- Mike Suchan, Outdoors
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The bass are plain weird in the Harris Chain of Lakes, Elite Series angler Bobby Lane said, and he has no earthly idea why they can be here today, gone tomorrow.
Expect more up-and-down days when the Bassmaster Elite Series opens its season there with the Sunshine Showdown out of Tavares, Fla., March 10-13.
"This is the best time of the year to be there," Lane said, noting the spawn is on and big fish will bite. "When they come in, they're catchable, but then they're gone.
"In that lake, they're weird. Those big fish show up two, three months and then never show up the rest of the year."
Fishing can be miles apart one day to the next as well as evidenced by the 2008 Sunshine Showdown there.
The Harris Chain disappearing act likely cost Brian Snowden, and maybe even Lane, a victory. Snowden was consistence throughout the event and led after three days before cold shut down his bite. He zeroed on Day Four and Mike McClelland's 15-0 gave him 59-2 and the victory.
Lane had two subpar days at 6-7 and 8-11 sandwiched around a tournament high 26-9 on Day Two. He finished third by less than six pounds.
"I could have" won, Lane said. "I missed a few fish that final day. That's one thing about Harris, you can be on them one day and then totally come in the next day with squat."
Lane, coming off a ninth-place finish in the Bassmaster Classic, lives about an hour away from the Harris Chain in Lakeland, Fla. He grew up fishing Lake Kissimmee, Toho and Rodmen Reservoir, and doesn't consider Harris home waters.
"If I could go right now, I'd go," he said. "They're fun to catch when the spawn is on. There's definitely some fish there for sure.
"It's still a very tough fishery. You can be in dead water for awhile. A limit is great half the time. A limit should weigh from 9 to 12 pounds and the chance of a big fish."
But soon the bigger fish will go into hiding, he said. In summer, 17 pounds a day will win an event there while other lakes in the region it takes closer to 30, making the Harris Chain one of Florida's only hit-or-miss bodies of water.
"It's really like that all year. I don't know why," Lane said. "Maybe because it's so large. There's no reason for them to go offshore. It's just a weird deal. It's one of the only lakes in Florida like that. I guess they roam around the main lake, go in canals, and do whatever they do."
The 2008 event showed the Harris Chain of Lake's big fish capabilities. Bill Lowen led the first day aided by a 10-6, the biggest fish caught in the event. With a 3-9 on Day Three, Lowen didn't make the Top 12 cut.
Besides McClellan, Lane's brother Chris was the only other angler to catch more than 10 pounds each day. Chris Lane finished fourth, ounces behind Bobby. The Lane Brothers had a good event, taking home $54,000 with big bag and big fish bonuses.
"We did," Bobby said. "That was a fun tournament. I had one really good day, and tried to stay steady after that."
Bobby also finished third in the most recent event on the Harris Chain, the 2009 Southern Open won by Bryan Hudgins with 68-6 over three days. Hudgins busted a 30-15 stringer while two others got close to 30.
"That's the neat thing about Florida lakes," Bobby said, "you know the big fish are around and you can switch gears."