Hungry for the Harris Chain

After a cold start at Lake Guntersville, I got my mind back on track by practicing as much as possible before heading to Lake Travis. Practice fishing is important to me because it’s a chance to do what I love and to improve my game without any pressure.

Once I got to Texas, I noticed the water in Lake Travis was up about 50 feet higher than previous years. I knew the buck brush that was once exposed would now be flooded along the banks, which would help me with the shallow bite I prefer. A gradual warming trend was also occurring, and these two factors together are my perfect storm.

As a sight-fisherman, I know warming trends bring fish back to the shallow banks. Each time I was out practice fishing, the Texas warming trend and the flooded buck brush felt better and better leading up to the start of the tournament.

On the last day of practice, I was pitchin’ the brush along the banks and yanked an 8- to 9-pounder out that really got me excited. Using my MB903 7-foot, 6-inch Casting Rod with a Lew’s Custom Pro, I was pitchin’ a 1/2-ounce jig from Dirty Jigs on 15-pound-test fluoro, and it was working out great.

Needless to say, I had some really awesome practice sessions targeting the bass that were approaching the banks. Ideally, this warming trend would’ve continued, and I could’ve pounded the banks of Lake Travis to a win, but the weather took an unlucky turn on day one. I knew my strategy was in trouble when I walked outside and saw there was frost lining the top of my trusty Crestliner PT 20.

Although the warming trend was just beginning to coax those bass up to the bank for bedding, this cold snap on start day quickly forced fish back to the depths. Just like that, my practice success and tournament plans were turned upside down. Instead of bass bites, it looked like I was heading for frostbite.

I remember everyone was scrambling to put together a new game plan after the sudden temperature change, but I still hoped warmer weather would return in the afternoon. As the day continued, the weather warmed up enough that I returned to the banks lined with flooded buck brush with hopes of finding some big ol’ bedding bass.

Flippin’ into the buck brush, I had a few bites, but none like I had in practice. I have a tendency to be a bit hardheaded at times, and if you can imagine, I can’t admit this without a huge grin on my face. More often than not, I catch some of my best fish coming off of beds. This time I was stuck on that bed-fishing bite, and instead it bit me.

On my last day of fishing, I knew the conditions had gotten the best of me once again, however, I refused to stop fishing shallow and switched up my rods. Throwing a ChatterBait with my MB873 7-foot, 3-inch Casting Rod, I caught two decent keepers right before my final weigh-in to salvage the day.

Despite making a huge leap in standings from 135th at Lake Guntersville to 51st at Travis Lake, I know there is a lot of work left to right the ship. Leaving Texas and driving home to Florida, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had psyched myself out again, so I decided to make a few stops.

The best stop I made was at the Bienville Plantation, where I caught some real giants. I capped the day off with a 10-pounder that certainly brought a smile to my face. Shaking off another tough FLW event isn’t easy, but there is nothing like hooking a monster bass to get my mind right moving forward.

Up next, I’m back home in Florida on the Harris Chain, and that has me hungry for the top spot. Harris is a special place for me because I’ve been fishing it since I can remember. I’m ready to get rollin’ in the Sunshine State.

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