Tough slugging on Toho

In my column last week, I mentioned that as much as I love bass fishing in Florida, there is a lot of anxiety about competing in tournaments because it’s easy to have bad days down here, as well.
In the FLW Tour-opening tournament this past weekend at Lake Toho, I continued my tournament struggles in Florida with a 127th place finish—not exactly how I wanted to start the year.
My brother, Ben, came down and joined me for the three-day practice period last week and we had a few glimmers of hope when we found several stretches of water that had some fish on them.
But overall, fishing was much tougher than I expected it to be.
Heading into the tournament, I felt like I would be able to scrape together a limit each day, and with a little luck maybe I’d get a big bite or two.
On Day 1, I fished a few of the places early in the day where I thought I would be able to catch some fish but after two hours, I only had one fish in the boat. So I ended up fishing some totally new water and within a couple of hours had a decent limit.
Near the end of the day, my co-angler made the right cast and caught an eight-pounder, which gave me some confidence that there were some big fish in the area that I had found.
My total of 10.12 pounds on Day 1 left me in 78th place—but only a pound of the top 60 and a $10,000 cheque, so I was optimistic I would be able to expand the area that I had found and do a little bit better on Day 2.
For some reason, something changed on Day 2 and the area that I had found the previous day just seemed to shut down. I spent most of my day moving around trying different things to get some fish to bite and it was just one of those days.
I only ended up catching two small fish. I had a few chances at getting a limit but the fish came unbuttoned (it was very disappointing).
There is a lot of pressure to open the year with a good start. But this one is out of the way now, so all I can do it look forward to the next tournament in a few weeks at Smith Lake, Ala.
It is a much-different fishery than Toho, with super deep, clear water and a healthy population of spotted bass. We fished an event there two years ago and I had a decent finish, so I’m looking forward to going back.
In the end, Florida pro JT Kenney caught the giant bags that were predicted to be caught on Toho last week en route to winning the event with a total weight of 76 pounds over four days.
Kenney collected $125,000 for the win.
After a few weeks down in Florida, I am ready to come home. I wish I was bringing some money back to Canada but about all I’m bringing back from this trip is a good tan.
I am excited to go ice-fishing this week. Fishing reports from my buddies have been pretty good and it looks like the super cold weather should be done for the year.
Look for my ice-fishing report next week!