UPCOMING EVENT: Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Todd by a tiebreaker

Ben Todd of Pierson, Fla., wins the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee by a tiebreaker.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - When your very first fish of a three-day tournament is 9-pounder, it could be fortune. When your very last fish of that three-day tournament is another 9-pounder, it could be fate. But when you win that same three-day tournament by a tiebreaker, someone from above is looking out for you.

That's exactly how the week went for EverStart rookie pro Ben Todd of Pierson, Fla. His first fish of the tournament on Thursday was 9-pounder. Then late this afternoon, with a small limit in his box and just minutes left in the fishing day, Todd hooked and landed another 9-pounder and won the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee by a tiebreaker.

Todd's total weight - 59 pounds, 3 ounces - was the exact total weight of runner-up Trevor Fitzgerald who mounted a gallant charge for the title with an impressive 25-pound-10 ounce catch today. But since Todd was ahead of Fitzgerald going into the final day, Todd got the winning hardware and the $40,000 check to go with it.

"You see that right there," Todd said, seconds after his weight stopped at 16-3, the exact weight he needed to win. "That was not me. The Lord did that...not me."

Indeed it was a magical week for the 32-year old Todd who works on his family's farm in Pierson. It started with a 31-7 limit on day one. Then waned to an 11-9 limit on day two. And then surged again with the magic digits 16-3 today, thanks to the tournament winning 9-pounder.

Todd found his winning area late on Tuesday afternoon.Here

"I made one quick pass down through there, had 10 bites and shook them all off," he said. "But I saw two of them as I was shaking them off and they were big. I did not return to the area until Thursday morning. My first fish of the day was 9-pounder and that kind of set the tone for the day as I kept catching big ones."


Todd's key stretch included a line of reeds "in the middle" around the J&S area, which was protected from the predominant east wind that occurred throughout the event.

"I was not fishing the very outside reeds," Todd detailed. "And I was not fishing all the way inside near the bank, either. This area had a line of reeds going down through the middle. The whole area was maybe three acres in size. And it's not like the fish were bunched up in a tiny spot. I caught them all the way down this line of reeds that ran north and south."

Todd's key lures were a Gambler Fat Ace and a Tightlines UV UVenko. The Fat Ace was in a river bug color and the UVenko was in black and blue. He rigged the lures Texas-style with a 5/0 Gamakatsu flipping hook and topped them with 3/8-tungsten weights on 50-pound test PowerPro braid.

Ben Todd"The fish were spawning around the reeds," he explained. "I couldn't see the beds and I couldn't see the fish, but I could just tell by how they were set up, they had made beds around those reeds. I'd pitch the bait in-between and around the reeds and just let it fall into where I thought a bed would be. I'd start the day with the Gambler Fat Ace and then when things got slow or I was re-fishing some of my stretches, I'd switch to the UVenko to give them a different look. I think that UV technology really gives the lure a different appearance in the water - something they've never seen before."

"Today it was all the UVenko," he added. "I caught small fish early, but late in the day all the boats disappeared and things got calm and quiet and I got that indescribable feeling that maybe another big female or two was moving up. I kept looking at my watch...30 minutes left...20 minutes left...10 minutes left and then that big one bit. When I got her in the boat I knew I had a shot at winning."

Fitzgerald charges hard, finishes second

Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., treated the EverStart crowd to a special show at the final weigh-in, wowing them with an eye-popping 25-pound, 10 ounce limit of Big O bass.

Fitzgerald's massive bag of bass allowed him to challenge Todd for the win, rocketing him from 7th to within a breath of victory. But in the end he had to accept the runner-up spot after Todd won by a tie-breaker, pocketing $15,000. Trevor Fitzgerald wowed the crowd with a massive 25-pound, 10-ounce catch.

"It's tough to swallow," Fitzgerald said graciously. "And even tougher, considering I had 4-ounce dead fish penalty yesterday that cost me the win. I hook a fish in the tongue and usually when that happens, they expire. It was still a good week and hats off to Ben. He's a good guy and he earned it."

Fitzgerald spent most of his week running the south end of the lake pitching main lake reed clumps with a big jig in search of a wave of females that had just moved in to spawn.

"I had a spot I'd stop on first everyday just to get a limit," Fitzgerald said. "It was a rattle trap spot where I could catch 15 or 20 keepers pretty quick, get a limit in the box and then go hunting. I felt like if I stayed on the move and kept sampling different reed clumps, I'd eventually run into a little wad of Trevor Fitzgeraldbig ones and that's exactly what happened today. I stopped on a place where there had just been two-pounders all week and I caught four big females there that, in my opinion, had literally just moved in with the new moon last night."

Fitzgerald's heavy artillery was a 1-ounce Gambler Jigzilla trailed with a Gambler MegaDaddy and tied to 80-pound Sunline FX braid. His flipping stick was his namesake 7-foot, 10-inch Fitzgerald Rods custom Big Jig/Mat Flipping stick.

"One key, I think, was speed," Fitzgerald detailed. "I wasn't fishing slowly. I was making as many pitches and drops with the jig as possible, covering water. I'd drop it in once, shake it and then it was onto the next target. I was really in search mode. Once I got a big bite, then I would slow down."

