UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Brown cruises to victory on Big O

Pro Marty Brown of Dalton, Ga., proudly displays his first-place trophy after winning the FLW American Fishing Series event on Lake Okeechobee.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - As a full-time firefighter and paramedic for the city of Smyrna, Ga., Marty Brown is used to dealing with intense and nerve-wracking situations on a daily basis. But luckily for him, today was not one of them. Using a total three-day catch of 52 pounds, 1 ounce, Brown sailed to victory in the biggest fishing tournament of his career, easily outdistancing the competition on the day when it mattered most. "This is great," said Brown, shortly after securing the hard-fought tournament title on Lake Okeechobee. "I've been fishing with this organization for a long time and had a lot of close calls. But to win a tournament like this is just wonderful. This is probably the best moment of my fishing career." While Brown ultimately won the event with plenty of weight to spare, that didn't mean that it was easy. Although the day started off calm and warm, a nasty cold front moved through the area around midday, bringing torrential rains as well as a significant drop in temperatures that shut down the bite for the majority of the field. "At one point I was standing in the front of my boat in the rain and the cold wondering what the heck I was doing," said Brown. "But then I remembered that there was probably a good check waiting for me at the end. "I was really hoping that the water would warm up today, but that didn't really happen," Brown continued. "But I didn't make any mistakes, and that's what needs to happen if you're going to win a tournament like this." Pro Marty Brown of Dalton, Ga., shows off part of his wnning stringer at the American Fishing Series event on Lake Okeechobee.During the early-morning hours when the weather was more favorable, Brown managed to land a small limit of keepers by 10 a.m. "I probably culled about three or four fish after that," said Brown. "But my big fish didn't come until around noon. It was a tough day out there. At one point my co-angler wanted to change areas, but there was no way I was going anywhere. With the weather, I knew that the weights would be down. But heading back to weigh-in, I still didn't think I had enough to pull off the win." Brown said that he relied primarily on one fishing area, a spot that served as a gateway for spawning fish heading to and from the shallows. "I haven't been to this lake in about 10 years, so I tried to keep things simple," he said. "I had two Castaway flipping sticks that I used all week. And I caught most of my fish on a Zoom black lizard." As a co-angler on the FLW Tour last season, Brown said that one of the most important things he learned from his pro partners was the value of remaining patient during tournament days. "I used to be a run-and-gun type of guy," he said. "If the fish didn't bite, I'd get impatient and go to a new area. But I saw how the pros did it. If they knew fish were in the area, they wouldn't leave even if they weren't getting the bites. And today, that helped me. Instead of moving to where I thought the fish would be, I waited for the fish to come to me." And come to Brown they did. In the end, Brown walked away with nearly $25,000 in winnings as well as the most important victory of his career. McMillan snares unlikely second-place finish Pro Jeff McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., finished the American Fishing Series event on Lake Okeechobee in second place.Heading into the finals on Lake Okeechobee, Jeff McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., was sitting in sixth place, nearly a full 10 pounds off the lead. While it appeared McMillan was in line for a nice check, it didn't seem likely that he'd be able to challenge for a tournament title. But that's exactly what he did. After turning in the biggest sack of day three - a 13-pound, 7-ounce stringer - McMillan sat back and watched as one pro after another struggled to bring a double-digit bag to the weigh-in podium. And before he knew it, there was only one angler - Marty Brown - standing between him and a tournament title. While Brown quickly produced the winning weight, McMillan's effort was not lost on the crowd. "It was a great