With 50,000 acres of water, the Harris Chain can be a bewildering place to fish. No other bass water in the county contains such a wide variety of water color, cover and lake conditions. All of these factors coupled with incredible fishing pressure can sometimes make for tough fishing. Fortunately, there is a way to shorten your search for Harris Chain bass.
The bass recovery that has taken place over the past ten years is mainly due to the return of submergent vegetation. Before the weed spraying agencies made their move in the late eighties, underwater weeds were plentiful throughout the chain. After the chemical nuking of the lakes in the late eighties, the lake bottom was covered with rotting vegetation, suffocating whatever other growth had escaped the sprayers nozzles.
A lot has changed in the last ten years. There was a time when the predominant bass holding cover in the lakes was Kissimmee Grass, the visible grass that rings the shores of the chain. Ten years ago using a long rod to flip plastic worms and craws in the grass was the only way to work up a limit of keeper bass. Today, the lakes have cleared considerably and flipping has taken a back seat to casting, crankbaiting and Carolina rigging.
A little known fact is that many Harris Chain bass have packed up and relocated to new territory. Today, they are much more abundant in and around deeper eelgrass beds. Eelgrass is a submergent grass meaning that it lives totally under water. If you are looking for eelgrass, and you should, it’s dark green in color and resembles lawn grass only the blades are much wider and longer. The best way to find eelgrass is with a shallow running crankbait like a Rattle Trap. Eelgrass in the Harris Chain is especially plentiful around clean shorelines where the Kissimmee grass has been removed to make a path for a boat dock or beach. It is also found at the entrance to canals and spring fed runs. Eel grass is the gold standard of bass cover in our waters.
There are many successful ways to fish eelgrass including shallow cranking, spinnerbaiting and casting a light worm. One of my favorites early in the season is to cast a weightless watermelon colored Zoom Super Fluke around the beds on light line. It doesn’t matter how you fish around eelgrass, just knowing the fish are there goes a long way toward narrowing your search.