Fishing & Boating News
The first angler to cross the stage at Big Lake Toho Marina, the Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Lakeland, Fla., said he started the day with a solid game plan, but the morning unfolded with big-time encouragement that would put him 10 pounds, 8 ounces ahead of his nearest competitor.
“When you start the day with a full moon in the west and the sun’s coming up in the east, you have to know there’s going to be some big ones caught,” Lane said. “I had a perfect little milk run, and it went to plan.”
Fishing a variety of habitat features from junk mats to buggy whips to Kissimmee grass to hydrilla to vine mat, Lane said he had about 15 to 20 bites today, the largest of which was a 9-pounder.
Lane said he caught fish on a variety of baits: “I caught one on a swim jig, two good ones flipping. I caught a big one on a swim jig, and I caught another one casting a worm. I think they’re trying to spawn, some aren’t, some are; some are staging.
“I made a lot of adjustments today. It was having the right things on the deck at the right time and picking up the right rod when something looked a little different. Everything was on 50- to 65-pound SiderWire Ultracast braid. When I hooked them, they were ‘buried.’”
Lane began his day by making the long run down to Lake Kissimmee, where he caught four of his limit fish. He boated the fifth late in the day after running up-chain to finish his day in Lake Toho.
Obviously pleased with his big bag, Lane said he was equally gratified by a high-percentage performance.
“It was quite a phenomenal day; I fished clean and caught every fish that bit, except for maybe one small fish,” he said. “Today was about execution, and when you have a bag like that, you made the right decisions.
“I ran that Phoenix/Yamaha from Lake Toho all the way to the Highway 60 Bridge. I covered a lot of water and when I got there, I made the right connection.”
Lane’s competence could very well prove to be the linchpin of long-term success, as the first round of the three-day contest found the fertile Kissimmee Chain a little on the stingy side. Understandable, as Florida-strain largemouth bass do not handle weather changes gracefully.
While Day 1 delivered a pleasant pallet of conditions, with light winds, temperatures rising into the low 70s and mostly sunny skies turning overcast by the afternoon; the lakes simply have not settled from Tuesday’s cold front. Suffice it to say, many anglers lamented head-scratching inconsistency.
Lane said he’s confident he can turn in another solid effort on Friday. He has multiple spots that he protected in practice and never fully taxed during Day 1.
“My goal in practice was to catch a big one and then leave the area and don’t go back — that’s what I did,” Lane said. “The biggest fish I caught in practice was 6 pounds. I just told myself that if you catch one good one, there should be some more good ones moving up in the same areas and that’s what happened.
“I couldn’t be more excited about tomorrow; I think I have a fairly decent area, and I didn’t hit it really hard today.”
Garrett Rocamora of Lithia, Fla., placed second with 20-15. Spending most of his day in Lake Kissimmee, the Florida pro anchored his catch with a 9-pound, 3-ounce largemouth that bit late in the day and took over the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors.
“This time of the year, the later the better; if you’re on ’em, you need to be there late,” he said. “It was a slow day; we probably caught 16 to 17 fish total, but I knew where I’ve had fish so I just had to slow down and get enough for today.”
Rocamora said he was mostly targeting prespawn bass with a mix of flipping/pitching baits and reaction baits. Positioning proved essential for thoroughly working his area.
“Being able to Power-Pole down and pick apart an area was key,” said Rocamora, referring to his Power-Pole shallow-water anchor.
Don Eady of Orlando, Fla., is in third place with 19-13.
In the co-angler division, Ohio’s Steve Robbins took the lead with 15-7. Fishing shallow, he buoyed his effort with an 8-pound, 1-ounce fish. Clint Sterling’s 8-7 leads in the Phoenix Boats Big Bass competition on the co-angler side.
Friday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET at Big Lake Toho Marina. The weigh-in will be held at the same location at 3 p.m.
The event is hosted by the Kissimmee Sports Commission.
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