Close But No Cigar…
What Started off as another sultry July Florida morning morphed into a bittersweet memorable assault on some Lake Toho Bass. I spent the early morning hours of this July morning traveling to Big Toho with T. Brinks to catch a ride with our respective angling teams. Tyler is a longtime fishing friend that I enjoy catching up with every year at ICAST. He has effectively dedicated his life to bass fishing. His hard work and dedication with multiple facets of this sport doesn’t not go unnoticed.
Once at Big Toho Marina, I was greeted by the familiar grin of David Smith and Richard Patterson already in the water prepping for the morning ahead. David was dialing in his Lowrance electronics on his brand spanking new 2022 Phoenix 921 Elite. A modern day dream bass fishing rig adorned with a Four Stroke Mercury 250 Pro XS, Lowrance Ghost Trolling Motor, twin Power Pole Blades and Charge unit, as well as, four 12″ Lowrance Live units, including one with the new Lowrance Active Target technology. I’ve seen Garmin’s ultra-hot Panoptix Livescope in action before and was curious to see how this latest release from Lowrance stacked up against the competition.
Catching up with this pair is always a blessing for me as I cherish the small amount of time I get to spend with them every July. We were all blessed to have won an ICAST Cup back in 2017 and will forever be linked to each other and this storied Lake. During that 2017 ICAST Cup event I had dubbed Dave, “The Hammer”, for his cool and composed execution at dialing us in on his prime fishing areas to load the boat with 20+ pounds of Lake Toho meat. There is a certain “zone” fishermen can often find themselves in. I personally find it comes from knowing that what you’re doing is working or going to work and your game plan is solid. The only way to really reach this level of confidence is to spend countless hours on the water. I could already tell from his body language that David was “in the zone” this morning.
Richard is a retired family man that lives the dream in Florida in pursuit of largemouth bass. He’s probably forgotten more about bass fishing than I ever will know. His general style laid back, yet all together very serious, constantly assessing weather, and water conditions.
Together this duo brings and interesting on the water dynamic that I enjoy being a guest of.
After sharing a few laughs and partaking in the MLF morning rituals we were off into Big Toho…
…The morning action started off quick. Much like past events targeting isolated schools offshore was the name of the game. The predominant key for success is obviously knowing how they’re positioned and if they’ve moved on from your waypoints.
David wasted no time hooking into a school relating to a shell bed. “I can see them still on Active Target”. I took note of his fascination with his new front of the boat tool/toy. Further discussion proved insightful. While he couldn’t always see the fishing following his baits. This tool was showing some very important immediate feedback that 1. the school of bass was still in the area and 2. they were actively chasing bait.
Action remained fairly intense for the next hour or so. All I can recall is those fish were eating and we were catching and netting fish on a variety of baits including shaky head worms, jerk baits, and an amalgam of Texas rigged soft plastics. By 8:30 or so we were definitely pushing 20+lbs in the well. As the action slowed and laughs continued, I was glad to see Rich enjoying a mid morning cup of fruit. Surely a welcome treat as the morning temps and humidity quickly climbed into the high 80s. A few more fish were caught after that but none equal to what was in that initial school. Sure enough, I didn’t see the Lowrance Live Unit showing the Active Target Transducer picking up with activity like it was earlier in the morning.
The Cup weigh in was a blur for this sleepless angler, but when the fish hit the scales, we were all very happy to see 25 pounds even. Given the short 4-hour window 25lbs is a fairly solid weight on Toho. But alas, team Lucky Go Fishing came in and threw down 25lbs 10oz to break Cup records and break our hearts for a repeat chance at tasting victory. Thats fishing. The quintessential “When it’s your time it’s your time” creeps into your head once again.
As for the 2021 ICAST Cup it was not meant to be this year, for this trio.
Big Congrats to Terrie Huffmaster, Tonya Michelle, and their knowledgeable guide Jackson Williams for their awesome performance. It takes a lot of work and dedication to put a bag of fish like that together.
On to the next one…