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Friday, January 5, 2018
2018 Costa FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee Day 1: Tucker Leads with 21 Pounds!
Cold dirty water floods Big O
by Rob Newell
There’s an old theory about Florida-strain largemouth bass that suggests if they have spawned and eggs are in the nest, the fish will stay to protect them no matter how severe a passing cold front might be.
Tucker grabs big lead on cold first day. (Photo: FLW)
Terry Tucker tested that theory on Lake Okeechobee today and found that it held true, providing him with the day-one lead in the Costa FLW Series event presented by Power-Pole. His five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 3 ounces was helped by three 6- to 7-pound females he found in practice when the water was still warm and the full moon was nearing.
“That’s something I’ve learned about these Florida bass over the years: If they have spawned, they’ll hang in there with their beds even if the water temperature drops like it did today,” Tucker says. “It’s unlikely new ones will move in, but the ones that committed before the front will stay.”
Tucker found the area that produced the three big ones on Saturday when he hooked an 8-pounder and shook off several other bites. He knew the fish had moved in to spawn and was confident they would stay despite one of the worst cold fronts Okeechobee has endured in the last several years. While other anglers lost a lot of their productive areas due to incoming muddy water, Tucker’s area stayed protected from mud.
“The water color did not change,” says the Alabama pro. “In fact, it was already a little stained when I found the area initially. Today I pulled in there, and it had that same color to it. I caught those three big ones and left. After that I went to some other places to catch two more to finish my limit.”
As for tomorrow, Tucker believes the small area still has a couple of big ones left in it.
“Well, I know there is still an 8-pounder in there somewhere,” he says. “I’d like to catch her again and bring her to weigh-in tomorrow.”
LEHMAN LEADS CO-ANGLERS
James Lehman of Oviedo, Fla., leads the co-angler division after day one with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces.
Lehman caught about nine keepers on the day while fishing with Florida pro Jessie Mizell. But it was a 5-pound, 5-ounce bruiser that got his day started early.
“You toss and turn all night long before tournament day dreaming of catching a big one,” Lehman says. “And today it happened. After I got it in the boat I had to tell myself to breathe. It was an awesome moment.”