Capt. Ethan Hamrick
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Bass Bandits Tournament: Harris Chain of Lakes February 2020

The third bass tournament of the year took place on the Harris Chain of Lakes, in Tavares, Florida. The large chain is made up of nine lakes and nearly 76,000 acres of water. It’s a large body of water, offering many ways for anglers to catch fish. Fish can be caught both deep and shallow, in the main lake and in the many canals across the fishery.


My grandpa and I had one day to pre-fish the fishery and try our best to locate some bass. Cold conditions made fishing tough and the wind made it difficult to effectively fish any main lake cover that wasn’t protected.

Two hours after we launched on practice morning, I caught two small bass in a set of canals on a hard jerkbait. However, that pattern didn’t last, so we relocated to a different canal system on another lake where the water had good visibility.

There, we spotted a few fish on beds and several other bass cruising the bank along the canal. We even seen one fish that appeared to be in the eight- or ten-pound range, a true giant bass. We caught a couple of small bass before vacating the area and looking for more fish elsewhere. We would definitely be returning to those canals the following day.

My grandpa and I headed down the lake to fish some boat docks protected from the wind. I skipped a swim jig underneath the structures and probed the grass next to them.

Strike King Tour Grade Swim Jigs Bait (Black Blue)

Twenty minutes passed before I made a long cast towards some shallow grass. As I swam my bait back through the cover, a solid bass slammed it and I fought a near four pounder to the boat. On the very next cast I threw back to the same spot and caught a two pounder.

Caught on Strike King Rage Craw (Black Blue)

I quickly marked our location using our Lowrance GPS and we continued down the shoreline. We planned to hit this patch of grass during the tournament as well.

We fished several more hours that afternoon without another strike before calling it a day. It hadn’t been a very good practice, however, we’d located a few bass and had an idea of where to start the next day.

Tournament Day

The following morning, my grandpa and I began our day fishing in the set of canals where we’d seen several bass the day before. The sun wasn’t high yet, so we couldn’t see the fish. However, we knew where a lot of the beds were and just blind casted to them. I got two bites, but unfortunately, lost both fish. Thirty minutes later, the two of us vacated the canal and said we would come back to it later in the day.

We then sped over to a point where we’d seen a couple of bass boats fishing the day prior. There was a lot of submerged grass covering the bottom across the point, creating an excellent area for bass to hang out.

I picked up a Carolina rigged senko and made a long cast over the vegetation. As the bait was falling, a bass inhaled the worm and I quickly brought our first keeper in the boat. On my very next cast, another bass struck the worm on the fall and I landed our second keeper.

After that, the bite stopped and we didn’t get another strike on the point. We cranked up and headed down the lake to a bank lined with boat docks and grass.

Twenty minutes passed before I caught a two pounder around some grass on a chatterbait. Fifteen minutes later, as I brought the chatterbait through some more submerged grass in between two docks, a nice fish slammed the bait. I carefully fought a three-and-a-half-pound bass into the boat to give us four keepers.

Half an hour later, the wind picked up and began blowing hard against the bank we were fishing. We decided to run over to the over side of the lake where it was much calmer. It was over an hour and a half before I finally caught our fifth keeper bass around some lily pads on a chatterbait.

Two hours and no more bites later, my grandpa and I headed back to the point I’d caught the first two fish at. There, we only caught one bass that was barely big enough to cull our smallest fish.

The two of us spent the last hour of competition in the canal we’d begun the day in. I skipped a wacky rigged senko under the boat docks in the canal. The fourth dock I skipped my bait under, a big fish inhaled the lure. I set the hook and battled the fish out from under the structure. I fought it to the boat and my grandpa netted the nearly five pound bass.

This fish gave us an upgrade of over three pounds and boosted our total weight. With fishing time running out, we knew we most likely still needed one more big bite. However, we never got it. We had a twenty minutes boat ride back to the ramp and were forced to call it a day.

We ended up weighing in a total of thirteen pounds of bass and finished in 5th place of 16 boats. It obviously wasn’t what we were after, but given the conditions and our little knowledge of the Harris Chain, I’ll take it. We still learned a lot of valuable information and are looking forward to the next tournament.

What Worked

We caught fish on a variety of lures and a variety of techniques at the Harris Chain. I caught a few on a swim jig, a senko and a jerkbait.

However, the pattern that seemed to work the best on tournament day was the Z-Man Chatterbait paired with a Strike King Rage Swimmer as a trailer. It’s great bait to fish through all the submerged grass on the Harris Chain and produced some of the best fish we caught.

Z-Man Original ChatterBait

In addition, a wacky rigged senko was another bait that worked well and was the lure I caught our biggest fish on. It’s an excellent bait for skipping underneath boat docks and for targeting bedding bass.

What Didn’t Work

We spent too much time running around the lake, fishing water we knew nothing about. We should’ve spent more time in the canals where I caught the five pounder at the end of the day and where we knew a lot of bass were congregating. That was the biggest mistake we made this tournament.

I believe that more time in those canals could’ve potentially produced another big bite or two and things would’ve ended differently for us. But, we learn something every time we compete and will improve upon it.

Back to You

Thank you so much for reading the latest tournament recap. I hope these tips help you catch more bass the next time you’re out on the water this spring.

If you compete in tournaments, feel free to leave a comment down below. Let us know what lakes you’re fishing and how well you’ve been doing. As always, happy fishing and keep your hooks wet!


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