IBASSIN is your first choice for all things bass fishing. Tournaments, new lures, articles, interviews and resources centred around bass fishing.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
2020 Bassmaster Eastern Open Kissimmee Chain Day 1: Patrick Walters Leads with 21-08lbs!
Alexandre Jelev of Ontario leads co-angler By David A. Brown BASS Press Release
Big fish key during tough first day. (Photo: BASS)
Fla. — Patrick Walters, a Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Summerville, S.C., had approximately eight hours on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, but he needed less than 20% of that to catch a five-bass limit of 21 pounds, 4 ounces that gave him the Day 1 lead at the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open.
Around 10:30 a.m., Walters found himself without a keeper. But once the show started, it happened quickly.
“I caught all my fish in an hour and a half, because after 12 o’clock, I didn’t catch another fish,” he said. “I started deep, bouncing around a lot. I found a bunch of fish offshore in practice because the shallow bite wasn’t really any good. They were dropping the water, it was a full moon — there was something holding those fish back a little bit.
“Yesterday afternoon, right before we came to the meeting, I found a couple more areas where it looked like the fish had pulled up on the bed. Today, when nothing was happening out deep, I ran shallow and it happened quick.”
With a 7-13 largemouth anchoring his limit, Walters said he was targeting spawning fish, but he was not sight fishing. Rather, he was making 15-yard fan casts to promising areas.
“It was on the outside a little bit, they weren’t way in there where you’d want them to be spawning,” he said. “They were a little further out on the first actual spawning cover. The water has been warming up 2 degrees every day; it was 77 today. They’re definitely making a push. I think they’ll make an even bigger push tomorrow.”
Walters took a unique approach, targeting his fish with a Tokyo rig — a setup that has a weight suspended from the eye of a hook. This allowed him to present a traditional soft plastic in a horizontal fashion and, most importantly, with strategic precision.
“I was dragging a Zoom Zlinky (stickworm) on the Tokyo rig with an 1/8-ounce weight,” he said. “I’d throw it in there and let it sit for 30 seconds.
“The Tokyo rig keeps the bait of the bottom about 2 1/2 inches. The best thing is that it will fall vertically, whereas, if you have the worm on a Texas rig, it glides. You’re casting at a hole that’s the size of a basketball. So if the bait glides, you’re already out of the spot. When the Tokyo rig lands, it goes straight down."
Bryan New of Belmont, N.C., is in second place with 21-0. Despite breaking the 20-pound mark, New described an exasperating day devoid of consistency.
“I wanted to catch spawners and it didn’t happen, so I ended up junk fishing,” New said. “It wasn’t one thing. I caught three big ones doing three different things. You can’t just go do that and expect to catch big ones every day. I was flipping some pads and hydrilla, I caught them on a ChatterBait, a Rat-L-Trap and some on a worm.”
Joshua Stracner of Vandiver, Ala., is in third place with 19-5. His catch included an 8-11 largemouth that he caught flipping a Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver.
“I lost a 3 1/2-pounder that would have helped, but that was the only other big one I saw,” Stracner said. “I did a lot of punching mats with a big weight and I hit four or five offshore spots. I was just bouncing back and forth in Kissimmee.”
James Castillo of West Richland, Wash., is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 8-12 largemouth.
Alexandre Jelev of Ontario, Canada, leads the co-angler division with 15-7. Describing his day as slow and inconsistent, Jelev said he found his fish in a particular area of pads. He caught his fish on a 3/8-ounce Treeshaker swim jig with an X Zones Lures swimbait.
“They wanted it slow, I was dragging the swimbait through (the cover),” Jelev said.
Jelev holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass lead among co-anglers with a 6-12.
Takeoff Thursday and Friday is scheduled for 7 a.m. ET from Big Toho Marina at Kissimmee Lakefront Park. Thursday’s weigh-in will also be held at the park at 3 p.m.