McMillan third

Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., ended the week in third place with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 3 ounces worth $10,000.

`Big Mac' (a nickname coined by McMillan's sponsor, Lionel Botha, owner of Halo rods) is usually considered a committed mat puncher but this week he sampled the big jig bite as well.Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., ended the week in third place with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 3 ounces worth $10,000.
"The risk in committing to mat punching is that there is a lot of wasted time moving from one mat to another," McMillan explained. "A lot of times I kick the trolling motor on high and have to troll 30 or 40 yards to the next mat without fishing and that's a lot of down time. If the mat bite is really strong, I don't mind that kind of down time. But if the mat bite is so-so, it adds up to a lot of lost fishing time."

"So I purposely stayed in water that offered a mix of both punching mats and pitching a jig to reeds," he continued. "That way, as I moved from one mat to another, I could pitch reed clumps in between with the jig. And I ended up catching a few bonus fish from the reeds, so it worked out well."

McMillan's lures of choice included a Gambler B.B. Cricket and a Zoom Z-Hog on a 1-1/2-ounce tungsten for punching and a ¾-ounce 4X4 jig for pitching to reeds.

Malone fourth
Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, finished fourth with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,300.
Paul Malone of Pleasant Valley, Iowa, finished fourth with a three-day total of 55 pounds, 8 ounces worth $9,300.

Malone spent most of his week in the Monkey Box alternating between pitching reeds with a jig and punching mats.

"I did catch some key fish out of the mats, but each day most of my fish came from the reeds," Malone said. "I feel like the fish were staging under the mats and spawning around the reeds and I'd kind of bounce back and forth depending on the time of day."

His jig fishing was done with the 1-ounce Medlock's Double-Guard jig trailed with a big chunk and his punching was done with a beaver on a 1-1/2-ounce tungsten with a Trokar hook. Both were tied to 70-pound Daiwa Samurai braid.


Brill fifth

Chris Brill of Lehigh Acres, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 4 ounces for $8,000.
Chris Brill of Lehigh Acres, Fla., finished fifth with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 4 ounces for $8,000.
Brill spent the first two days of his week in Pelican Bay. On day one he casted a Gambler EZ Swimmer in McMillan's Magic and a 3/8-ounce 4X4 swimjig (black/blue) also trailed with the same EZ Swimmer.

"I'd cover water casting the EZ Swimmer until I got a bite or two, then I would slow down and fish a little more thoroughly with the swimjig," Brill explained. "On day two, a lot of fishing pressure came into the area, so I switched up to pitching a 1-ounce 4X4 jig into water lettuce mats."

"Today I stayed up near J&S and went back to casting the EZ Swimmer and the swimjig," he added.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee:

6th: Casey Martin of New Market, Ala., three-day total of 46-4, $7,000
7th: Kyle Monti of Okeechobee, Fla., three-day total of 46-2, $6,000
8th: Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., three-day total of 45-9, $5,000
9th: Preston Clark of Eagle Lake, Fla., three-day total of 44-15, $4,000
10th: Keith Fels of Ocala, Fla., three-day total of 36-2, $3,000

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2013-01-10-lake-okeechobee 

/news/2016-07-24-1000-islands-top-10-baits

1000 Islands Top 10 Baits

The top pros from the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands kept it pretty simple to catch both largemouths and smallmouths from this massive fishery that includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Drop-shots, spinnerbaits and jigs all saw action and got it done from the lake to the river. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-24-penn-state-taps-docks-at-chautauqua-

Penn State Taps Docks at Chautauqua

The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-thompson-co-angler-champ-on-1000-islands

Thompson Co-angler Champ on 1000 Islands

The 1000 Islands is a great place to take a vacation, especially if you are from the south and want to escape the heat. That is exactly what co-angler Joe Thompson of Clayton, Ga., did and wound up capturing the top spot in the co-angler division bringing home a Ranger Z117 with a 90 hp motor. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-penn-state-university-wins-flw-college-fishing-northern-conference-event-on-chautauqua-lake

Penn State University wins FLW College Fishing Northern Conference Event on Chautauqua Lake

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. – The Penn State University duo of Clayton Frey of York, Pennsylvania, and Derek Horner, of State College, Pennsylvania, won the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event at Chautauqua Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and qualified the team for the 2017 FLW College Fishing National... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-michigan-s-dobson-leads-wire-to-wire-wins-costa-flw-series-event-at-1000-islands-presented-by-mercury

Michigan’s Dobson leads wire-to-wire, wins Costa FLW Series Event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury

CLAYTON, N.Y. – Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event at 1000 Islands presented by Mercury with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 68 pounds, 8 ounces. For his win, Dobson earned $82,669, including a new Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-23-dobson-dominates-1000-islands

Dobson Dominates 1000 Islands

Scott Dobson didn’t expect it to come so quickly, but 30 minutes is all it took for him to find the winning pattern during his first day of practice for the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. That pattern would lead him to three consecutive limits of more than 20 pounds, including today’s final-round bag worth 21-12 – the day’s biggest limit, yet his smallest of the tournament. His three-day total weight of 68-8 earned him a check for more than $37,000 along with a Ranger Z518C with a 200-hp engine for being Ranger Cup qualified. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-2

