After my wife and I finished up our cruise to the Bahamas last Friday, I had a chance to go out to do a little practice fishing on Lake Toho, trying to get ready for our next tournament. What I found out there was very refreshing.
For the first time in forever, I saw a lot of topped-out hydrilla with some very clean water in and around this growth. The hydrilla was a nice bright green, and the stalks were thick and firm — meaning it had yet to be sprayed. In hydrilla like this, you can generally find some giants. The trick is to spend enough time roaming through all of this beautiful vegetation to locate some fish. The good thing is that once you find them, you can rest assured they will be there for some time to come.
While I drove around looking for some bass action, I noticed that the water was extraordinarily clear. I can’t remember the last time I had the luxury of looking down in that lake and seeing far into the depths of it. It was awesome. Two years ago when we fished this lake, you couldn’t see two feet under the surface. Now, the hydrilla has filtered all the sediments out of the water and left it very clean. This is the type of water that can hold some really big bass.
Water on the Kissimmee chain of lakes is that it is currently pretty high. With two tropical storms forming off the coast of Africa, they have deemed it necessary to run out some of the water. As good as the fishing can be out in that pretty, clean water, the canal fishing is awesome as well due to water being drawn out of the lock at the south end of Lake Toho. A decision will have to be made on tournament morning: What do we decide to fish? Do we head out and take on the hydrilla with clean water? Or do we set up shop in the very familiar nooks and crannies of the canal and catch our bass there?
That decision will be made based on the wind and the weather come tournament morning. Calm waters will keep me out in the hydrilla, throwing a fluke near the thick edges. Windier conditions that will stir up the water will force me into the canals, where the moving water will bring a constant stream of things to eat in front of the bass waiting in those canals. Either way, I have options — and they are pretty good options at that.
My big concern is that I haven’t gotten a chance to spend as much time out on the lake as I would like. I know some areas that have traditionally held bass when the vegetation has topped out, and I can more than likely go to those areas and catch a limit of bass. But will they have the size that it will take to win? The moving water will bring some sizable feeding bass early in the morning. So locking through early may be the best scenario. I can always come back and fish the lake during the day when the bass will hang out in thethicker cover of the hydrilla.
While I practiced, I did notice bass breaking in the grass patches out the east wall of the lake. That was encouraging, because the depth of the water is enough that those bass can stay there throughout the day. With enough bait and shade for them in one area, they won’t be forced to look for thicker cover. They can simply slide into the thicker cover as the sun gets higher.
It will be fun to get out there and explore my options, seeing what I can do early in the morning and then again around noon. I think those will be the times that we have the best chance to get some quality bass on the line.
Either way, fishing this very clean water will be a treat. It’s been a while since I have seen the lake look this good, but I’m sure it won’t take long for the powers that be to bust out the airboats and start waging chemical warfare on this area. Hopefully, I get my bass caught before that happens.
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.