tournament," said McMillan. "It could have been a little better, but the weather really got us. But, overall, I had a blast." McMillan said that he targeted most of his fish in grass in about 2 to 3 feet of water using a combination of Reaction Innovation Skinny Dippers and Senko worms. "If I missed a fish on the Skinny Dipper, I'd throw the Senko and catch it nine times out of 10," he said. "For me, the key was finding clear water. It was OK if it was a little bit dirty, but if it was chocolate, you might as well move on and not waste your time." McMillan, who ultimately recorded a three-day catch of 46 pounds, 6 ounces, walked away with a runner-up finish and nearly $8,400 in prize money. And although he had a few minor regrets, he said the overall experience is one that he'll remember for a long time. "This is my first-ever American Fishing Series event, so I feel pretty good," he said. "I lost a good fish on Thursday, another one on Friday and had a 3-pounder come unhooked at the boat today. And those fish would have helped me. But, overall, I had a fantastic time." DeMott nets third place Day-one pro leader Don DeMott of Boca Raton, Fla., ultimately finished the American Fishing Series event on Lake Okeechobee in third plalce.Like many of the top 10 finalists, day-one pro leader Don DeMott of Boca Raton, Fla., really struggled with the last-minute weather change that descended upon Lake Okeechobee during the final day of competition. Although he appeared poised to make a strong run at a tournament title, his final-day catch of 5 pounds, 10 ounces ultimately derailed his chances. "The water temperature really changed overnight, and I think that's why the weights came down a bunch today," said DeMott. "I really needed the water temperatures to be in the low 60s, and that didn't happen. When the weather changed, it really hurt my fish. I guess Florida fish really don't like weather changes that much." Throughout the tournament, DeMott had been running all over the lake, targeting as many as 15 different spots and fishing a variety of Gambler ribbon-tail worms, flapping shads and a new bait, the Gambler Big Easy. However, despite his lack of success in the finals, DeMott said he had no regrets. "Any time you make the top 10, you're making good decisions," said DeMott, who ultimately recorded a total weight of 46 pounds, 5 ounces. "It was definitely a lot of fun to compete against the caliber of fishermen here. Overall, I've been really blessed this week. I had a great time." For his efforts, DeMott walked away with nearly $6,000 in winnings. Fitts grabs fourth place Pro Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Fla., finished the American Fishing Series event on Lake Okeechobee in fourth place.Plagued by boat problems all week, it was a near miracle that Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Fla., even qualified for the finals. Throw in the fact that he entered the final day of competition in ninth place, and it was easy to see why Fitts was more than pleased with his fourth-place finish. "I'm so excited to be here," said Fitts, who turned in a three-day catch of 45 pounds, 14 ounces. "It's unbelievable. It's been a trying week for me for sure." Fitts, who lost his lower unit earlier in the tournament, said that he targeted bass by using a combination of Strike King tube baits, Zoom Brush Hogs and sight-fishing techniques. "What a week," said Fitts. "It was tough. But, overall, I'm happy with how things turned out." For his efforts, Fitts netted nearly $5,000 in prize money. Best of the rest Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tenn., used a total catch of 45 pounds, 8 ounces to finish in fifth place. Horton also walked away with a check for $4,400. Pro Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., shows off his catch en route to a sixth-place finish at the FLW AFS event on Lake Okeechobee.Rounding out the top 10 American Fishing Series pro finalists: 6th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., 44-11 7th: Kevin Long of Clewiston, Fla., 42-15 8th: Roger Gonzalez of Hialeah Gardens, Fla., 40-7 9th: Aymon Wilcox of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., 38-13 10th: Ronnie Watts of Florence, S.C., 36-15 FLW American Fishing Series Southeast Division action resumes on Lake Seminole, scheduled to take place April 29-May 1 in Bainbridge, Ga.

