Story by Justin Brouillard | Photos by Tanner & Travis Lyons
KISSIMMEE, FL. – For the final stop of the 2022 NPFL season, the anglers and their families make their way back to the South to wrap up the year at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. After back-to-back events on the Great Lakes, warm weather and Florida strain largemouth bass will be welcomed by the anglers to end their season.
About the Lake
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes covers around 21,000 acres in Polk and Osceola counties and are part of the watershed that originates in Orange County and feeds the Florida Everglades. It encompasses around 2,900 square-miles beginning with Shingle Creek, near Orlando, and ending at the South end of Lake Kissimmee, flowing into the Kissimmee River and into Lake Okeechobee. The watershed eventually makes its way to the Everglades.
The lower Kissimmee Chain is made up of Lake Toho, Cypress, Hatchineha, Jackson, Marian and Kissimmee. Being a shallow water fishery, it’s extremely sensitive to cold fronts and anglers finding clean, clear water will be key to staying around bass.
Ending the season on his home lake, Keith Carson is excited to get the tournament started and see what sort of challenge the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes has to offer the NPFL anglers. Post Hurricane Ian, the lake has gone through some major changes, and probably for the better.
“Were fishing a ‘not normal’ kind of lake here for this event as the water came up so much after the storms – it is like nothing I have ever seen. The water was/is flooded, and it is still continuing to drop,” said the 2021 NPFL AOY. The lock to Cypress (from Toho) is wide open, they are moving so much water and currently its impassable.”
Carson spent a few days before the cut off exploring his home water but is unsure due to daily condition changes how helpful it will really be.
“During practice, I am not trying to see what’s good then, I only care about what should be good during the event. So much is changing, so I really don’t think it was that beneficial to me,” added Carson.
Per normal, Carson will wait until official practice to determine what might be the winning pattern next week when the event kicks off Thursday. He expects the water to be still moving but ‘more stable’, making a lot cleaner water than normal, and spreading the fish out more than he would like.
Coming into the event with the 2022 Progressive AOY lead, smallmouth expert Gary Adkins is fishing for the win and not worrying too much about the race, in which he holds a 14-point lead over Timmy Reams.
“I came down before the hurricane but the water has come up a lot since then. I think this will be an overall good event with a lot of fish caught. Right now, I am fishing to win as always. If I do that, the AOY will take care of itself and I don’t have to worry. I will know more after the practice next week and if I don’t find anything where I think I can win, I can always look more to catching some fish to secure the AOY,” said Adkins.
He expects a variety of patterns to play in the event from both on the bank and offshore, and some big fish to be caught.
“I expect there to be a good flipping bite around the pads and grass, as well as some sort of shell bar offshore type deal, if you can put the pieces together,” said Adkins. “We may not see as many giant fish caught, but someone will catch an 8 or 9-pound bass for sure. I am excited for it and hopefully I can put the puzzle together.”
Also wrapping up the year at his home water, Sam Whitmire echoed Carson about moving water and thinks the changing conditions will help out the anglers next week.
“If the rain event was closer to our tournament, that is the one thing that could have been better,” said Whitmire. “Having the tournament in the peak of the water movement would have helped, but we still should see some good fishing. I fished before cut off, and it was fishing small. I will see how that has changed when we start practice this weekend.”
Whitmire says for guys coming to ‘the chain’ for the first time, the moving water will certainly help. Those who like to flip can park in Kissimmee and those who like to fish offshore can fish in Toho.
“That is probably the best way to win or cut a check for guys and I will probably do some of both, as well as hopefully something off the wall. The lock for the lower lake will be a rat race, but I expect 60% of the field will stay where we launch.”
Expecting more consistent weights overall than before the hurricane, Whitmire thinks 20-pounds a day average might be the winning weight, compared to 17-pounds pre-hurricane, and with a plethora of 12-pound bags to be had, anglers will need to be in the 13 to 14-pound range to cash a check this week.
How to Watch
Tune in daily November 3rd through the 5th to thenationalprofessionalfishingleague.com to watch daily action from Kissimmee, Florida, with Live Coverage beginning on Friday.
Follow along and watch the daily LIVE Leaderboard, LIVE Blog, and on the water photo galleries and blogs of the anglers on the Kissimmee Chain!
Under the Go Live Tab, choose LIVE Broadcast with links to the real-time Weigh Live Tracker with estimated weights entered by the anglers.
Check out the LIVE Weigh-ins, here!
See the Results from Sandusky Bay, here!