Christmas and its associated frenzy are over, so it’s time to get back to fishing and get ready for the upcoming tournament season. I’ve kind of taken the month off, and I’ve got a redfish trip and a trip to Alabama for some deer hunting in the two weekends between now and time to head to the Harris Chain for the first Open of the year. So there’s a bunch to get done and as usual, not much time to get it done.
I have spent some time doing my research on the Harris Chain and since I’ve been there before, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect. The first thing I have to do is prepare myself mentally for what I find to be the hardest part of fishing a tournament on the Harris Chain. If you haven’t been there, it’s just what the name implies, a chain of lakes connected by canals. What I find so challenging about that is that all these canals are no wake zones. And believe me, the Florida Game and Fish is pretty serious about “NO WAKE”. Their rule is the bow of the boat can’t lift at idle, not even a little.
So let me describe a morning take off for you. Let’s assume that I’m going to Big Lake Harris like I did the last time there. You take off in Dora, run about a mile, idle 20 minute through the canal to Eustis, run a mile and a half, idle through the dead river for 15 minutes and then you’re in Harris. The overall run is maybe 8 to 10 miles, and it takes about 45 minutes if you’re lucky. Not your normal tournament morning run, by any means. Since you have to do this twice a day, patience is the key and that’s not one of my strongest attributes. By the end of 3 tournament days on my last trip there, I felt like I’d rather get out and walk back to the weigh-in. It would certainly have been faster.
But idle zones aside, the Harris Chain is a pretty good place to hold a tournament. Even more so than most tournaments, good decision making is critical there. There are 10 lakes in the chain and each has its own characteristics, cover and patterns. Even though these 10 lakes are all connected and in a relatively small area, the fish can be at entirely different stages in each of them. It’s a lot of water to cover and with only 4 day of practice, time management will be critical.
Overall, I’m looking forward to the tournament. It’ll be good to get back on the water and I’m hoping to start the year off with a good tournament. The first one always sets the tone for the rest of the year and Harris is as good of a place to start as I could have picked. Wish me luck!
Thanks to the sponsors who make this all possible: Scoutlookweather.com, Lowrance Electronics, Phoenix Bass Boats, Costa del Mar Sunglasses, Bass Angler Magazine and Mississippi Van Lines. Without all of you, none of this would be possible.