Florida Central Heads To Toho With Hopes Of Big Bags
ATHENS, Ala. – The Florida Central Division 6 of the American Bass Anglers Open Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, heads to the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes for its second event of the season on Feb. 4, 2023.
The tournament runs out of Kissimmee Lakefront Park, located at 69 Lakeview Drive in the town of Kissimmee, Fla. The tournament will launch into Lake Tohopekaliga. To register for this tournament, CLICK HERE.
Better known as Toho, but also called West Toho, the 22,700-acre Lake Tohopekaliga anchors the northern section of the sprawling 100,000-acre Kissimmee Chain of Lakes south of Orlando. Shingle Creek flows into Lake Toho.
The Kissimmee River flows southward through the chain of lakes, first connecting Toho to the 5,500-acre Cypress Lake through a deep rock-lined canal with a lock. Cypress Lake connects to the 14,500-acre Lake Hatchineha. The river then flows into Lake Kissimmee. As the southernmost and largest lake in the chain, Lake Kissimmee spreads across 44,000 acres and anchors the southern end of the chain.
A perennial lunker producing powerhouse, the entire chain can deliver double-digit bass at any time. Some top the 14-pound mark. Grass dominates the entire system. Thick aquatic grass mats mark the surface in many areas. Flooded “Kissimmee” grass reeds form often ill-defined shorelines.
Many anglers flip jigs tipped with creature baits in the open pockets in the grass beds or flooded Kissimmee grass. Other anglers work frogs over the mats or punch through the thick grass patches with heavy jigs. Bladed jigs, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits worked around the grassy edges can also produce good catches.
Anglers might spot some bass bedding in early February. Look for beds in the clear waters with sandy bottoms near grassy cover in one to three feet of water. Big females stage in slightly deeper water nearby where they can access those spawning beds.
During a frosty Jan. 30, 2022, division tournament on the Kissimmee Chain, Neil R. Davis from Minneola won the Boater Division with a 5-bass tournament limit weighing 16.56 pounds. He anchored his catch with a 4.63-pounder for a 3.31-pound average. After a slow start, Davis found more action later in the day.
“I ran around and did some things early in the morning that didn’t work out,” Davis recalled. “I ran south and worked my way back to Toho where I stayed the rest of the day. I didn’t catch my first fish until 10:30 a.m. Between that time and when I came to the weigh-in, I caught another 25 bass, all punching mats.”
Eric D. Conant of Lakeland, Fla. finished fourth among the boaters with four bass going 14.02 pounds. However, he landed the tournament lunker, a 9.64-pound bucketmouth. The lunker hit a lipless crankbait.
“The big fish hit a Rat-L-Trap at about 8:30 a.m.,” Conant reported. “On the north end of Toho, I had been catching little fish. Suddenly, something big hit. When it jumped, I saw how big it was.”
In the Co-Angler Division during that chilly tournament, Ubaldo “Uby” J. Rosell from Davenport, Fla. swept the standings with a 3-bass division limit going 11.49 pounds for a 3.83-pound average. He upped his average by catching a 5.35-pound lunker, the largest bass caught by any co-angler in the event.
“We fished the northern end of Toho around offshore grass,” Rosell said. “I caught my biggest fish on a lipless crankbait first thing in the morning. I knew another spot and my boater was gracious enough to go there. I caught two 3-pounders there. One hit a Speed Worm and the other a topwater bait.”
Other hot baits in that late January tournament included flipping jigs, creature baits, swimbaits, jerkbaits ChatterBaits, and Texas-rigged worms.
The division returns to Kissimmee Lakefront Park to fish these same waters again on March 4, 2023. To register for that event, CLICK HERE.
Anglers can sign up to fish ABA Open Series divisional events and a 2-day division championship. In a Pro/Am format, boaters fishing the Open Series pay $210 in entry fees for each divisional 1-day tournament. Co-anglers pay $105 per event.
The top 20 percent of registered anglers will receive cash payouts based on the total number of entries. If at least 60 boaters enter the tournament, the Boater Division winner will receive a minimum of $5,000.
New this year, each division will hold a 2-day divisional championship after completing all four regular season events instead of a regional championship. To qualify for the divisional championship, each boater and co-angler must fish at least three 1-day divisional events. To fish a 2-day divisional championship, anglers who qualify as a boater must fish as a boater. Anglers who qualify as a co-angler must fish as a co-angler.
Also new this year, 1-day and 2-day show points will be counted differently. Previously anglers received 50 show points for a 1-day event and 100 for a 2-day event. Divisional 1-day events are now worth 250 points to the winners. Points will be awarded in 1-point decreasing increments. Contestants not weighing fish will receive last-place points minus 10.
Divisional 2-day events are worth 500 points to the winners. For all other competitors, points will be awarded in 2-point decreasing increments. For example, the second-place boater will receive 498 points and third place 496. In addition, competitors not weighing fish will receive last-place points minus 10. Points accumulated throughout the season also determine the division Anglers of the Year from both the boaters and co-anglers who fished that division.
After the 2-day championship, the top 10 boaters and the top 10 co-anglers by points will be eligible to fish the Ray Scott Championship. The 2023 Ray Scott Championship will be held April 2-7 on the Red River at Shreveport, La.
A computer randomly pairs boaters and co-anglers who will fish together in a designated tournament. The two anglers do not fish as a team. Boaters compete against boaters and co-anglers compete against other co-anglers. If an insufficient number of co-anglers sign up to participate, ABA guarantees that all boaters who wish to compete will be able to fish from their own boats.
In addition, anglers may qualify for bonus money offered by such tournament sponsors as Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, the T-H Marine Atlas Awards program and Power Pole. Anyone who qualifies for Caymas Cash rewards could receive up to $7,000 for winning any ABA Open Series event. If the winning boat carries a Mercury motor, the angler could receive an extra $1,000 in cash from Mercury Marine. See each manufacturer’s website for details, rules, and qualifications for more information on their contingency programs.
Anyone who wishes to fish an ABA event must become an ABA member. ABA members can receive discounts from some sponsors. For example, Optima Batteries will give ABA members 25 percent off and free shipping on any battery. Membership costs $35 a year, but anglers can save money by signing up for multiple years. A life membership costs $450.
For more information about this tournament, call Tournament Director Billy Benedetti at (256) 230-5632.
American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, T-H Marine, Power Pole, RT Outdoors, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression.
For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406.
This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email email@example.com.
American Fishing Tour - Latest News
AFT, Couples events March 25-26, 2023
ATHENS, Ala. – The American Bass Anglers American Fishing Tour, Presented by Caymas Boats, will hold 11 tournaments during the weekend of March 25-26, 2023.
Goodfellows Take Win on Hartwell
On March 11, 2023, the American Couples Series South Carolina Division 11 tournament, was won by Don and Martha Goodfellow of Simpsonville, SC.
Open Series Events for March 25-26, 2023
ATHENS, Ala. – Competitors in three divisions will fish American Bass Anglers Open Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, events during the weekend of March 25-26, 2023.
Top 150 Solo on Lake of the Pines April 28 and 29
ATHENS, Ala. – The Southwest Division of the American Bass Anglers Top 150 Solo Series, Presented by Caymas Boats, visits Lake O’ the Pines on April 28-29, 2023, for the second of three events this season.