Florida will Host Top Bass Tournaments in 2015 for B.A.S.S. & FLW Outdoors
Central and South Florida will play host to three major bass tournaments in early 2015 by the country's two richest bass tournament circuits.
On Jan. 15-17, the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society (BASS) will open its Southern region Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Open series on West Lake Toho at Kissimmee. Known as the Southern Open #1, it will be part of a three-region, nine-tournament series spanning nine states in nine months.
Then, on Jan. 22-24, the Bass Fishing League (BFL) will launch its Rayovac Fishing League (FLW) divisional series on Lake Okeechobee out of Clewiston, followed by a Wal-Mart FLW Tour event at West Lake Toho on March 5-8.
The daily weigh-ins for these major tournaments give the public the chance to visit with the pros, see their bass boats and view their catches. The final day's weigh-in for the Southern Open will move from the Lake Toho waterfront to a nearby Bass Pro Shops center in downtown Orlando with a tackle and outdoors show — the FLW Expo — also will be held in conjunction with the FLW Tour event during the final two days. It will be headquartered at Toho Marina on the West Lake Toho waterfront in Kissimmee.
In addition, the BFL Gator Division regional circuit will hold five less lucrative tournaments in 2015, all scheduled for Lake Okeechobee, with the opener on Jan. 3. Other dates will be Jan. 31, Feb. 21, April 18, and Aug. 29-30.
The BFL regional circuit is designed for the weekend professionals and consists of 128 tournaments in 15 regional divisions around the country with a total payout of $7.8 million. Lake Toho is no stranger to BASS events, including Bassmaster Classic world championships in 1977 and 2006. Over the years, BASS has held 18 events out of Kissimmee. Toho still holds two impressive BASS records. In a 2001 tournament, Dean Rojas weighed in a one-day record of five bass totaling 45 pounds, 2 ounces. In the 2006 Classic, Preston Clark brought in an 11-pound, 10-ounce bass, the heaviest ever taken in Classic competition.
Mild winter weather is the major factor for tournament sponsors picking Central and South Florida for their early season events because many of Florida's largemouth are spawning in the January-to-March timeframe and it can make for outstanding catches.
Rojas' catch, for example, came on the backside of a winter cold front on a day when the water temperature was rising, a factor that puts big bass into their defensive spawning mode.
Bruce Akin, CEO of BASS, said the nine lakes and river systems picked for the 2015 Opens circuit are among the best in the country.
"These lakes and rivers are all outstanding, legendary waters that are steeped in bass fishing history," Akin said. "Seven are ranked on the Bassmaster's Best 100 Lakes list for 2014."
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, which includes Lake Toho, was ranked No. 21 on the list.