By MLF Communications Staff
Maryland pro Bryan Schmitt brought four bass to the scale Saturday weighing 18-02 – including a 9-02 kicker – to win the Lake Toho Southern Toyota Series event in Flordia. Schmitt weighed in 14 bass over three days of competition totaling 66-10, besting 2nd-place angler Mikey Keyso of North Port, Florida, by more than 8 pounds. For his victory, Schmitt earned the top payout of $51,500.
The victory was the sixth career Toyota Series win for Schmitt and moved him to No. 1 on the all-time list. Schmitt had been in a three-way tie at five with Randy Haynes and Koby Kreiger.
“I am so blessed,” Schmitt said. “I am blessed to have grown up fishing the Potomac River, where I had no choice but to learn all the intricacies of grass fishing if I wanted to compete. Those lessons have served me well over the years.”
This week the puzzle started with a long, narrow vein of grass that ran out across a vast flat of bare sand and shell in about 6 feet of water. The thin strip of hydrilla was about a quarter-mile long and terminated into a huge and shallower grass bed in about 3 or 4 feet of water.
“The band of grass grew up about 2 or 3 feet off the bottom and it was clumpy the whole way,” Schmitt said. “When I first found it in practice, I knew fish had to relate to it in some way.”
On the first day of the tournament, Schmitt figured out exactly how they related to it.
“I graphed the entire length of that narrow strip several times and finally found the mother lode where the strip ran into the shallow grass flat,” he said. “There was like an intersection right there.”
His suspicions were confirmed when he began using his LiveScope to scan along the clumpy grass strip and saw big dots swimming everywhere. With that, he picked up SPRO Aruku Shad 75, in a color aptly named wild shiner, tied to 15-pound test P-Line Tactical Fluorocarbon, and the rest is history.
Schmitt guesses that he saw about 70 percent of the fish he caught on LiveScope before casting to them. On several occasions when he saw fish meander up close to the boat, he pitched the Aruku Shad to the fish, let it sink, ripped it up and watched the fish annihilate it on his screen.
He also watched fish take a swipe at the rattlebait on the screen, but never touch it. When that happened, he would resort to a couple of backup lures, including a Missile Baits Quiver Worm (junebug) Neko-rigged on a Hayabusa Weedless Spin Muscle Wacky Hook. He also caught a few on his namesake 1/2-ounce swim jig called the Lil’ Schmitty (river special) trailed with a Missile Baits Shockwave (shrapnel).
“I caught a lot of big fish on that Aruku Shad this week,” he said. “I put fresh Hayabusa trebles on it: a No. 4 on the back and No. 5 on the front. The very first fish I hooked this morning was that 9-pounder and she stayed pinned the whole way.”
Here are the final totals for the Top 10:
1. Bryan Schmitt: 66-10
2. Mikey Keyso: 58-08
3. Bobby Bakewell: 50-15
4. Steven Hatala: 43-04
5. Eric Conant: 42-02
6. Trevor Fitzgerald: 42-02
7. Eric Panzironi: 38-11
8. Jared McMillan: 37-14
9. Samuel Whitmire: 35-06
10. Cole Hewitt: 34-03
For complete results, click here.