Live now : Walmart FLW Tour 2016 Lake Okeechobee

From tenth to the top for Taylor

EverStart Series shocker: Rick Taylor of West Olive, Mich., rockets from 10th to first to claim victory on Wheeler Lake.

ROGERSVILLE, Ala. - With each pro that mounted the stage and failed to take the lead on the final day of the EverStart Series event, Rick Taylor of West Olive, Mich., would do a small victory spin in the Ranger hot seat.

Taylor, who entered the day in 10th, was the first weigh in - and weigh in he did, laying 21 pounds, 12 ounces in the scales to set the leader bar at 57 pounds, 9 ounces, giving him the first claim to the swiveling seat.

At first, Taylor had fun with it. Spinning around in the chair as each pro exited the stage. But as it got down to the final three pros, Taylor became a little more surprised at how fast he was climbing up through the standings. And when day-two leader Brian Merriman failed to knock him out of the swirling hot seat, the only thing left spinning was Taylor's head as he tried to process that he had just won the tournament.Rick Taylor shows off one of his victory fish.

"This unbelievable!" Taylor said in shock. "I can't believe that just happened. I just won this thing! From 10th to first! Unreal."

"I'm from Michigan," he continued. "I came down here for a fishing vacation, just to get away from the cold and get a break from work. I registered for all of these events this year, but was unable to get away all year to fish any of the others. Finally I got a break and decided to come down and fish this last one."

"And I just won this thing!" he exclaimed again.

On day one, Taylor weighed in 20 pounds, 6 ounces to start the event tied for second. On day two a lighter limit of 15 pounds, 7 ounces sunk him to 10th and he made the top-10 cut by just a single ounce. Today he rallied back with his best catch of the week, leapfrogging 9 other pros for victory.

All week Taylor fished a single bay right off the main river in the Decatur area. The shallow pocket was lined with grass and bushes and according to Taylor, bass were flocking in there off the river by the droves to spawn.

"It was unbelievable how fast the fish were replenishing in there," he said. "I would make a pass through there, catch a bunch of fish, fish through it again and catch more fish off the very same bushes or logs where I had just caught them an hour before. It was like as soon as I caught one, there was another one waiting in line to takes its place. Entire schools were moving in there to spawn. I've never seen anything like it."
Rick Taylor
He described his productive area as being about 2 acres in size. He also said every fish had a bloody tail, a sure sign of spawning activity. His lighter limit on day two was due to high winds crashing into the bay, rendering it unfishable. But the blessing in disguise was the wind kept others from fishing the area as well.

"The first day, there were a lot of boats that made a pass through there," Taylor explained. "And they caught fish, too. But on day two, you just could not fish it because of the wind. Today, the wind died, there were far fewer boats trying to fish in there and everything just got right."

Taylor flipped the bushes with a Rite Bite tube (black neon) teamed with 5/16-ounce tungsten weight tied to 25-pound test Trilene monofilament. A lot of the bushes he targeted were extremely shallow, some with less than a foot of water on them.

He estimates that between he and his co-angler, nearly a 100 pounds of bass came from the magical bay over three days.


Kenney second JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., brought in a closing round limit of 17 pounds, 4 ounces to finish runner-up with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 14 ounces.

JT Kenney of Palm Bay, Fla., brought in a closing round limit of 17 pounds, 4 ounces to finish runner-up with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 14 ounces worth $10,859.

Kenney bounced back and forth between shallow spawning areas and deep post-spawn points during the week.

On day one he caught two of his weigh fish shallow and three out deep. On day two, his entire limit came shallow. Today, he caught a decent limit shallow and then went deep to make two nice culls.

His shallow area and deepwater spot were some 20 miles apart.

"The shallow stuff was spawning areas - bushes and grass," Kenney said. "The fish were definitely still spawning. I caught them flipping a Senko, flipping a tube and working a Kopper's Live Target frog over grass. Today I caught some on a BassTrix swimbait. I think there was a little bit of a shad spawn starting to happen in there as well, and they would clobber that swimbait."

As for the deep areas, Kenney relied on a Strike King 6XD.

"The deep places were classic post-spawn points down the lake," he said. "Today I made the right call. I got a decent limit early up shallow and felt like the best way to cull up was to go deep. So I ran down to the cranking spots and culled a couple of times on the cranking plug."

Fitts third
Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Fla., finished third with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 11 ounces worth $7,240.
Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Fla., finished third with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 11 ounces worth $7,240.

Fitts spent the week fishing shallow in one little pocket for bass that were spawning around bushes and shallow grass.

His key baits included a Jethro Baits Headknocker jig (black/blue) and a Willie Toad (green pumpkin pearl) rigged with a Trokar TK120 4/0 hook tied to 50-pound test P-Line braid.

