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Boat Draw and Decision Making Will Be Paramount

Posted by stephen on March 19, 2014

St._Johns_Pic.jpgHere we are again at the St. John's River in Palatka, Florida for the second stop of the 2014 Bassmaster Elite Series season.  We've got to fish the St. John's a couple time in the past, but I don't think it will be an advantage this week; at least for me.  After doing well at Lake Seminole last week I am definitely looking to keep riding that momentum as far as it will take me.  As I mentioned before sight fishing tournaments aren't necessarily my favorite type to fish, but at least at Seminole I was able to catch some the way I wanted to.  That may also be the case here on the St. John's this week as well.

 

(Photo: Steve Bowman)

 There are fish on beds, but with the heavy rains and tannic colored water, it's been difficult to find a ton of sight fish.  The ones that are visibile will be accessible to most of the angler's in the field and boat draw will mean everything.  I expect that there could be upwards of thirty boats in at least one major bedding area which may be enough to keep me from going there.  I've never liked to fish in a crowd, especially sight fishing, but if I get an early draw it could be an option.  The real dilemma to me is, do I sight fish and bump elbows with everyone, or do I try and just "go fishing" and try and make that work.

The first day I hit the water I managed to get fifteen bites, which was a huge upgrade from the Seminole event.  Unfortunately, the quality really wasn't there.  As I mentioned before, I have seen fish on beds, but I have also seen a lot of beds that are empty.  I think the weather beings the way it has could be the culprit.  Looking at the forecast for the tournament we are looking at some nicer weather in the 80s which should help the bite.  These Florida fish, moreso than other strains of bass, love that sun and heat.

After running the numbers, I think it is going to take somewhere in the 22 lb range for two days to crack the top 50 and around 42-43 lbs to make the top 12 after three days of competition.  Anytime we go to Florida, there is a few guys that whack some big bags, while most fall into that 10-14 lb range.  The value of a big bedding fish everyday can be the difference in making the final day or going home early.  I will really need to fish clean this week and make sound decisions.  Practice overall was tough for me, but anything can happen on tournament day.  I just hope I can find a couple of those big girls each day to give myself a chance to do well here and keep this thing rolling in the right direction. -SB