Lake Harris has been a roller coaster for Team Walters this year. We had high expectations for the first tournament held there in February and ended up in 33rd with our worst finish ever. This event was to be our redemption and it started out looking like that goal would be coming to fruition. I practiced by myself the first day I had off and decided to try out Lake Griffin. It started out rough when the area I specifically went to fish only had about 8 inches of water. I hung my head and decided to try some other spots sense I was there but didn’t have high expectations. The second spot I tried took a while to get going but once it did the day never slowed down. I had 12.5 lbs in half an hour with a 5 pounder and a couple other decent fish. I felt good about the area and went looking for more spots like it. Everywhere I stopped I caught fish and by 1 pm I had caught 13-15 fish in the 3 lb range while catching another 20 smaller bass. It was the best morning I had ever had by myself. I still only had around 16 lbs but was confident that I could catch it again and thought that would be a top 5 weight. Things were looking up.
Then Rick decided to go try Lake Eustis. He made it about 2 miles from the ramp when he heard a clunk and the motor stopped running…. Apparently we had run through an entire spool of what looked to be 50 lb braid and that was it for the motor. We only had 2 weeks to get a new lower unit on the boat or we would miss the tournament. Luckily insurance covered most of the $5k cost and we had great service at Citrus Marine Service. We were back in the game.
We fished the day before the tournament and did well fishing in Eustis and Harris. We had around 14 lbs and Rick had a giant get off next to the boat. We had a good back up plan incase Griffin didn’t work out. That was a big deal considering how nervous we were about locking back into Eustis with the 2pm weigh in time.
Tournament morning went well locking through to Griffin and we got to our spot much sooner than we had planned on. We fished the whole area meticulously just waiting for that first bite. and waiting. and waiting. When I finally did get a bite it was a dink and didn’t even keep. I couldn’t believe it. There wasn’t any reason for the fish to have left and although I didn’t expect to have as ridiculous of a day as I did in practice, we still should have been able to catch some fish here. Even though we were disappointed in the pattern seemingly not existing, we decided to fish out our other spots and see if the fish were going to turn on. We had a very slow bite but luckily we had a couple decent fish in the 2.5 lb range and were just looking for a nice one or two to make the day. Rick noticed a small knot in his line as we were coming to the end of one of our spots. It was 50 lb braid and he pulled the knot tight and tried as hard as he could to break it. It seemed to hold up well and the bite was slow so he decided to fish the final 5 casts of the area before retying not truly expecting another bite and thinking that the fish would have to be very big to break the line anyways…. As he reeled the toad around a tree that was sticking far out into the center of the canal only about 10 feet in front of us, the giant raised up and made a V in the water before smashing the toad, scaring the crap out of me, and turning to bolt back under the tree. I went from surprised, to crazed excitement, to absolute heartbreak as almost immediately after he set the hook I heard POW! and knew he broke the line. Rick then told me about the knot.We were both truly discouraged at that point and Rick was so mad at himself he mentioned just going home right then. The fish wouldn’t have won the tournament for us but it would have put us in second place. For a team that is trying hard to compete with the top guys it was a devastating blow. We finished the day by culling a couple times in Harris where Rick lost the big one the day before and ended with 10lbs and 16th place.
Greg and Lee Allen 1st place 21.10