Monday, February 7, 2011

FLW Lake Okeechobee: The Whole Picture

A Week At A Glance on the Big O.
FLW Tour Lake Okeechobee
Clewiston, Florida  February 3-6, 2011

The Champ! (Photo Brett Carlson)
 Brandon McMillan, 27, a Clewiston UPS driver, used his local skill to perfection winning his first FLW Tour victory and he did it on the first try.  Fishing extremely well, he became the new FLW heaviest tournament creel holder with a 4 day, 20 bass total of 106-10 pounds. With over a 5 pound average, you know he’s done something magical.

Brandon's Week
The first day he brought in 27-00 even which placed him 6th. Day 2 was another banner day with a sack of  28-14  lifting him into third.  With the field cut to the Top 20, the third day brought his lightest limit yet, 25-05 which dropped him down one place into fourth. The last day, McMillan paced back and forth along his best stretch and netted at very decent 25-07. The grand total of 106-10 edged out fellow flipper Randall Tharp by 4 pounds 8 ounces. (More on this in the next blog entry) 

The Whole Picture
This week was a tournament based on spots. Anglers who found these few magic locations, many in the northern section near the Kissimmee River,  were blessed with phenomenal catches. Even though Lake Okeechobee is the largest natural lake in the entire south, almost the entire Top 10 field were crammed into a few key spawning flats or weed patches.

Hours before the tournament started, fisherman had to make the decision of where to start their first day. Many knew big females were up spawning while others only could locate smaller males forming beds. Regardless, a few techniques would dominate. Casting buzzing frogs or Gambler Big EZ (swim senko baits) over flats, pitching to beds with a variety of plastics, topwaters or punch weed mats.  All proven methods.

Within the first few hours, the anglers who reached well marked beds were met with anguish and horror.  The big female bass were gone! Big females are fickle and when everything is not correct,they’ll slip off the beds and fade away.
Others, like Fred Roumbanis were shocked to discover many bass were still locked on. He found a big one days before and she was waiting for him. Several admitted that if a bass was on a bed she would bite. Often on the first cast.

Over Time
As the tournament progressed, Chad Prough bagged giant bass after giant bass to lead the first three days. Day One's leading weight was 35-03 matched with a 32-04 limit on Day 2. Clearly, he was on the right spot and doing the correct techniques. As amazing as these catches were, Fred Roumbanis stunned the crowd with a 34-05 catch anchored with lively 9-07 kicker; that day’s largest bass.

One problem was that Chad and Fred were almost boat to boat and whacking them. It was only a matter of time before the area dried up and one would falter.  That came on the third day for Roumbanis when he narrowly missed qualifying for the Top Ten with a disappointing five fish for 10-06. 

While he and Chad both had lighter limits, Chad weighted in a respectable 20-08 but a far cry from his 32 pound bag the day before. By the end of the weigh-in, many wondered if they squeezed a bit too much from their wonder hole. Chad remained on top, but several monster limits by Peter T (33-14), Randall Tharp (28-12) and Terry Scroggins (27-07) came in Saturday making Sunday a guessing game for everyone.

Day 4: What Happened To Who? 

Learn why Flippers Didn't Flop as Bedding Bass Bolt in the next blog along with how the weather changed the game for everyone and Peter T's Lucky ran out.

Stay turned for Part 2

No comments:

Post a Comment