Some lakes are more prominent than others. More popular lakes tend to lend a slight advantage, in most cases, to the guys who have been fishing longer than others. Lake Kissimmee is one of those lakes. It is well known to most of the members of the Bay Area Bassmasters and for that reason, we felt like we were underdogs going into this tournament. We knew our limited experience on the Kissimmee chain was going to be a hindrance and we were going to have an uphill battle to compete with some of the guys this time around.
At the same time, we were ready to “fish against the fish” and not worry about the other competitors. I had come in second place and had big fish in my first tournament at Kissimmee last March. I had 17 lbs and Rick had to disqualify himself after a mishap with the livewell in his partner’s boat left all 5 of their fish dead. They had around 13 lbs by 11 am fishing the same area but decided to just go prefishing after the fish died. We wanted to expand on our area and learn more of the lake this time around. We started in an area near our main spot that had a lot of the same characteristics. If there is one thing I believe we are doing right it is in the way we dissect a lake. We use a mixture of high strike moving baits to exploit an areas fish population quicker. While we may miss a deal of fish that would hit slower presentations we usually are able to find areas of fish that either have more aggressive fish or just an abundance of fish. Then as we close in on a number of areas we look at the size of fish we catch and make our plan from there. It is a great way to cover as much water as possible with limited prefishing opportunities. In this case, Rick had a fish on before I could even take a cast. I was still fumbling with the GoPro when he had a nice 2 pounder hit his keitech swimbait. Later in the morning we found some stiff current moving around a point. We caught 5 fish in a 100 yard stretch but still nothing worth weighing in a tournament. We had caught maybe 10 fish by late in the day but we hadn’t found the size we needed. So it was finally time to check our spot from March and see if the fish were still there.
The rain was coming down as we turned the corner and saw that the water level was way down from the last time we were there. But that ended up not being a problem at all. The lower water lever had packed the fish in and they were stacked up at certain points. At one spot we pulled out 4 fish in 4 casts and on my last one I let the fish swim with the bait until it spit the bait out. What was better was that these fish had size to them. By the end of one drift we had caught 5 or 6 fish over 2 lbs with 2 of them being 3 pounders and one 5. We didn’t make another cast after I caught the 5 pounder. We proved to ourselves that our number 1 spot was a good one and we had found a couple other areas that we could try if we needed to in the tournament. Confidence in an area is a big deal in fishing and we had it.
Bay Area Bassmasters – Lake Kissimmee – September 10, 2016
We ran south and noticed our spot looked a bit different then when we were prefishing. The water had risen a good bit so the fish would be able to spread out a little more than they could in practice. We were both throwing topwater and it didn’t take long to start catching the fish. Once we caught our first fish we had a limit within the next 20 casts. But we were worried that we were keeping the fish too cold. We had loaded the livewell with ice that morning and as we were putting the 4th and 5th fish in we noticed our first couple looked bad. We only had one decent fish around 2 ½ lbs and the rest were tiny so we took the first two fish out and put them back in the warmer lake water. They revived almost instantly and we decided to let them go since they were barely keepers and if they ended up dying we wouldn’t be able to cull. We filled the livewell up with more lake water and let a lot of the ice out. By the end of the day we realized the fish would have been fine even if we hadn’t let them go, they just get really shocked when you put them in the icy water.
The fishing was great, we were catching a lot and were able to fish the area more completely with the higher water level allowing us to go anywhere we wanted. I caught a 5 lber around 10 am and there were multiple 3 lbers caught throughout the morning. At around noon we were happy with our 14 or 15 lbs and thought we would make the top 10. I made what I thought was a perfect cast way back under some overhanging tree limbs, but I got snagged. Rick decided to try a senko while I retied. On his first cast and as he was telling me he was switching to a senko he set the hook. It was a good one and fought hard. That fish really put our great day over the top. She was over 6 lbs and pushed us to 18 lbs for the day.
The weigh in was set up by the boat ramp because someone else had the stage. When we got to the spot to weigh our fish our bag fell off of the scales and our fish went sliding towards the water. Luckily Rick is a ninja and grabbed two of our fish one that was halfway in the water. I grabbed another and we were able to weigh in. We had 18.01 lbs and squeaked out a top 3 finish.