Please select your home edition
Edition

Top 10 baits from the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southern Division at Harris Chain

by Major League Fishing 16 Feb 2023 19:31 UTC
Offshore and bed fishing tactics played at the Harris Chain. Angler: Cory Johnston © Cobi Pellerito / Major League Fishing

The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southern Division season-opener at the Harris Chain of Lakes didn't disappoint. The event started under slugfest conditions, which included warming water temperatures and a growing moon.

Anglers were concerned that the sheer amount of fishing pressure from previous events, plus the event's 260-boat field, would curb the bite. However, the Harris Chain still showed out with numerous limitless over 20 pounds and five bags over 25 pounds.

The usual Florida suspects did most of the work: Senkos, ChatterBaits, beaver-style plastics, big worms and jerkbaits. Here's a closer look at the lures that the Top 10 pros tied on at the Harris Chain:

1. Tournament winner Kennie Steverson was the only pro in the event that kept his daily limits above the 20-pound mark, which propelled him to victory lane with a three-day total of 71-13. Each day he made the trip to Apopka to fish a small stretch of haygrass and reeds that were loaded up with big, spawning bass. He couldn't see the bass, so he had to pick the vegetation apart slowly, basically blind fishing for them, making repetitive pitches where he knew a bed should be. His primary lure was a 6-inch Yamamoto Senko on a 1/2-ounce weight, tied to 65-pound-test Fitzgerald Vursa Braid. The power end of the business was done with a 7-foot, 6-inch Fitzgerald All-Purpose rod with a Fitzgerald Stunner reel.

2. Eric Panzironi led the tournament for two days after sacking the biggest limit of the tournament on Day 1 weighing 28 pounds, 1 ounce. A closing-round effort of 11-13 left him in the runner-up spot after Day 3.

Panzironi locked into Apopka each day and keyed in on a couple of stretches where big bass were spawning around reeds. He couldn't see the bass on beds due to the water color in Apopka, but he knew they were there and he had to blind pitch to them.

As for lure selection, he also kept things simple with a black and blue Yamamoto Senko on a 4/0 Strike King Heavy Cover Flipping Hook, pegged to a half-ounce tungsten weight. To winch them in, he used a B. Moore Hydrilla Gear flipping stick threaded with 65-pound test P-Line braid.

3. Jared Lintner caught the biggest limit on the final day weighing 27-7, rocketing him from 10th place to third. His key lures were a trio of 1/2-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammers in black and blue, golden shiner and white. He matched the ChatterBaits with 3.8-inch Jackall Rhythm Wave and Keitech swimbaits. All ChatterBaits were tied to 20-pound test Sunline Sniper FC fluorocarbon line.

"I used the different colors to try to match the conditions," Lintner said. "If it was sunny, I'd go with the golden shiner and if it got cloudy, I go more to the black and blue. On the third day, they were biting so good, it didn't seem to matter."

He also used a 6-inch soft stick bait in junebug with a half-ounce weight to catch a few weigh fish as well.

4. Ron Nelson mostly sight fished his way across the Harris Chain. On Day 2, he weighed in a big catch for 27-7. Most of his bigger fish came on a 10-inch 13 Fishing Big Squirm with a 5/16-ounce weight tied to 18-pound test Sunline Sniper FC.

"For some reason, the big females wanted that big worm," Nelson said. "A lot of times I would throw it in the bed first, just to see how the fish were going to behave and the big females would eat it immediately. I used some other baits like a Zoom UltraVibe Speed Craw and a beaver too, but the big ones really liked the Squirm."

5. Cory Johnston spent his week sight fishing with a 3.7-inch 6th Sense Bongo in black and blue and green pumpkin. He riggged the Bongo with a Gamakatsu G-Finesse Heavy Cover flipping hook, topped it with a 5/16-ounce tungsten weight and tied it to 20-pound test Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon.

6. Chad Mrazek spent the week sight fishing with just a handful of 6th Sense plastics including a 4,2-inch 6th Sense Prawn in green pumpkin juice, a Stroker Craw in platinum white and a Divine Shakey Worm in cosmic black on a drop-shot rig.

"I mixed the Prawn and Stroker Craw while sight fishing," he said. "Then, I pitched the drop shot in holes in the deeper grass while I was looking for beds."

7. Ken Thompson kept his Florida fishing simple with just one lure, a Missile Baits D Bomb in ballistic bruiser on a 1/2-ounce weight tied to 65-pound braid. Thompson pitched the D Bomb into reeds choked by pads.

