O.T.B. LakeBigBass.com The Harris Chain Plus

(Click on any pics to enlarge) O.T.B. = Outside The Bubble

Three years ago FLW pro angler Tim Frederick, who won the 2018 opener at the Big “O” and who’s also sponsored by Lake County Tourism, handed me a fistful of LakeBIGBass.com stickers. If you’ve not visited the web site, may I suggest you do so. There’s an abundance of information. Did you know the state record for largemouth was 17.27 lbs? How about a black crappie that weighed 3.83 lbs that was 14″ in length. Restaurants & ramp locations are listed along with some Trophy Catch recipients.

(L) Here’s Rick Cope, from Umatilla, with a hollowbody toad bass that he caught. Cope said that the 7.4 lb bass was the largest of his 5 that gave him a win during a Greybeards Tournament on Aug 30th while fishing Lake Griffin.

Nick Cope, Rick Copes son, out did dad when he caught a 2.4 lb peacock bass. No this wasn’t caught locally…but came from canals near Del Ray Beach some 3 1/2 hrs south of here.  I sure wish they’d survive farther north but these fish have to have WARM water year round. I’ve never caught any but if you’ve ever seen them on tv they annihilate a topwater lure. Gorgeous is an understatement. Dad said it was very slow the day they were there and used shiners to catch their fish. WTG Nick.

Wayne Barksdale hoists a nice 6.3 lb fish that he’d caught on stickbaits while at Griffin on Aug 14. Fortunately for the fish, Barksdale is on the mend for a tune-up on his knee….but beware….Barksdale will be on the water seeking vengeance before the end of September. Also FFC member Stan Lippian contacted me saying that he’d caught an 8.73 lb bass while dragging creature baits in 8′ of water. The fish have positioned themselves deep to escape the heat. On one of my recent outings the surface temp was 91.3 deg. The swimming pools in The Villages are set to be 81-83. Water temps in the 90’s feels like bath water.

Above I’m holding a 4.14 & 4.5 that I’d caught at Griffin on Aug 26 while dragging a speedcraw thru eel grass & hydrilla. And yes these were caught during the heat of the day. Normally…. you find the cover….you’ll find the fish. Look above at the baits pictured. And yes that is/was a crappie. Little guy was floating. I’d seen a cormorant cruising around and the crappie/speck may have met him by mistake. That top bait, a squarebill, has really shown itself in deeper water ripping it off of vegetation. While most throw lipless rattle type baits, try a squarebill instead. Don’t be surprised if you snag a couple. The only thing I dislike about crankbaits is that if the fish jumps, many times the bait goes one way & the fish the other.

Here’s some scores from some recent outings I’ve participated in. Don’t laugh…it could have been you. This was on Aug 21 while I was visiting a friend in KY, we fished a tournament along the Ohio River. The massacre was like this: 22 anglers, 14 fish caught, 1st place 3.36  lbs….and that was 1 fish….Big Bass was 3.36 lbs….Nobody caught a 5 fish limit….actually nobody else brought in any more than 2 fish at a time. I blanked. Imagine that. Got to see many of old friends….it was worth it.

Don Millich caught this 4.9 lbr while the bass were schooling. I wasn’t even getting bit and had thrown multiple baits that I’d had out on the deck. Millich caught his on a trickworm – I believe. As fast as they showed themselves – they disappeared. Fish was extremely skinny too.

Back in the 80’s & 90’s I fished with a great angler & friend by the name of Wayne Hutson of Dayton, OH. Wayne and I fished a hundred tournaments or more over the years throughout OH, KY, & IN losing most but winning a few. I think our most memorable event was on July 4, 1997 while fishing the Ohio River out of Tanners Creek downstream from Cincinnati. Dog days of summer were in full bloom. It was FL weather all the way, river barges, huge yachts, jet skies, etc….We ran 60 miles to the Markland Dam and decided to fish our way back. Some 9 hours later we get back to the starting point with a limit of fish. I can’t remember the weight but we had Big Bass & came in 2nd. The grand prize was a fully rigged Ranger Boat….and you didn’t even have to catch a fish to win it. Florida professional angler Jim Bitter, of Bitters Baits,  pulled the ticket out of a bag and called out my name – Steve Henderson. I won’t write on here what I said but you get the idea. I was shocked. Wayne was shocked. In the months to follow, because it was a buddy tournament and we both had bass boats, we sold the boat and split the money. Wayne blew his on toys, tackle, whatever….I invested mine in tech stocks & lost my BEEhind. Such is life. Anyway while visiting family in Dayton, OH in August, I made it a point to swing by the old tackle store I used to patronize in Dayton called Fishermans HQ and wouldn’t you know it my old friend Wayne Hutson was there. We spent several hours catching up on the past and laughed amongst all who’d listen. Sadly Wayne told me that he hasn’t fished in 2 years. He’s dealing with family illnesses. Been there done that….it’s a caregivers worst dream seeing your love ones helpless. I pray that none of you have to go through the heartbreaking agony….and I know some of you already have. There’s a special place in heaven for you.

I was supposed to fish a tournament on Sep 11 at Panasoffkee. The tournament director moved the location to Lake Rousseau due to high water at Lake Pan. The ramp area at Tracy’s Point is always a hassle but….is what it is. The lake allegedly is up 3′ or more than it was this time last year. And we haven’t had a hurricane….yet!

There’s several areas on the Harris Chain that will be sprayed to reduce the spread of hydrilla. I’ve said before on here that Little Lake Harris is the worst I’d ever seen it. It is on the list. Go to the FWC web site to stay informed on when & where the spraying will occur.

Remember the 2996 souls who lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

God Bless America

Steve Henderson

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