Tags: headline-story  gary-mortenson 


Top Picks From ICAST

A few days of walking the floor at ICAST is enough to exhaust a body, but it isn’t enough to know exactly what’s worthwhile. For that, you need some time to reflect and probably a few tournament seasons to fly by to see what rises up. READ MORE »


Renfrew Fished to Win

Ian Renfrew of Phoenix, New York, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Northeast Division tournament on Oneida Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Renfrew earned $4,695. READ MORE »


Docks and Rocks Key for Synders

Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 6 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Music City Division tournament on Old Hickory Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Snyders earned $2,703. READ MORE »


Jig, Crankbait Carry Powroznik

Ryan Powroznik of Prince George, Virginia, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 15 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Piedmont Division tournament on the James River. For his victory, Powroznik earned $7,507. READ MORE »


Persistence Pays for Arning

Ray Arning Jr. of Walnut Hill, Illinois, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 5 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Illini Division tournament on Rend Lake presented by Navionics. For his victory, Arning earned $5,804. READ MORE »


New Rod Roundup

Rod companies continue to impress each year with a new crop of lighter, faster and more affordable (sweet!) rods. On the subject of price, these days, a tournament pro or an average angler could be fishing with rods that cost less than $100 apiece, but without giving up anything in the realm of quality. READ MORE »


New Terminal Tackle

Don’t skimp where it counts the most – terminal tackle. Hooks, weights, jigheads and the like are the keys to taking all those new soft baits and swimbaits to the fish, hooking them and getting them in the boat. Here’s the best stuff we saw on the floor at ICAST 2015. READ MORE »


FLW Announces 2016 Tour Schedule

FLW announced the 2016 Walmart FLW Tour regular-season schedule today in a live press conference held at the 2015 ICAST show in Orlando, Fla. With the help of six veteran Tour pros, the company unveiled each of the six events, one-by-one, to a crowd of observers gathered around the FLW booth. READ MORE »


6 New Reels to Try

Whether you need to replace an old reel or you’re just looking to add to the arsenal, here are some of the latest and greatest from ICAST. READ MORE »


6 New Lines from ICAST 2015

Line might just be the most important part of the package when it comes to landing fish. From presenting the bait to getting them in the net, your line is involved the entire way. If you’re looking for something new to try, the following lines are worth a shot. READ MORE »


ICAST Best Of Show Winners

One of the highlights of ICAST is the annual “Best of Show” awards. Not everything at ICAST is of interest to bass anglers, but the below might end up being staples for a long time to come. READ MORE »


10 New Frogs and Toads

These days, frogs and toads aren’t just mimicking frogs and toads. They’re designed to be perfect imitations of rats, bream and various oddball creatures. New models at ICAST this season offer anglers some of these “alternative” species, as well as new sizes, colors, action types and degrees of realism. Here are 10 new models that we feel are of greatest interest. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »


7 Terrific Topwater Baits

If you don’t like fishing topwater, just give up fishing already. These seven new baits will help you get your surface-fishing fix next season. READ MORE »


Critters and Craws

Nearly everyone already has a tackle box overflowing with soft baits. That said, there are always more to try. If you’re looking for something new, the following might do the trick. READ MORE »


New Hard Baits for 2015

It doesn’t take long to find yourself overwhelmed on the show floor of ICAST. Hundreds of companies are here unveiling cool, new products. When it comes to the hard bait category it can be daunting to sift through all the new stuff. Its early, but here are a few things that might be worth adding to the tackle box. READ MORE »


ICAST 2015 Fishing Accessories

Check out these tools and accessory items that fill a variety of roles when on the water. We’ll update the list later tomorrow too. Click here for complete 2015 ICAST coverage. READ MORE »


Cool New Electronics at ICAST 2015

These days, anglers rely on cutting edge electronic devices not only to find and catch fish, but also to share their fishing experiences with the world. The following new products, as seen on day one at ICAST 2015, will help you do all of the above. READ MORE »


New Clothing and Sunglasses at ICAST 2015

Sunglasses and clothing that can resist all that Mother Nature throws at it are critical for hard-core anglers. Here’s what’s new in those categories at this year’s ICAST show. READ MORE »


Three New Finesse Worms

Though there is a ton of finesse worms already available on the market, but the following three from the first day of ICAST might be worth a look if you sense a gap in your arsenal. READ MORE »


Dance, Detweiler and East Win ICAST Cup

Weighing in midway through the 48-boat field, Bill Dance, Cody Detweiler, and Dave East repped Mystik Lubricants brought a five-bass limit for 17 pounds, 1 ounce to the scale for the win. The team focused on two shallow, grassy areas within sight of Big Toho Marina for the entirety of the event and caught about 10 bass and culled twice before 8 a.m. READ MORE »