Tough time in Florida

The third stop of the seven-event FLW Tour took place this past weekend at the Harris Chain of Lakes down in Florida–and it wasn’t the tournament I was hoping for.
My results in Florida over the past six years that I’ve been fishing these pro tournaments have not been great. While I love fishing down there in the nice weather, and the shot at big fish, I seem to be missing something.
I’ve had a couple of good tournaments and a few really bad ones. Last week was one of those bad ones as I ended up with a 77th place finish in the 165-angler field.
In the end, I missed earning a cheque (top 50) by about two pounds.
Brandon McMillan, my roommate and travel partner on the road, is from Florida and he usually does very well in his home state. He gave me some direction during the three-day practice period we had for this tournament and I felt pretty good going into the tournament that I would be able to do well.
Alas, it just didn’t work out.
While I caught a decent number of fish, I just failed to catch a big one on either day, which would have made a huge difference. Many of the anglers who did well caught a big fish or two of more than five pounds, which is pretty normal in most of these Florida tournaments.
I had a few good stretches that had fish on them in practice that did not produce anything in the tournament, so that hurt.
One Day 2 of the tournament, I actually found a big bass hanging around a nest and spent about two hours of my day trying to catch it. But I never could get the fish to bite (it was a six- or seven-pounder that definitely would have given me a good finish had I been able to put it in the boat).
I should have known the fish was not catchable based on how it was acting, but I just couldn’t drive away from it.
It was the first bad finish that I’ve had in the past couple of years so I’m okay with it. I have had a few things go my way in a few of these events over the past few years and I just didn’t get any breaks last week, so that’s the way it goes.
I’ll learn from it and carry on to the next one in three weeks at Cumberland Lake in Kentucky. It is a deep, clear lake with a good population of smallmouths, so it should be up my alley.
In the meantime, I’m excited to come home for a few weeks and spend the last couple of weeks of March on the ice. I have not ice-fished a lot this winter so I’m looking forward to getting out there.
I love ice-fishing at this time of year with the longer days and nicer weather. The fishing usually is really good, as well!
I have a few guide trips booked and then next week, a group of friends from one of my fishing sponsors, Northland Fishing Tackle, is travelling up to Sunset Country to test out some new lures they plan to release next year.
We experiment with them and if they catch some fish and perform as they are expected to, they will hit the shelves next fall. They tell me they have some top-secret stuff to bring up so I’m excited to see all of the new baits.
Look for my ice-fishing report in next week’s column.