EDITOR: It is probably embedded in the fisherman’s DNA, the need to compete, to test one’s skills against a field of excellent anglers. The format of the Bassmaster Eastern Open Series builds on that- 200 plus anglers from up and down the Eastern seaboard and into the Midwest- including pro anglers who fish the Elite Series events. Along with the 200 plus boaters come a like number of co-anglers many of whom have done well in their own right in smaller regional events. What made Jonathan Mickler’s first B.A.S.S. event even more difficult was the weather. Here are Jonathan’s reflections on the Harris Chain event:
I headed over to the Harris Chain with my boat on Monday morning to fish the official practices. Monday was extremely cold for this area with temperatures in the low 30’s. It was also very windy- all day. I fished mostly Lake Harris where I’ve had some nice previous catches. The bite was very slow- minimal. I found fish offshore at the north end but couldn’t get them to eat anything. The fish that I did catch came on a lipless crankbait and a jerkbait.
Tuesday I regrouped and headed down to Little Harris after studying my Navionics maps the night before. I fished the points that I had marked, but was unsuccessful. The winds with gusts upward of 30 mph made it very difficult to fish those areas and stay on the structure. The event was originally scheduled for the 24th -26th. The full field would fish the 24th and 25th, and the top 12 fishing for the championship on 26th. The bad weather continued to plague the area and the first day was cancelled due to a severe storm. The event was changed to a two-day full field event with
final weigh in on Saturday. To add insult to injury, another cold front moved through after the storm, making for a very cold first day- 38 degrees with 20 mph gusts.
As a co-angler, you are at the mercy of the draw, and I was paired with an angler that had never
fished in Florida. Like mine, his practice days did not go well. Being his call, he chose to fish shorelines. Between the two of us, even though we caught more, only one fish was legal. From the comments at the weigh-in, it seemed the anglers who put together good bags got them offshore.
Day 2 started off the same- cold and windy with cloudy skies. This time I was paired with 2018 FLW Rookie of Year Matt Becker. We fished offshore all day where he was able to catch his limit. Unfortunately, all my fish were short. despite not weighing any fish, I had an awesome experience fishing with this
Pro- one of the nicest guys you would ever want to fish with.
In the end it was a great experience, I learned a lot and was able to clarify weaknesses needing work- particularly the art of cold weather fishing. I guess when you live in Florida and don’t have that much cold
weather it is easy to stay home those days and not challenge yourself. But challenging yourself is really what competitive angling is all about. So from now on, no cherry picking my fishing days, I need to fish the conditions that are dealt to me, even if it means getting out in really bad conditions just to be better prepared. Good lessons. Somebody said it is not how many times you get knocked down, it is how many times you get back up and get back in the game. I am all in, the next tournament is also on the Harris Chain, The Bass Pro Big Bass Tour in two weeks. I will give it everything I have.