So I started this series back in August to have you all join my journey in preparation for the Florida B.A.S.S. Nation State Championship on Lake Okeechobee. I was slowly putting some way points together and building a fairly robust stock of areas which should hold fish no matter the conditions. Then Hurricane Irma paid a visit to Florida. Now everything has changed. Lake Okeechobee has come up more than two feet, and is still rising, and most of the waterways through the grass have completely changed. Now finding clean water is much more of a chore.
Changes like that can potentially kill a bite and make you start all over, but sometimes it can rejuvenate some things. My last trip to Okeechobee I decided to ditch the south end altogether and focus on the north. I had a gut feeling about an area. This gut feeling really came from looking over some maps and seeing where the fish would want to go if there was water there. Not to mention the amount of hydrilla in the area will keep it clean. So I headed there. As soon as I got there, fish were rolling and they were pretty well stacked. Isolated clumps of bulrushes, some knocked over, and a ton of dollar pads. The dollar pads were thick on top so I took a 1.5 oz WOO! Tungsten paired with a punch skirt, a 3/0 Gamakatsu Heavy Cover Worm Hook, and a Bruiser Baits Intruder, then went to work. I literally had three rods on deck, one with a Head Shed Baits Wiggler, one with a 1/8 oz WOO! Tungsten weight paired with a 5/0 Gamakatsu Superline EWG capped with a Razor Baits Big Mama. If you know how I prefish, it’s a lot of junk fishing, but that wasn’t the case here. All three baits produced in short order. It really was a good time to get back on the water and rebuild some confidence. When these big tournaments come around, confidence really is the kicker.
When everything has changed, many times you just have to go fishing. Most of us tournament anglers are proficient enough to have that mindset work extremely well for us. We get so wrapped around the axle of which pattern we’re “locked” into, or what we think the fish “should” be doing rather than just take in our surroundings and fish. If you can remove all the other crap and just go fish, I guarantee you’ll find more success than any set pattern you think you’ve found.
My prep time had almost a three week break because of this storm. Maybe it was the Good Lord doing me a favor.