Considering the blast of cold weather we just got, it is difficult to consider mid-January as the start of the tournament season. Yet, even as most of us reach for a heavy jacket, anglers are getting ready for the start of the FLW EverStart Southern Division on the Big O.
Here is a intro to what the anglers can expect from south Florida under a full moon.
Text by FLW outdoors
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — The EverStart Series opens the 2012 season on Lake Okeechobee Jan. 19-21 with a tournament presented by Mercury. As many as 300 pros and co-anglers will take to the water for the first of four stops in the Southeast Division.
“Fishing is pretty awesome on Lake Okeechobee right now,” said EverStart pro Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala. “Any time you have a full or new moon in January, it’s pretty special on Okeechobee. There is a full moon right now, and I think when this tournament starts, we will be going into a new moon phase. It is going to be special.
“I think the fishing is even better than it was last year, and it is going to take at least one 30-pound stringer to win this event,” Tharp continued. “If you’re catching 3- and 4-pound bass, you might as well not even bring them to the scale; it is going to take bigger fish than that to win. Catching a 5-pounder here is kind of a disappointment.
“Flipping and sight-fishing will both work for this tournament,” Tharp went on to say. “The guy that can figure out the deal of the day will be the one that wins this event. Lake levels are dropping, but I don’t know if that will continue. Right now there is a lot more fishable water than there was last year. Certain areas are still going to be crowded, but there are so many fish everybody is going to catch them. Anglers are going to have to be versatile and willing to make adjustments – the bass can change moods and locations just that quickly.”
Anglers will take off from C. Scott Driver Park located at 10100 West Highway 78 in Okeechobee, Fla., at 7:30 each morning. Thursday and Friday’s weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. daily. Saturday’s final weigh-in will be held at Walmart located at 2101 S. Parrott Ave. in Okeechobee starting at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public.
Pros will fish for a top award of $35,000 plus a 198VX Ranger boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard if Ranger Cup guidelines are met. Co-anglers will cast for a top award consisting of a Ranger 177TR with 90-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $5,000 if Ranger Cup guidelines are met.
The EverStart Series consists of five divisions – Central, Northern, Southeast, Texas and Western. Each division consists of four tournaments and competitors will be vying for valuable points in each division that could earn them the Strike King Angler of the Year title along with $5,000 for the pro and $2,000 for the co-angler. The top 40 pros and co-anglers from each respective division will qualify for the EverStart Series Championship that will be held on the Ouachita River in Monroe, La., Nov. 1-4.
The EverStart Series tournament on Lake Okeechobee is being hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism Development Council.
For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the EverStart Series on Facebook at Facebook.com/FLWFishing and on Twitter at Twitter.com/FLWFishing.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing unparalleled fishing resources and entertainment to our sponsors, fans and host communities. FLW is offering anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2012 over the course of 190 tournaments across five tournament circuits, each providing an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW is committed to providing a lifestyle experience that is the “Best in Fishing, On and Off the Water,” through a variety of platforms including tournaments, outdoor expos and the world’s richest fantasy sports game – FLW Fantasy Fishing. For more information about FLW and FLW Fantasy Fishing, browse this site or visit FantasyFishing.com and look for FLW on Twitter and Facebook.