BASS Pros Agree: Harris Chain is Different

Leesburg, Fla. – Coming off the CITGO Bassmaster Tour event on central Florida’s Lake Tohopekaliga, you’d think that moving just up the road to the Harris Chain of Lakes would present few challenges for the best bass anglers in the world. After all, they’re both central Florida bodies of water and only a week has passed.

Of course, you’d be wrong.

When the CITGO Bassmaster Tour hits the Harris Chain, Feb. 3-6, the pros seem to be expecting the unexpected.

“The key to Florida fishing is a steady weather pattern,” said New Jersey pro and police lieutenant Dave Mansue. “We’re hoping there will be a lot of fish in transition – pre- and post-spawn fish. If we hit them right – on the beds – then there should be some big weights.”

Mansue knows a thing or two about big Florida bass. He took top honors in the Purolator Big Bass contest at Toho with a nine-pound, four-ounce largemouth that fell for a weightless stickworm.

Some big bass will certainly make their way to the scales this week, but that may be all that links the Harris Chain to the fishing the pros found at Toho.

David Walker of Sevierville, Tenn., who finished second last week on Toho, summed things up when he said, “The Harris Chain is in Florida, but that’s about all it has in common with other Florida lakes.

“Everything just seems to be different there,” Walker added. “The water color is different, the vegetation fishes differently and the wind is always a factor – there are very few protected areas where you can get away from it.”

Walker has done well on the Harris Chain, finishing 16th in last year’s Tour event. He plans to fish his strengths and look for a flipping and pitching pattern, but acknowledges that anything from sight-fishing to Carolina rigging could carry the event.

“I’m hoping to hook my fish on a short line and with a single-hooked bait,” Walker said of his flipping and pitching preference. “That’s the surest way to catch the big fish that might be needed to do well.”

Arkansas’ Ron Shuffield took fourth place at Toho and agrees that the Harris Chain fishes much differently.

“A lot more methods open up for fishing on the Harris Chain,” said the 13-time Classic qualifier. “There will some flipping and pitching, some lipless crankbaiting, some spinnerbait action and some sight-fishing.”

Shuffield was the only pro who would hazard a guess at what it might take to do well on the Harris Chain this week.

“I think it’ll take 12 or 13 pounds a day to make the cut,” he said.

After two days of fishing, the field will be cut to 12 anglers for the third day and then down to six anglers for the final round.

One angler who made the first cut last year is defending Classic champion Takahiro Omori, who won last week’s Tour opener on Lake Toho and hopes to make it two Tour events in a row at the Harris Chain.

With the extreme modesty that’s become his trademark, Omori acknowledged that Harris and Toho are remarkably different bodies of water despite their proximity and said, “All I can do is my best.”

Lately, that’s been good enough.

BASS is the world's largest fishing organization, sanctioning more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide through its Federation. The CITGO Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest and most prestigious pro bass fishing tournament circuit and continues to set the standard for credibility, professionalism and sportsmanship as it has since 1968.

Sponsors of the CITGO Bassmaster Tour include CITGO Petroleum Corp., Toyota, Busch Beer, Purolator, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Berkley, Lowrance Electronics, MotorGuide, Bass Pro Shops and Cialis (tadalafil).

Local Sponsors include Leesburg Chamber of Commerce.

For more information, contact BASS Communications at (334) 551-2375 or visit