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 2

Strong winds limited competition to only the St. Lawrence River on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands, but that was no problem for the majority of the top 10. Even though most of them fished Lake Ontario on day one, they were able to adjust and stay on the fish today. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-dobson-extends-lead-at-1000-islands

Dobson Extends Lead at 1000 Islands

A windy day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands didn’t stop day-one leader Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., from sacking up the biggest bag of the day. Dobson threw down an impressive 22-pound, 3-ounce limit to extend his lead to 5 pounds over Cal Climpson – a noted Lake Ontario maestro. Dobson’s two-day total stands at 46-12, and with lighter winds tomorrow some big bags are expected. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-22-lake-ontario-out-for-day-2

Lake Ontario Out for Day 2

It is never good when you wake up the morning of a tournament and every flag you see is standing straight out at 3 a.m., but that was the case this morning for day two of the Costa FLW Series event on the 1000 Islands. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-1000-islands-top-5-patterns-day-1

1000 Islands Top 5 Patterns Day 1

Past experience on this fishery seems to be a big advantage for the top pros through one day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands. Scott Dobson leads the way with 24 pounds, 9 ounces, yet there are some serious hammers right on his heels. Dobson fished both the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario for his limit, while others went straight to the lake and stayed there. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-dobson-drops-24-9

Dobson Drops 24-9

Despite the weights being dropped on the scale for the opening round of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event on the 1000 Islands presented by Mercury, it has actually been a tough day of fishing. Strong winds made it hard for the anglers regardless of if they were fishing the lake or river. Smallmouth guru Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Mich., sacked up 24 pounds, 9 ounces on day one to take a 1-8 lead over Canadian stick Cal Climpson. Dobson utilized both the river and lake for his limit, which could play to his advantage if the wind blows like the weathermen are forecasting tomorrow. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-professional-bass-fishing-s-forrest-wood-cup-set-to-visit-wheeler-lake

Professional Bass Fishing’s Forrest Wood Cup set to visit Wheeler Lake

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart, the world championship of professional bass fishing, will visit Wheeler Lake and the Huntsville, Alabama, area August 4-7 to crown bass fishing’s top angler of 2016. Hosted by the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tournament will feature 50 of the world’s best bass-fishing... READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-1000-islands-midday-update-day-1

1000 Islands Midday Update Day 1

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division event presented by Mercury at 1000 Islands hasn’t been about if the wind will blow, but when. Everyone knew the gales were coming eventually. Still, the majority of anglers hung a left out of the dock this morning and charged toward Lake Ontario into a steady breeze that turned into a howling wind by midmorning. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-2016-forrest-wood-cup-angler-intro-music

2016 Forrest Wood Cup Angler Intro Music

Each season, the anglers that make the Forrest Wood Cup get to choose the intro music that will play when they walk out on stage at weigh-ins. Naturally, the selections vary as widely as the anglers’ personalities and backgrounds – David Dudley once selected the Chicken Dance song, if that tells you anything. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-21-transition-time-at-1000-islands

Transition Time at 1000 Islands

The second tournament of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division kicked off on 1000 Islands in an event presented by Mercury this morning out of the Clayton Village Ramp. The 137 pros and co-anglers are challenged with the tough task of dissecting not only the massive St. Lawrence River but also Lake Ontario in search of jumbo-size smallmouths. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-20-solving-the-1000-islands-puzzle

Solving the 1000 Islands Puzzle

For its second stop, the 2016 Costa FLW Series Northern Division heads back to the 1000 Islands region of upstate New York for the first time since 2012. The 1000 Islands region includes the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario and produces some of the best smallmouth fishing on the planet with 4- and 5-pounders being the norm, not the exception. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-19-forrest-wood-cup-attractions-

Forrest Wood Cup Attractions

Fifty FLW anglers all taking a run at the most coveted title in bass fishing will without doubt take center stage over the course of the four-day Forrest Wood Cup presented by Walmart in Huntsville, Ala., Aug. 4-7, but fans won’t have to wait for the daily weigh-in times to soak up all the action. FLW and its sponsors and partners put together a full schedule of additional events to coincide with the 2016 Cup. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-19-2016-icast-wrap-up

2016 ICAST Wrap-up

Even at a distance, ICAST can be a blur of new fishing stuff. Below, we’ve gathered everything we published from the week at ICAST – if you missed something, you can find it here. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-18-sisk-by-ounces-on-ohio-river

Sisk by Ounces on Ohio River

Marty Sisk of Evansville, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 13 ounces, Saturday to win the third FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Illini Division tournament of 2016 on the Ohio River. For his victory, Sisk took home $7,456. READ MORE »

/news/2016-07-18-boggs-flipped-shallow-wood-for-title

Boggs Flipped Shallow Wood for Title

Drew Boggs of Lebanon, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 10 ounces, Saturday to win the fourth FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Music City Division tournament of 2016 on Old Hickory Lake. Boggs took home $3,028 for his victory. READ MORE »