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Morgenthaler wins the first BASS Southern Open on Lake Toho

Toho Win for webWhat a way to start the year! I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted to win a high-level event. In late 2013 I won the Bassmaster Wild Card to qualify for the 2014 Bassmaster Classic, and that just whetted my appetite for bigger things. Now, by winning the first B.A.S.S. Open of 2015, and thereby becoming the first qualifier for the 2016 Classic, I feel that I’m really starting to show that I can compete anywhere, anytime, against anyone, and have a fighting chance to come out on top.

This wasn’t an easy tournament for anyone, as you can see by all of the top sticks who had one good day and then struggled on the next. Most people said it couldn’t be won in Toho. I disagreed and while everyone else bumped boats in the locks, I stayed in the first lake and did what I do best – flip heavy grass.

During the course of my practice, I came to the realization that Toho was where I’d fish throughout the tournament. It was clean from one end to the other and the vegetation looked good everywhere. I spent some time in Kissimmee and thought that I could cut a check there, but it didn’t have the consistent big fish potential of Toho. After a 30 pound day in tough conditions, my mind was made up that I’d live and die in the upper lake.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Florida in recent years, and I’ve learned that you have to focus on several main things this time of year. First of all, are the fish bedding? That doesn’t mean you’ll sight fish for them, but it tells you where to look. Or are they offshore, like when Gerald Swindle won on the shell beds? Finally, are they coming and going from shallow areas? Toho is usually the last lake in the chain for the fish to move up. They still like to go shallow, but at this time of year there are typically a few more pre-spawners there than in the other lakes. It’s also critical to watch the wind – that’s what killed my chances two years ago, when I didn’t look out for it and many of my best places got blown out.

During practice, it’s all about keeping the lake honest, making sure that no likely pattern escapes your attention. I quickly learned that the offshore bite wasn’t happening and that while there weren’t a tremendous number of big fish up shallow, I could get a big bite here and there. I gradually learned that most of the fish were in transition – not shallow, not out in the open – and over time I revealed little pieces of the puzzle by checking out different areas and different types of vegetation. The important connection was that every place I got a good bite had clumps of hydrilla connected to the bottom. read more…

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Content

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  • Winner winner chicken dinner! -

    It’s hard to describe what I was feeling holding that trophy up high, knowing I just won the first event of the season and punched my ticket to the 2016 Bass Master Classic. It was a tremendous since of satisfaction knowing that I put together a solid plan, adapted to conditions and did not succumb to pressure.  It was 13-years worth of handwork in the making. Just a magical moment.

  • Day 1 -

    Today was a short day, which can be my nemesis, but I landed a good sack 16-7 lb sitting in 12th place. No Toho size big bites for me today, so I hope to land a couple tomorrow & stay within the top-12 cut.  I’m due in at 5:00 est.

  • I love Florida Lakes!! -

    The Classic practice is over so I headed to one of my favorite Florida lakes, Toho.  I decided to start practice for the first BASS Southern Open a little early. The vegetation is not where I would like it to be, but I’m going to remain open minded and see what I can find. I know the big Toho toads are out there & I’m going to find them.

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  • Pro Tips

    High Falling Water.....

    The newly submerged foliage is a bait fish magnate, especially for crawdads. Bait fish love the nutrients and the protection that it provides. ............read more

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