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Friday, February 7, 2014
2014 FLW Lake Okeechobee Day 1: Hite Smashed Monster Bag on First Tournament of the Year
Arizona pro catches second-largest bag in Walmart FLW Tour history to take lead
06.Feb.2014 by Kyle Wood
CLEWISTON, Fla. – The question that lingered around the stage before weigh-in for day one of the Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee was which Big O would we see? Would it be the monster-bag beast it can be or would the stingy side be shown. It didn’t take long to find out the answer as 17 pros threw bags of over 20 pounds on the scales today – including Brett Hite’s personal-best limit of 34 pounds, 15 ounces to take a comfortable lead.
Foggy morning and hazy day provides a winning day for
Evergreen Pro Brett Hite.
“Everything went right for me today,” smiled the Phoenix, Ariz., pro. “I didn’t lose any fish and I caught a 6 ½-pounder first thing in the morning – what more could you ask for?”
Hite and Florida just seem to get along. In fact, one of his three victories in his career came from an FLW Tour event on Lake Toho. Recently, Hite has been on good terms with Okeechobee as he has cashed checks in the past few Tour stops here.
“Florida and myself just seem to get along,” said Hite. “I like to try and mix it up down here and I’ve got burned before trying them. I have also cashed some checks trying some different things and through the years I have learned some things that I kept in mind which has helped me out this week.”
With the fog delay holding things up this morning, many pros – like Hite – thought it would hurt their fishing.
“I really thought with this fog I would just have to go try and catch a limit but when I got to my starting spot they were chomping. I caught some big ones in practice but nothing to the extent of what I did today. I’d catch one here and then 30 minutes later catch another one and the bite was pretty consistent all day.”
After boxing nearly 35 pounds of bass early in the day, Hite went in search mode to check some new spots.
“I had my limit by 11 o’clock or so and after that I went practicing. I have quite a few other areas I didn’t even run to today. Even in the afternoon when I was just fishing around I caught three 4-pounders. Really I have two major patterns I’m running and I’m confident with them.”
Hite kept his lips sealed not wanting to mention what his style of fishing was that produced the giant limit. However, he did reveal that he caught somewhere around 15 fish throughout the day.
After a career-best day the question must be asked – can he do it again?
“There are a lot of fish in the areas I’m fishing. They keep replenishing so I’m looking forward to get out there again. I don’t really care what the weather does because I can’t control that. All I know is that I have some patterns I can run for whatever the weather conditions.”
Bohannan bags second
Kellogg's Pop-Tarts pro Greg Bohannan has spent the winter months swimming a grub around Beaver Lake but decided to trade the light tackle for some extra-heavy gear on day one to catch a monster 27-2 limit – also his career-best day.
“This was the absolute best day of fishing in my life,” said the Rogers, Ark., pro. “My track record on Okeechobee isn’t great so to start the year like this is great.”
Bohannan’s practice was OK and revealed a bunch of beds in the area he planned to fish. Things looked promising for Bohannan to start the day and ultimately it wasn’t the fog delay that had him bummed out.
“I went up north this morning expecting to catch them one way. I fished around there until noon and decided I had to make a change. I picked up and left to run some new areas and just went fishing. I caught them pretty good after that – maybe a dozen fish.”
Bohannan is fishing a hard-bottom area and said he not only caught some fish casting and winding, but flipping as well.
“I had the area I fished all to myself today. I hope there are a bunch of fishing coming up, but I’m no Florida expert. What I do know is I’m pretty convinced those fish were attracted to the Peanut Butter Pop-Tarts wrap I got.”
Ryan Chandler of Valparaiso, Ind., was the first to hit the scales today and got noticed quickly after toting a 26-pound, 1-ounce limit to the stage.
“That fog delay had me worried this morning,” said Chandler. “I caught 17 pounds pretty quick and then went to a spot where I caught a big one the other day and boated my three biggest fish. I laid off them after that because I had 26 pounds by 12:30.
“I had a really good practice and expected to catch them good today.”
Chandler caught over a dozen fish today and culled roughly a 15-pound limit. Like many of the top anglers he is using a one-two punch of flipping and casting.
“I started to day flipping but then went to casting baits later on in the day. I’m fishing one big area with a lot of boats in it and I think I’m doing something different than the other guys.”
Chandler isn’t sure he can reproduce the same weight he had today but is confident in his approach to the crowded spot. He plans to run the same game plan on day two.