Multiple Ways to Catch Harris Chain Giants Right Now

Monday, January 20, 2020

Multiple Ways to Catch Harris Chain Giants Right Now

By Pete Robbins

Veteran pro Chad Morgenthaler may call Missouri home, but he’s spent ample time in Florida over the years and it has been the site of his two B.A.S.S. victories. The Lew’s/Strike King pro is deadly any time there’s shallow vegetation, and he’s done a good job of paying his mortgage with Florida checks, so when he says that the Harris Chain is about to explode, it pays to listen – and that’s his prediction for the upcoming Big Bass Tour tournament being held there from February 7-9.

“It’s setting up to be an absolute slugfest,” he said two weeks before the event. “We’re having a cold front right now, which will cool the water, but it will warm back up with the full moon and they’re going to hit it just about perfect.”

The beautiful thing, he added, is that there won’t be a solitary means to win the event. “They don’t all spawn at the same time, so while I expect a tremendous flooding of spawning fish, there will also be a lot of them in a major prespawn feeding mode.”

Nevertheless, he’d start off by looking for a giant fish up shallow. If you know the weight that you’ll need to win, and you can see her with your own eyes, that takes some of the guess work out of the process. He’d try to tempt her with a creature bait and said he’d “mess around with colors until I get a reaction.”

There should also be some prespawn bass setting up around heavy vegetation. For those, he’d employ a ¾ or 1 ounce jig, dropping it in holes in the grass or punching it through where that’s not possible. He’d most likely use a black and blue model with a large trailer like a Rodent or Rage Craw, but there are times when a green pumpkin jig will out fish that first choice. He said that he’d pair that with something like the Strike King “blue craw” color, which is green pumpkin with a hint of blue.

The third pattern in play would be open water fish, which is a way to catch numbers, but also the occasional tournament winner. A Strike King Redeye Shad lipless crankbait allows him to make long casts for these fish while employing a variety of triggering retrieves, but he’d also keep a 4.75” Rage Swimmer on the deck to mix it up.

“One other really nice thing is that every lake in the chain has possibilities, including the river,” he added. “It’ll take a little bit of time to figure out the various stages, but I’d expect Harris and Little Harris to be more about the open water bite. Eustis should be both spawning fish and open water fish. And Griffin and the river should have fish in all three stages.”

It’ll be important for competitors to avoid getting sidetracked by traditional “tournament grade” fish if they want to take top honors. In four of the past five years it has taken at least a 10-pounder to win the overall event, and the last three years have produced two double-digits apiece. In fact, the last three years no fish under 8 pounds squeezed into the top 10, and in each of those events there has been at least one 9-pounder that didn’t make the overall top five. It’s critical to pay attention to the live leaderboard, because while smaller bass can take hourly prizes, it generally takes giants to compete for the big prizes.