"The key was using the new Owner Jungle Flipping HD hook in a 4/0," he said. "The Jungle Flipping Hook has been out for a while, but the HD Series is even a heavier gauge (X5) and has a unique kink in the bottom of the hook bend that makes it much more effective when hauling those big ones in."

8. Darold Gleason chose to maximize his fishing time at the Harris Chain by staying in Lake Harris for the entire event and focusing on offshore hydrilla. He probed the grass with three different approaches. One was to reel a 1/2-ounce V&M Pacemaker HD swim jig with a paddle tail trailer (all white) through the grass.

"I chose a swim jig over a ChatterBait because I wanted something a little more subtle," Gleason said. "Those fish had seen a lot of lures."

In addition, he slithered a Carolina-rigged 4-inch V&M Swamp Hog (Okeechobee craw) with a 3/4-ounce weight on 17-pound test Seaguar Tatsu through the grass. Gleason also noted he caught an 8-pounder that he saw on forward-facing sonar with a Luck-E-Strike STX Jerkbait fished on 10-pound test Tatsu fluorocarbon.

9. Rodney Marks made the long trip to Apopka each day to fish open water hydrilla with a 1/2-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer in golden shiner teamed with a 3.5-inch Strike King Rage Swimmer in a ghost color. He fished the JackHammer on a 7-foot, medium heavy Level Rod with a Shimano Chronarch reel with 20-pound test Sunline Sniper FC fluorocarbon.

10. Tyler Sheppard mixed it up with the hordes of people in Lake Beauclair by fishing offshore, out deeper, to give himself a little more elbow room. He cast a 6th Sense Ridge Worm in dark water bug with a 3/8-ounce weight on 17-pound test Gamma Edge fluorocarbon to holes and grass clumps he could see on his forward-facing sonar. His secondary baits included a pair of jerkbaits: a Megabass Vision 110 in Tennessee shad and a 6th Sense Provoke 106X.

Related Articles

The art of finesse
Epic Baits shakes it up with new Scott Suggs-inspired Jighead Professionals call it lockjaw, and when bass seemingly stop feeding, experienced anglers look to finesse tactics and lures. Posted on 12 Feb
Elevate your game with advanced fishing system
Putting decades of bass fishing success directly into the palm of your hand Nine of the world's greatest fishing minds got together and figured out how to put their decades of bass fishing success directly into the palm of your hand. Posted on 24 Jan
Adrian College wins National Championship
Braylon Eggerding and Lucas Washburn surged from 10th to the top to win by 1 ounce When they launched their boat Thursday morning, the Adrian College team of Braylon Eggerding and Lucas Washburn believed they still had a chance to take home the trophy at the Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI National Championship. Posted on 17 Jan
Morrison's winter smallmouth recipe
Alec Morrison is all about some late-season smallmouth In the wintertime in the Northeast, there's surely a lot to be said for hanging garland or hunting deer, but the smallmouth fishing is also pretty top-notch. Posted on 3 Jan
How & why to add color shading on Lowrance graphs
Maximizing the potential of modern electronics is critical to bass fishing success In this quick tip, Matt Stefan demonstrates how to add color shading with C-MAP charts on Lowrance graphs and explains how it can be helpful for finding fish and navigating more safely. Posted on 8 Dec 2023
Top 10 baits from Lake of the Ozarks
If you want an old-school jig derby, there's probably no better place than Lake of the Ozarks With water temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s during the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Plains Division finale, the fish were definitely confused about whether to make the fall transition or not. Posted on 5 Oct 2023
20 places you should be fishing right now
Caught between summer doldrums and fall transition? Put these fisheries on your “must-fish” list Of all the months in the yearly fishing calendar, September is rightfully regarded as one of the most challenging for catching bass across the United States. Posted on 28 Sep 2023
Top 10 baits and patterns from St. Lawrence River
Top 10 mostly employing traditional techniques for the river This year's Northern Division Presented by Rabid Baits go-round on the St. Lawrence River turned out to be a close one, with the Top 10 mostly employing traditional techniques for the river. Posted on 16 Aug 2023
Minn Kota's Ultrex just got an upgrade
If it ends with a bass, it starts with Ultrex™ See why pros like Kevin VanDam are calling this “the strongest, baddest trolling motor on the planet.” Posted on 15 Aug 2023
Top 10 baits from the Mississippi River
The anglers in the field of 150 were able to exploit several different techniques to catch fish The final stop of the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals season brought the pros to Pools 7, 8 and 9 of the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the river showed out. Posted on 3 Aug 2023