By Paul MacInnis
It was 6:00 a.m. and beads of sweat were already forming on across my forehead. I was sitting in a boat at Big Toho Marina in Kissimmee surround by some of the greatest bass fishermen in the world. Soon I’d take my shot at taking them down.
Certainly the odds are against you when a saltwater guy like me is going up against top bass fishing profesionals. Still, it would be fun to try, plus I had a bit of a ringer on my side. I was fishing with FLW tour pro Jay Flositz from De Leon Springs, Florida, a man who bass fishes over 150 days a year. Joining us was Flositz’s friend Austin Anderson who runs Riviera Resort and Marina on the St Johns River in Deland.
We were fishing the ICAST Cup, a fun, four hour bass fishing tournament that is held Tuesday morning the week of ICAST. FLW teams up media folks like me with tournament professionals and fishing industry representatives. This was the third year the Cup kicked off ICAST, the largest sportfishing trade show in the world.
Each boat in the ICAST Cup had an industry sponsor who donated a minimum of $200 for the entry fee. Our boat sponsor was Complete Custom Boats of De Leon Springs (http://www.completecustomboats.com/). All the proceeds go to the
KeepAmericaFishing™ foundation, and this year’s ICAST Cup raised $14,000.
Flositz, Anderson and I took off from the marina at 6:30 and only ran five minutes to a weedy cove. I’d like to say fishing was on fire but it wasn’t. We had to grind to eke out our bites. We threw frogs, swimbaits, topwater plugs, speed worms and straight worms. All those baits caught fish, but none of them caught a lot of fish. After two hours we had our five fish limit and over the next two hours we managed to cull three of those with bigger fish.
What’s it like to fish with a couple of bass pros? Certainly there is preparation, focus, drive and ability, but a word that really sticks out in my mind if efficiency. Flositz and Anderson worked like a well-oiled team. They kept several rods sprawled about the boat. Lure changes were simply setting one rod down and picking up another. No on the water time was wasted rigging rods and tying knots. And casts were accurate and precise so no time was lost to snags or off target casts.
Anderson caught the biggest fish of our trip, a nice six pounder that anchored our limit. I caught the easiest fish, a two pounder that picked up a black Zoom worm I let drag behind the boat as we eased out of a creek.
We ended up the tournament with 12 pounds, 6 ounces which was good enough to place us 11th out of a field of 69 boats. We would’ve needed a couple more six pounders to win the tournament. First place was the U.S.A. Bassin sponsored team of Richard Patterson and Dave Smith, along with media representative, Glen Cabezas of AnglerGear.net. They brought in an impressive 20 pounds, 7 ounces.
The ICAST Cup was a winner in its own right. It is a fun little fishing tournament that kicks off a great week of activities at ICAST and raises money for a good cause.