'The Record' is safe — for now

Will Dean Rojas' records of heaviest one-day catch and total weight for a four-day event be broken at the 2006 CITGO Bassmaster's Classic on Lake Toho?

Can Florida's fabled water's offer up sacks like it did in the 2001 event that saw the Top 5 competitors haul in a combined catch of 443 pounds?

Sounds like all the planets and stars, jelly beans and tea leaves were lined up and in synch during that magical, record-shattering week in mid-January of 2001.

From accounts of the competitors that week, conditions were optimal for an eye-popping tournament. An unusually cool winter had finally eased the week preceding the arrival of the Top 150 competitors to Toho. A warm spell that peaked the day before the first competition day sent waves of huge females flooding into the spawning areas of Toho and the stage was set.

This year's event will most certainly be an exciting event. The Classic has become a major outdoor sporting event, no matter where or when it is held. It is the Holy Grail for many competitors on the Bassmaster Tournament Trails, and Florida still holds its own as the Mecca for bass-fishing enthusiasts from across the country.

Thanks to a recent sediment-removal project that saw the Lake Toho level lowered and much of the bottom scraped free of silt, spawning habitat for the fish has been improved. The numbers of fish caught during Classic competition will most likely be greater than in some of the years past, but will the big fish be caught?

A warm winter this year coupled with the tournament being held during the onset of a new moon may make for a less than record-setting performance by the anglers.

The warmer weather allows bass to spawn more in synch with the moon phase than weather conditions and it spreads the spawn out over the course of several months.

Without a doubt, there will be some big sacks caught; February in Florida is a great time to be on the water, regardless of the conditions. But will someone top five bass that weigh 45 pounds, 2 ounces? Not likely, but certainly possible.

Will Dean's record survive through the Classic at Toho? Yes, but it may not make it through the second week in March, when the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series kicks off in Del Rio, Texas.

Classic picks

Terry "Big Show" Scroggins, Palatka, Fla. — Florida boy, flippin' fool, fresh off a strong showing at the Southern Tour on the next pond downstream (Okeechobee), plus he has a bag of top-secret Zoom craws to dunk in the matted vegetation that covers much of Lake Toho.

One of the strongest flippers to come along in years, if the bite swings toward post-spawn, cold front conditions where the bigger fish bury up in the thickest of cover, Big Show could be the man with the knowledge, stubbornness, and confidence to grab all the marbles.

Edwin "Steady Eddie" Evers, Mannsville, Okla. — You have to love a guy with nicknames like "Steady Eddie" and "The Complete Package". Edwin is one of those guys it is hard to pin down as being a technique-specific angler.

He seems to be good with every technique. His victories on the Tour have been accomplished by using a variety of baits and techniques to get the job done. If Edwin can find an area at Toho with quality fish, look for him to turn on the vacuum and suck up as many as possible.

Dark Horses

Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla. — Another solid all-around angler, Kriet had a Top 10 finish in the Tour event here last year. Has been getting some positive press lately that tends to boost a guy's confidence.

Jeff Reynolds, Platter, Okla. — Yeah, I know, another guy from Oklahoma. Reynolds finished third at Toho last year, has been to the Classic on two previous occasions (finishing twelfth at Three Rivers last summer and eighth in 2003 in New Orleans), and he has a way of stepping up and making that big swing when the time is right. The time is right.