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Saturday, February 6, 2016
2016 Walmart FLW Tour Lake Okeechobee Day 2: Bradley Hallman Take Huge Lead!
Canadian Co-anglers Yonemitsu & Agouros finish 5th and 6th.
by Rob Newell
FLW PRESS RELEASE Take an extremely full Lake Okeechobee, put a 15 mph south wind on it one day, then flip the wind 180 degrees and propel it to 25 mph out of the north the next day, and what you have is something akin to a 467,000-acre washtub, spilling over at the sides and sloshing bass and bass fishermen back and forth.
Hallman winning over wind and weeds. (Photo: FLW)
This time around, the Walmart FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats has not been about staking out a square-mile area in the Monkey Box and waiting for waves of big bass to funnel in hourly. This time around, the anglers have been tested by the biggest washing machine in the southern U.S., and the cold-water rinse cycle started today.
The angler who seems to be thriving in the sloshing is Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. Hallman is a former Bassmaster Elite Series pro who is off to a solid start in rekindling his pro fishing career on the Walmart FLW Tour in this event, which is presented by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and Hendry County Tourism and Development Council. After sacking up 25 pounds on day one, Hallman bettered that on a horribly gusty day two with 25 pounds, 7 ounces and now leads second-place pro Alex Davis by 8 1/2 pounds.
In all of the sloshing, Hallman has thrived by searching for stability – stability in water clarity, stability in cover and stability in presentation.
Hallman admits he was apprehensive when he started the day due to the high north winds pushing water into his primary area on the south end of the lake. But the first fish he landed was a solid 5-pounder, and it settled him down immediately.
“After that I hit a bit of a lull for a few hours,” Hallman says. “I was getting bites, but I just couldn’t get them in the boat. But I felt like the ones I lost were not really that big. Just getting bites helped keep my confidence up.”
At about 11 a.m. Hallman landed another 5-pounder and from there was off to the races with a 6- and then a 7-pounder.
“I did have to move around quite a bit more today to avoid the dirty water,” Hallman adds. “Honestly, I don’t even know which way the main lake is from where I’m fishing. All I know is some of the places I caught them yesterday definitely got dirty, and I had to keep moving to stay in clear water.”
Hallman’s primary technique for the last two days has been pitching. When the wind began gusting to 25 mph right off the bat this morning, Hallman turned his back to the gale, put down his Power-Poles and focused on what was in front of him.
“On a tournament on the Harris Chain years ago I learned that when the wind blows in Florida, you have to put your back to the wind and pitch with the wind,” he says. “It just allows you to present the bait so much more efficiently than trying to cross or go against the wind.”
Despite losing some of his water to mud today, Hallman feels confident about the coming days.
“I still have plenty of targets I haven’t fished yet,” Hallman says. “I found a way to deal with the wind today. Now I’m just hoping the water temperature doesn’t drop too much over the next couple of days.”