Getting ready in Florida

The third stop on the 2017 FLW Tour takes place this week at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Florida.
Located in central Florida, this chain of more than a dozen lakes is well-known for big bass, although it does not have the numbers of fish that Lake Okeechobee has–another Florida fishery the FLW Tour has visited several times since I have been fishing these tournaments since 2012.
The Harris chain is a new body of water for me–one that I’ve never been on before this week. I’m a little disappointed with myself because I’ve spent quite a bit of time staying with friends in nearby Kissimmee over the years, and have fished a bunch of lakes in the area, but never any of the ones on this chain.
Having some prior knowledge may have been helpful, but these lakes in Florida also change quite a bit from year to year based on how the weeds grow so it’s not a big deal.
After the last tournament in Texas a couple of weeks ago, I left my boat and truck in Atlanta and flew home. Last week, I flew back to Atlanta, then drove down to Florida a few days early to get some fishing in before the start of our official practice on Sunday.
I fished two days on Lake Toho, a lake we had a tournament on a couple of years ago and it was good. The fishing generally is tough on Toho so it’s a good lake to practice on.
I ended up catching two of the bigger bass I’ve ever caught there on Friday afternoon–one a little over seven pounds and one that was almost nine pounds!
I caught them about five minutes apart, flipping in lily pads in about four feet of water. It was really fun!
I was happy that I came and fished for a few days because this Florida fishing is a lot different from anywhere else that we visit for these tournaments. The lakes here are so shallow and loaded with different types of vegetation, so it was good to get a little warm-up in, for sure!
So far through two days of practice for this event, things have been going okay. My first day was not great but I have been figuring out a few more things as I go, so I’m feeling pretty good with what I have found so far.
My friend and fellow angler, Brandon McMillan, is my travel partner and roommate for most of these tournaments. We try to help each other out as much as we can while we are pre-fishing and it has worked out well for both of us over the past couple of years.
Brandon is from Florida so this kind of fishing is in his wheelhouse. He has been really helpful for me by sharing some direction on what I should be doing.
My results over the years fishing down here have been all over the map, with a couple of good tournaments and a few bad ones, so his direction is huge.
The tournament this week starts tomorrow (March 9) and runs through Sunday. You can follow the action at
There definitely will be a few giant limits of bass brought to the scales and I’m sure there will be some large single fish, as well, which is normal for most tournaments in Florida.