Terry Scroggins, Tom Hamlin and Brent Long will shift gears from Lay Lake to the Kissimmee Chain in pursuit of the $56,000 top prize, which includes a state-of-the-art Triton/Mercury rig. They will be joined in the field of 200 boaters and 200 co-anglers by four Bassmaster Elite Series pros: Marty Stone, Preston Clark, Charlie Hartley and Chris Lane.
The weigh-in and launch will take place at Camp Mack on the shores of Lake Kissimmee in Lake Wales. But the Southern pros will also be able to scour lakes Tohopekaliga, Cypress and Hatchineha in search of the five biggest bass each day. On the final day (Saturday), the field will be reduced to the top 30 pros and co-anglers.
Depending on the weather, the participating anglers could enjoy some strong fishing action.
“I think there’s going to be some good weights caught because the fish are going to be feeding up just coming off of the bed,” said Clark, the Florida pro who set the Classic record with a 11-pound, 10-ounce bass the last time BASS came to the Kissimmee Chain in February of 2006.
“I think a lot of the fish have already spawned and it’s going to be a postspawn deal. I think there will still be a few bedding fish, but the majority of the fish will be done. I’m thinking it’s going to take close to 70 pounds to win. I think it’s going to be really good.”
Longtime Kissimmee Chain expert and guide Terry Segraves is less enthusiastic about the fishing prospects during the tournament because of the recent weather trend in central Florida that has included repeated cold fronts.
“It all depends on the weather,” the former Classic qualifier said. “If it warms up we’ll catch them, but right now everything’s pretty churned up and unstable.
“The bass haven’t moved up yet, but if we get the right weather conditions and it warms up, we could hit it right. There’s plenty of fish still left to spawn. A few have spawned, but there’s still a lot of them left to go.”
With stable weather, Segraves predicts the winner will average 17 to 18 pounds a day.
Over the last couple of winters, no Florida lake has surrendered more 10-pound-plus bass than Lake Kissimmee, which had taken a backseat to Toho after Dean Rojas’ record-breaking 45-pound-plus five-bass stringer in a 2001 BASS tournament and the massive restoration project there. Many of the trophy-class bass that were caught during last February’s Classic — including Clark’s 11-pound, 10-ounce record fish — came out of Lake Kissimmee.
Weigh-ins will be at 2:45 p.m. at Camp Mack. The morning launches, which are also out of Camp Mack, will start at 6:45 a.m.
BASS anglers who want to participate in the most Elite-level of tournament fishing will have two avenues to reach that goal in 2007. The new, revamped Bassmaster Opens feature two divisions, the Southern and Central, which will serve as feeder systems into the Bassmaster Elite Series and bass fishing’s world championship, the Bassmaster Classic.
In all, each division will host three events with the top three points finishers from each of the Open Series qualifying for the 2008 Bassmaster Classic and the top five points finishers from each division qualifying for the 2008 Bassmaster Elite Series.
The 2007 Bassmaster Southern Open at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes will be hosted by Polk County Sports Marketing.
Sponsors of the event include Toyota Tundra, Triton Boats, Mercury Marine, Purolator, Berkley, Advance Auto Parts, Lowrance Electronics and MotorGuide.
BASS is the worldwide authority on bass fishing, sanctioning more than 20,000 events through the BASS Federation Nation annually. Guided by its mission to serve all fishing fans, BASS sets the standard for credibility, professionalism, sportsmanship and conservation, as it has for nearly 40 years.
BASS stages bass fishing tournaments for every skill level and culminates with the Bassmaster Classic. Through its clubs, youth programs, aquatic resource advocacy, magazine publishing and multimedia platforms, BASS offers the industry’s widest array of services and support to its nearly 530,000 members. The organization is headquartered in Celebration, Fla.
For more information, contact BASS Communications at (407) 566-2208 or visit www.bassmaster.com.