The extremely hot dog days of summer are upon us here in Florida. With air temperatures approaching 100 degrees most days and water temperatures in the 90s, summertime fishing can be a challenge.
However, two weeks ago my grandpa and I stood up to the hot weather for another summertime bass tournament, held on Lake Hatchineha and Lake Cypress. The two lakes combined are made up of over 10,000 acres and are a part of the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in central Florida. We were only permitted to fish those two lakes and could not enter the other lakes in the large chain.
The day prior to the tournament, my grandpa and I headed to the boat ramp on the west side of Lake Hatchineha. We launched around daylight and headed towards the north end of the lake to fish around a creek where the water was slowly flowing. Fish were busting the surface everywhere around the creek, however, none of them would strike our lures.
We fished the around the flowing water for half an hour without success before heading to the south east end of Lake Hatchineha. There we fished around the mouth of the canal that leads into Lake Cypress. I caught a couple small bass on a jerkbait and got several other bites in the area. We also fished multiple shell bars, slowly dragging a Carolina rig around the hard bottom, but did not catch any fish in those areas.
Later that morning, we fished some isolated lily pads not far from the mouth of the canal. I caught two decent bass flipping a ZOOM brush hog around the cover before we vacated the area and began making our way back up the lake toward the boat ramp.
I landed just one more bass along some reeds on the southern shoreline before we decided to go fish a few canals close to the launch. There, I caught three small fish on a wacky rigged senko before we called it a day around 3 o’clock.
We’d caught and located a few fish, but overall, it had been a slow practice day. We weren’t overly confident in the areas we had found, but were hopeful for better results during the following day’s tournament.
The next morning, my grandpa and I were the fourth boat to take off. We headed to the south east end of Lake Hatchineha, where we’d caught a few bass the morning before. I threw an assortment of topwater baits, while my grandpa threw a chatterbait to start the day. We fished the mouth of the canal and the surrounding area for more than half an hour, but without success.
We decided to fish a line of lily pads nearby. The two of us flipped a worms and creature baits into and around the cover, but neither of us got a bite for nearly thirty minutes. Then my grandpa finally caught our first keeper around 8 o’clock. We continued fishing the pads for about an hour longer, landing one more keeper bass before relocating.
We cranked up and ran through the 2-mile canal into Lake Cypress, where found some submerged hydrilla several hundred yards off the bank. There, I caught our third keeper fish on a chatterbait. The hydrilla bite didn’t last, so my grandpa and I moved up into another canal not far away. I caught our fourth fish on a squarebill crankbait and not long after my grandpa caught our fifth keeper on a flutter spoon. We had a limit but it was small and we needed badly to get rid of our three smallest fish.
We fished our way down the canal about a quarter mile, before turning around the fishing back down the opposite side. That’s when things started going south. I picked up a solid bite on the crankbait and the fish came unbuttoned. I seen the fish flash beneath the surface, and it would’ve definitely given us a hefty upgrade.
Then, I hooked another fish that would’ve improved our weight total. As I flipped it into the boat, it came unhooked, flew towards the rear, and bounced off the back deck into the water! Having that fish in the boat and then losing it was tough.
Shortly after, I caught a small bass as we exited the canal, which gave us a small upgrade. Then, we cranked up and took the three-mile ride back into Lake Hatchineha.
We spent the next hour fishing isolated pads. My grandpa caught another fish that culled our smallest bass. Then right as we were about to move to another area, I picked up a strike and set the hook into what felt like a decent fish. However, the bass wrapped me around the cover, and I was unable to get to the fish before it came off. Yet another missed opportunity.
My grandpa and I spent thirty minutes fishing a nearby shell bar without success before heading back towards the boat ramp to fish a couple of the canals we’d fished the day before. I picked up a wacky rigged senko and quickly caught a fish that culled our smallest. Then I caught three more bass that were no help to our weight total. With just minutes to go before weigh-in, I set the hook into a better fish. My grandpa quickly netted the near three pounder just before we cranked up and quickly made our way to weigh-in.
Upon arriving back at the dock, I bagged up our fish and headed to the scales. We certainly didn’t bring in a big bag, but my grandpa and I weighed in 13 pounds, which was good enough for a 2nd place finish and a check. We maintained our lead in Outcasts Bass Club team of the year points race and look to keep it that way with just one tournament left in the regular season.
Despite the many missed opportunities that my grandpa and I had, we were fortunate to come in 2nd place. After the day we’d had, we didn’t figure we’d be anywhere near the top. Turns out most of the other anglers had a trying day as well. Always remember to stay positive even when you’re having a rough day on the water and things don’t seem to be going your way. It only takes one big bite to change an entire day or tournament!
My grandpa and I caught the majority of our fish one of two ways; in scattered lily pads and in canals. Fish were using the pads for shade and protection from the hot sun. Many of the canals provided current, which contains lots of dissolved oxygen, something fish need more of when it’s extremely hot. That makes both lily pads and canals with flowing water great areas to target during the summer months.
We used ZOOM magmun speed worms and brush hogs to catch all of our fish around the lily pads, while an assortment of wacky rigged senkos did most of the work in the canals. The best color patterns seemed to be watermelon red and june bug.
I also caught a few fish on a bone colored Rapala Shadow Rap jerkbait and a bluegill colored Strike King 1.5 squarebill crankbait in some larger canals in between Lake Hatchineha and Lake Cypress.
What Didn’t Work
My grandpa and I spent the majority of our tournament day fishing the pattern we thought could get the most bites. We spent about an hour fishing offshore, which didn’t work out as we’d hoped, but spent most of our time fishing lily pads and canals. I don’t think we made any wrong decisions as far as where we fished.
However, we unfortunately we not able to land everything that bit and it might have costs us the win. When bites are as few and far between as they were most of the day, you can’t afford to lose as many fish as we did. But sometimes, that’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. All you can do is shake it off and keep fishing.
Back to You
Thank you for reading our latest bass tournament recap. I hope it helps you realize that even on the days when things aren’t going your way, you should stay positive and keep fishing. It only takes one big bite to change a tough day!