Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Walmart FLW Tour Lake Okeechobee Day 3: Hallman Punching Up a Huge Lead!

by Rob Newell
The third day of Walmart FLW Tour events always seem to be the stingiest days. Whether it’s due to condition changes or fishing pressure or both, day three is the seam where anglers’ primary locations and patterns from the first two days begin to fray. As a result, anglers fishing in the top-20 round on day three are faced with some difficult decisions that boil down to staying committed to their primary gig or switching up their game to try something else for a new window that might be opening.
This week at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee, tournament leader Bradley Hallman, who has sacked up about 25 pounds per day the last two days, says his day-three decision was pretty easy: stay committed to flipping and punching matted reed heads.
This 8 pounder helps keep the pack 13 1/2 pounds behind.  (Photo: FLW)
That decision resulted in being one fish shy of a limit on day three. But one of his four bass weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces, pushing Hallman’s catch to 14 pounds, 3 ounces to give him a three-day total of 64-10. His lead over second-place angler Alex Davis is now 13 1/2 pounds going into the fourth and final day in this event that is hosted by Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina and Resort and the Hendry County Tourism and Development Council.

“That 8-pounder is why I flip,” Hallman says. “Tomorrow I’m going to flip until the cows come home. I’m not going to get out in the grass and pads and cast a worm around for 7 pounds because while I’m doing that, I could miss the opportunity to catch one of those.
“Last year, Ray Hanselman [winner of four Costa FLW Series events in a row] told me: You don’t have to worry about five fish if they’re the right size,” Hallman continues. “I took that to heart today and kept the big stick in my hand.”
Hallman says it’s not that he didn’t get the bites today that kept him from catching a limit. Rather, the fish just wouldn’t hold on. Hallman committed to the fish, but they would not commit to him.
“I don’t know why that is other than the water temperature dropped 2 1/2 degrees, and with the cloud cover, it did not warm back up much,” he says. “It’s just moody Florida bass I guess.”
Hallman will have to earn his win tomorrow as the forecast now calls for more high winds out of the north to 25 mph and another significant air temperature drop in the wake of a front moving through this evening.
“There is still plenty of clear water in my primary area, and I still think there are plenty of fish there,” he adds. “I’ve got about a dozen reed heads that are key to me; they have produced fish each day. I do try some new ones from time to time, but those dozen or so are what I have relied on, and I am counting on them again tomorrow.”

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