Schmitt leads -Chris Johnston land 28 pound bag.
Lake Okeechobee is 730 square miles in size; half the size of Rhode Island. But for this tournament, one stretch of water a few hundred yards long and wide has out-produced all the rest.
After two days of the FLW Tour presented by Evinrude on Lake Okeechobee, Harney Pond has been THE place to be, as all of the top six anglers in the standings are fishing that area. With the warming conditions, a wave of giant females seems to be pouring in ready to spawn, and thus far, Bryan Schmitt has been the best at making them bite.
After leading day one with 24-11, the Deale, Md. pro followed it up with 23-8 to hold off Mark Rose for the lead with 48-3 for the tournament.
“There’s no doubt the winning fish are in [Harney Pond],” says Schmitt. “It’s the perfect storm [with the fish moving in there]. I think there is a 30-pound bag in there now that there will be less boats.”
While Schmitt and the other top pros had the area mostly to themselves on day one, day two was a different story, as on Friday there were as many as 35 pros fishing the area at any given time.
Schmitt says the added boat traffic of being in the last flight threw off his rotation to start the day. He was able to box a quick limit with the swim jig he used Thursday, but it wasn’t until he changed up to a Riot Baits Recon Bladed Jig around noon that his day turned around.
“It was little-fish city for awhile,” says Schmitt. “Then I changed baits, calmed down and caught them really well from noon to 3 p.m.”
Originally, a big worry for Schmitt and the rest of the anglers fishing Harney Pond was a predicted wind shift on Thursday that could have ruined the area. The shift happened, but Schmitt and the rest of the pros say it didn’t ruin the water as bad as they thought, which was good considering all say they’re committed to staying there.
“Oh yeah, 100 percent,” says Schmitt on staying in Harney Pond the rest of the tournament. “There is nowhere that has that quality right now.
“I called my wife and told her she may want to buy a plane ticket for Sunday. So we’ll see what comes of it.”
Top 10 pros
1. Bryan Schmitt – Deale, Md. – 48-3 (10)
2. Mark Rose – West Memphis, Ark. – 47-5 (10)
3. Chris Johnston – Peterborough, Ont. – 43-1 (10)
4. Tim Frederick – Leesburg, Fla. – 42-3 (10)
5. Christopher Brasher – Longview, Texas – 38-15 (10)