By Shane Lineberger: As I headed to Florida for the first stop of the 2015 Bass Pro Shops Southern Opens on Lake Toho the excitement of getting tournament season started began to build. After a long drive to much nicer weather I began the pretournament ritual of prefishing.
Upon arrival I quickly put together a pattern that I was catching some good fish on. This pattern consisted of being offshore with a rattletrap around spotty grass. Knowing that this pattern would fade I was trying to keep up with the bigger fish I had found. As we approached the starting day of the tournament the water temperature had risen approximately 10 degrees to 69 degrees and the fish were heading towards the banks in search of food and were hungry since the spawn had taken place several weeks ago. With my practice coming to a close I felt as if I had a chance for a great finish and felt comfortable with saying I could catch 12-14lbs. a day.
I followed the same game plan for both days 1 and 2 of the tournament. The first stop of each morning was a place I had found where some keeper fish were schooling. I was throwing a Pro-blue Megabass jerkbait in this area. I was using my Michael Murphy Signature Jerkbait Rod from Denali equipped with an Abu Garcia Revo Premier 7:1 reel and 10lb. fluorocarbon. This would give me a small limit and I would spend the rest of the day looking for fish that would upgrade my weight. I would target reeds and grass mats. I used a creature type bait in both scenarios.
While fishing the reeds I would use a Reins ½ Tungsten weight on 25lb. fluorocarbon with a creature bait on the business end. I used a Denali Jadewood Rod, medium/heavy action, equipped with an Abu Garcia Revo MGX 7.9-1 reel. While fishing the grass mats I had to upgrade the equipment a little for the thick vegetation. Again I used a Denali Jadewood rod but in extra heavy action equipped with the same reel. I also stepped up the line to 70lb. braid. Still using the creature bait I had to step my sinker up to a Reins 2oz. Tungsten weight just to penetrate the thick grass.
Overall I would finish in 62nd place. I had 8-2lbs. the first day and 11-15lbs. the second day for a total of 20-1lbs. The weather changed on day one with the air temperature dropping 20 degrees. I still believe my decisions were the right ones for what I had found during practice. The cold front had them in a foul mood but I was still around the right fish to finish respectfully. Unfortunately the bites I needed never happened. Looking back there is nothing I would have changed in my decision making.
Our next stop will be at the Alabama River where I will be looking for a better finish.
Skeeter Boats Yamaha TrueSouth Lures
Brians Bees Denali Rods Abu Garcia
Power Poles Foothills Marine Reins
Proline Bow Strings