Lane Says to Expect Giants at the Harris Chain

Published on 01-27-2021


Lane Says to Expect Giants at the Harris Chain

By Pete Robbins

The Big Bass Tour has historically started the season in Florida on the Harris Chain, and with good reason – it’s the time and the place to catch giants. In fact, in each of the past four season openers, we’ve seen multiple 10-pounders come to the scales, including four last year. In each of those events it’s taken a fish greater than 8 pounds to crack the overall top 10, and in most cases a fish under 7 won’t put you in the hunt for a top hourly prize.

Veteran Florida hammer Bobby Lane says to expect more of the same this year. With consistent warming temperatures leading up to three days of BBT competition, he believes that “they’re fixing to move up everywhere in Florida.” With the Harris Chain sitting smack dab in the middle of that zone, he expects the lake’s giants to show out.

“If there’s ever a time to get a big one in Florida this is it,” he said. “The best way to do that is to find a giant bedding bass in a canal and sit on it. The place as been on fire for a long time, and there are lots of 9-, 10-, 11- and 12-pound bass waiting to be caught.”

One of his prime areas requires a long run through multiple lakes toward Apopka, running up toward the lock. “Another set of canals that could be a player is run through Eustis, take a left towards Griffin, and they’ll be on the right, where Shaw Grigsby won a BASS event years ago,” he said. While he’d expect fish to be moving up in both, the depth range where he’d search might be different. In the canals toward Apopka there is a lot of soot on the bottom, and not a lot to spawn on toward the middle of the canals, so he’d look in the 2-3 foot range. In Griffin and Harris, on the other hand, there’s sand out to 7 or 8 feet, and big fish can set up anywhere. That’s why he believes you don’t have to be looking at them to fish for them effectively. 

Be sure to remember tournament anglers can't lock through to Apopka and that certain areas of the Emeralda Marsh are off limits as well. Read the rules to avoid any confusion.

“The easiest way to catch a big fish in Florida is The General from Berkley,” he said. “I like it Texas rigged and wacky rigged, just blind casting it in likely areas. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked hard flipping heavy braid and watched Mark Davis bring in the same weight as me with a soft stickbait. Throw it out there, hold on, and be ready.”

His preferred lure for the territorial bed fish is a Berkley Craw Fatty in either the 3.25” size or the larger 4” version, in either black blue fleck or green pumpkin. “It floats, so with a 3/8 ounce weight it just kind of hangs there a little. That makes them mad.” He fishes it on a 7’11” Abu-Garcia rod with Spiderwire braid and a 4/0 Berkley Fusion hook.

If neither of those soft plastic presentations are to your liking, Lane believes that a savvy angler can claim multiple hourly prizes by finding a fertile stretch of offshore deep eelgrass or hydrilla, and then plying it with a bladed jig (with a Berkley Grass Pig) on the back, or with a lipless crankbait like a Berkley Warpig. In fact, while he’d be likely to camp on an 11-plus-pounder if he found it in practice, he knows that they often don’t settle onto their nests until later in the day. Accordingly, he might try to chase some checks with 6- and 7-pounders early and then gamble on all the marbles later, a practical one-two punch.

Indeed, as much as any other event this season, the Harris Chain will demand strategy. With a heavy dose of idling between lakes often necessary, and the possibility that your giant will be topped with a true Florida teener, careful attention to the live leaderboard will preclude wasting time or opportunities.