Ultimate Bass

SWL Prostaff Larry Gaines takes Jan 26 FL Federation Nation Tournament

SWL Prostaff Larry Gaines takes Jan 26 FL Federation Nation Tournament
Larry Gaines

Larry Gaines drove about 400 miles from his home on the Florida panhandle to a Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and tournament in the central part of the state. He decided to remain there and fish the January 26 Florida Bass Federation Nation tournament on the Kissimmee Chain. It was a good thing that he did.

SWL Prostaff Larry Gaines takes Jan 26 FL Federation Nation Tournament
SWL Prostaff Larry Gaines takes Jan 26 FL Federation Nation Tournament

Larry Gaines drove about 400 miles from his home on the Florida panhandle to a Martin Luther King, Jr. parade and tournament in the central part of the state. He decided to remain there and fish the January 26 Florida Bass Federation Nation tournament on the Kissimmee Chain. It was a good thing that he did.

Members of Gaines’ bass club reported success with a Bass Pro Shop Swim Stik-O lure on pre-spawn bass, and Larry had been experimenting with this technique for a couple weeks. Larry found that fish were just moving up into spawning areas on Toho, so it seemed an ideal presentation for conditions that confronted 48 Federation Nation anglers that morning.

No more than five minutes passed after Larry dropped his trolling motor in the water when he stuck a big fish: a healthy 5.5-pound largemouth. That set the stage for the rest of the day. With a proven technique and a heavy fish already in the livewell, Larry was able to relax, take his time, and work the rig slowly and subtly like a lethargic swim bait.

The bass, he noticed, had not yet locked on any beds but were cruising the spawning area, so he covered a lot of water and kept his bait moving across the flats. Before long he boated another largemouth, this one about three pounds. Three more fish that barely lapped over the 12-inch mark followed.
During that period, Gaines hooked but lost a few more bass, and several times he’d had short strikes.

Another angler came into the protected spawning area, so about 9:15 Larry moved on, fishing his way back toward other potential spawning areas. As he did the wind picked up. A nice chop developed in an area toward the back of the flat – a textbook-perfect spinnerbait situation. Larry picked up a rod rigged with a Secret Weapon Tennessee Shad Quickstrike spinnerbait to which he had clipped tandem Indiana blades. His first cast along a reed line was rewarded with a two pounder. That allowed him to cull one of the runts he had taken earlier. Twice more he culled using the SWL spinnerbait, and then the Swim Stik-O lure produced his final keeper for the morning.

Along the way he had a few more bass hit, and a couple of real hogs, according to Larry, burrowed back into the reeds where they were able to pull off.

At weigh-in, Larry watched as competitors with lower numbers toted heavy bags of bass to the scales. His boat was number 23. As he waited, a couple of anglers’ weights were in the eleven-pound range. Larry estimated that he had close to 13 pounds in the livewell, so he wasn’t surprised when his
12.51 pounds moved him into first place. What he hadn’t expected, considering the number and quality of fish that he had missed that morning, was that his weight would hold up and that he would walk away with first place. Even more surprising to him was that his five-pound, five-ounce largemouth turned out to be the big fish for the tournament.

Gaines has another tournament in the Kissimmee Chain on Feb 9/10, and as long as a strong cold front doesn’t come in he expects the pre-spawn pattern to hold up for another couple weeks at least.



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