Lakecaster Online

Tournament Pathfinder
by John Presley

In January there will be two tournaments on the Citgo Bassmaster Tour. The first tournament will be held on January 9-12 at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida. Located in the central part of Florida near Orlando, the Harris Chain of Lakes consists of lakes Griffin, Harris, Little Lake Harris, Yale, Eustis, and Dora. All are connected by a series of channels, so wherever the competitors launch they have access to each of the lakes. The second tournament will be held on January 16-19 at Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee, Florida. This is Florida's largest lake at 467,000 acres. Located in far south Florida between West Palm Beach and Fort Myers. In my article next month, I will give you the results of these tournaments.

Also don't forget that Sam Rayburn is one of the best big bass lakes in the country. One of the best times of the year to fish for trophy bass on Big Sam is February thru April. Catching a largemouth bass weighing more than 10 pounds is a great accomplishment. And there are only a few who have caught numerous double digit bass. Most fishermen are still dreaming and waiting to catch a trophy that size. During the spring spawn, these fish will often stage on mainlake points in the early spring and are usually located on the inside edge of the grassline. You should try to find main lake points next to creeks or ditches and drains that lead out to deeper water. This is were some of your bigger bass will often stage. Big bass will also move into the shallow flats using small ditches and drains. Also look for willow trees in the deeper water because bass will stop at them first as they are moving shallow to spawn. I have caught some of my bigger fish next to the willows that are isolated alone or growing in small groups of trees. In the spring also try to fish the parts of the lake that are protected from the north wind. You need to look for the warmest water that you can find because that is were the fish will be more active. Fishing this time of the year on the main lake points I like to use a carolina rig. I rig it with about a two to three foot leader using a ½ ounce Top Brass Tackle weight rigged with a Gambler lizard. I fish my carolina rig on the inside edge of the hydrilla in about 3 to 10 ft of water casting into the clean bottom and pulling the lure back to the hydrilla this usually proves to be very productive. This is also very productive for big fish on the humps and bald spots in the lake that have grass around them. Big bass will also stage and some even spawn on these humps and bald spots in the lake. Another good pattern is using a Bill Lewis Rattle Trap on the shallow flats or on main lake humps and ridges that have shallow grass beds around them. In early spring I use a ¾ ounce traps fishing the grass. I like to use a yo-yo type retrieve, raising the rod up and down to pull the trap out and over the grass. This is good for those blue bird days when the fish are not very aggressive. I also like to make long casts with the rattle trap, moving it so it just ticks the top of the grass . The best color for Rayburn is red ,other colors work well like your crawfish colors and orange. Also try ¼ to ½ ounce Falcon Jigs, black and blue or black brown and amber in color with real pork. Another good bait this time of the year is a double willow leaf spinner bait with number 4 or 5 blades, slow rolled over the grass and around the willows and buck brush. Good spinner bait colors are white or chartreuse and white. As spring progresses the big fish move into the creeks and shallow water to spawn. I like to fish the secondary points in a creek that have pockets or a drain next to them. Flipping a Texas rig lizard in the willows and brush in these pockets works very well. Try watermelon, pumpkinseed or black and blue. I also use a carolina rig in these spots too. I have found that I have caught some of my bigger bass during the pre-spawn and the spawn during the middle of the day because the water temperature is warmer and the fish become more aggressive and move shallower. Big bass will start to move shallow when the water temperature is in the mid 50's. When we get several warm days in a row, they will really go into the shallows as the days warm up. Try to practice catch and release this time of the year especially, so you can catch that big one again next year and also future fisherman and woman can enjoy the thrill of bass fishing as we have.

By the way, when I am not fishing tournaments, I am a full-time fishing guide on Lake Sam Rayburn. If you would like to book a trip please call me at 409-698-9713 or Ann's Tackle Shop at 409-384-7685. Or e-mail me at JOHN@SAMRAYBURNFISHING.COM. or check out my website at SAMRAYBURNFISHING.COM.

Good Luck and Good Fishing.

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