out of eight tournaments that I have fished down in the Sunshine State.
It’s a lot different than fishing back home because the lakes are all shallow so it’s about finding the right vegetation that is holding fish. It seems like there is always one area in these lakes where most of the guys will catch them pretty good so if you can get in that right zone, it can be easy. Otherwise, much of the shoreline and water looks the same so it’s hard to simply look at a map and decide where to fish. You just have to get out there and find them by fishing around.
We fished this same river last year at this time and I had a tough tournament, finishing in 51st place.
This time around I’ve been looking at new areas and the fishing seems to be a little better so I’m optimistic for a good event to start the year.
The weather really factors in down here because when it’s warm and nice, they seem to bite really good but the little cold fronts that are common this time of year can really make fishing tough.
We have an 88 angler field fishing this year with good paybacks down to 40th place. Each angler earns some money depending on where they finish in the event but the goal is to get in the bigger top 40 money, which will also earn you good points for Bassmaster Classic qualification.
There are 13 new anglers in the field this year, including some big names in tournament bass fishing. John Cox is fishing both the FLW Tour and Elite Series this year, the only angler to fish both circuits. He has won several FLW events in recent years, including their first event of the season last week in Texas. He lives only about 20 minutes from the St. Johns River and is surely going to be one of the favourites this week.
Also joining the field this year are former Elite Series Angler of the Year winners Brandon Palaniuk and Gerarld Swindle. They are two of the most popular anglers in professional bass fishing and have earned a lot of success.
I’m excited to get the new season started. I ended last year on a pretty good note with several good tournaments in a row so I’m hopeful to carry that over into this season.
The later part of our schedule has several northern lakes where I’m confident that I’ll do well so surviving the first part of the season in the south would take some pressure off. The end goal is to finish in the top 40 in points at the end of the season and qualify for the Bassmaster Classic, the premier event in our sport.
The 2020 Bassmaster Classic takes place in a month at Lake Gunterville, Alabama. I was fortunate to qualify for it based on last year’s results and am looking forward to it. Before that however I have to get through two events in back to back weeks.
After we get done fishing the St. John’s this week we head north to Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee for the second tournament of the season.
Following this two tournament swing I get to head home for a couple of weeks. Definitely looking forward to getting out on the ice to catch a few walleyes for dinner!
You can follow the tournament results over the weekend on the website.
The event starts on Thursday and runs through Sunday.