The Southern Open kicked off on lakes Toho and Kissimmee in Florida. I had come off a pretty good tournament in the Bassmaster Wildcard on Okeechobee in December so I had a mind-set that I would fish pretty much the same way.
The past tournaments on this chain of lakes that I had fished were usually dominated by Lake Kissimmee. I spent the majority of my practice there. This turned out to be a mistake. I overlooked the fact that there were lots of good flipping areas on Toho. I knew about the offshore hydrilla but it was getting fished so hard I decided against this.
Weather played a huge part in the week I was there. It got down in the high 20’s and low 30’s several nights. Day temps sometimes didn’t get above mid 50’s. Anyone that knows Florida fishing knows that this makes it very tough. In spite of this I had a decent practice flipping mats on Kissimmee.
Day one, I went there to find the north wind pounding both my areas. The mats were actually being moved while I was trying to fish them, Day 1 was disastrous
Day 2 I stayed on Toho and caught 10 or 12 lbs. Not the way I wanted to start the season. But, lesson learned!
I went directly to the first Central Open on Amistad in Del Rio Texas. I drove 22 hours and found weather again would play a factor. Fishing was terrible! Nighttime temperatures were dropping into the 20’s. Locals said it was the worst winter in 20 years.
I didn’t have a very good practice at all. Was able to catch a few and had one that weighed 8 lb. 15 oz. on the scale.
Day one was very cold and windy. I had ice freezing in my rod tip until 12 noon. Unbelievable for the Texas Mexico border!
Would up finishing 28th place and was happy to get it!
Next stop was the second Southern Open on Smith Lake in Alabama. Once again, Mother Nature wasn’t smiling on us. Terrible practice conditions had the water temperature down and fishing tough. I caught them decent on jerk bait but knew the Alabama rig would probably dominate. I was right. Day 1 I tried to fish my jerk bait and crank bait and didn’t do well. Day 2 I picked up the Alabama Rig and caught 11 to 12 lbs. If I had simply done that the first day I would have made the top 20.
Central Open on the Red River was next. I had a very good practice. Found them in both pools 4 and 5. I drew an early flight on day 1 and made the mistake of trying to lock down on a short day. I got to the lock and found 75 boats in the lock! I should have turned around and idled out. But didn’t. Once again a bad decision cost me.
Day 2 was much better. I ended up with 2nd big sting of the day with almost 15 lbs. and won the Allstate comeback award for highest jump in the standings from day one.