"When it was calm and sunny, I'd flip the jig to bushes for bass that were spawning at the bases," Fitts said. "When it would get cloudy and windy, I'd switch to the Willie Toad and they would annihilate that thing."

Lee fourth
Jordan Lee of Auburn, Ala., finished fourth with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 8 ounces.
Jordan Lee of Auburn, Ala., finished fourth with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 8 ounces worth $6,172.

Lee focused his efforts shallow as well in the Decatur Flats area, targeting fish that were moving up out of the river to spawn.

He pitched and flipped a Yum Mighty Bug and Craw Papi on a 3/8-ounce weight and also caught a few fish on a Booyah Boogie bladed swimjig.
"I'd flip the Mighty Bug in bushes," Lee said. "Then I used the Craw Papi on undercut banks just off the river. Anytime I got around grass I'd throw the Boogie bait. I mostly rotated through those three lures, depending on the cover."

Kreiger fifth

Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., rounded out the top five with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 5 ounces worth $5,792.

When the calendar turns to May, you can bet Kreiger has Pop-R P-70 glued in his hands and that's what much of his catch came on during the week.Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., rounded out the top five with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 5 ounces.

The Pop-R was in a baby bass color and tied to 20-pound test McCoy monofilament line.

"I was targeting green bushes or laydowns," Kreiger said. "Really anything that most guys would flip a tube or jig to, except I like to slide the old P-70 in there and pop it around until the fish can't stand it."

Rest of the best

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

6th: Chad Aaron of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., three-day total of 51-10, $5,068
7th: Brian Merriman of Falkville, Ala., three-day total of 51-7, $4,344
8th: William Davis of Sheffield, Ala., three-day total of 50-14, $3,620
9th: Josh Dorr of Pickens, S.C., three-day total of 48-12, $2,896
10th: Eddie Jewell of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., three-day total of 48-3, $2,172

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2013-05-09-wheeler-lake 

/news/2016-02-06-okeechobee-day-3-coverage

Okeechobee Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-top-5-patterns-from-lake-okeechobee-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Okeechobee Day 2

Fueled by 25 mph north winds, the Lake Okeechobee washing machine cleansed some livewells today, keeping them free of the 20-pound limits that are so common here when the weather is sunny, 75 and calm. However, a few 20-plus-pound limits still snuck through the rinse cycle to grace the scales. The biggest limit once again belonged to Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla. He added 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the 25 he caught on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-oklahoma-s-hallman-extends-lead-at-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Oklahoma’s Hallman Extends Lead at Walmart FLW Tour on Lake Okeechobee Presented by Ranger Boats

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Pro angler Bradley Hallman of Norman, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale Friday to extend his lead on day two of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Hallman will bring an 8-pound, 8-ounce advantage into day three of the four-day competition that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-cales-earns-co-angler-win

Cales Earns Co-angler Win

Co-angler Tim Cales of Sandstone, W.Va., earned his second win with FLW after sacking up 30 pounds, 11 ounces over two days in the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-hallman-way-in-front

Hallman Way in Front

Bradley Hallman is doing his best to make the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats a one-man show. But Alabama pro Alex Davis hopes to spoil Hallman’s hopes of a wire-to-wire victory. Today, Hallman weighed in 25 pounds, 7 ounces to raise his two-day total to 50-07. He’s led the tournament each day thus far. Davis weighed in 20-15 to move from third to second but is still 8 1/2 pounds behind the leader. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-05-okeechobee-day-2-coverage

Okeechobee Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-top-5-patterns-from-the-okeechobee-tour-day-1

Top 5 Patterns from the Okeechobee Tour Day 1

The Walmart FLW Tour has been coming to Lake Okeechobee for the better part of 20 years. And for a vast majority of those years, the north end of the lake has been the business end – where the business of fish catching is done. Today, that tradition was derailed in the first round of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Hendry County Tourism Development Council. Though some boats did sample the Harney Pond area up north, many of the normal fish-producing haunts such as the Monkey Box, Dyess Ditch and Fisheating Bay were complete ghost towns. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-hallman-leads-day-one-of-walmart-flw-tour-on-lake-okeechobee-presented-by-ranger-boats

Hallman Leads Day One Of Walmart FLW Tour On Lake Okeechobee Presented By Ranger Boats

Oklahoma pro Bradley Hallman, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 25 pounds even Thursday to grab the early lead after day one of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Right behind him in second place is renowned Okeechobee angler Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, who weighed in five bass totaling 22-8. Hallman now brings a 2½-pound lead into day two of the four-day READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-hallman-takes-the-lead-with-25

Hallman Takes the Lead with 25

The old saying is that the third time is the charm, but for Bradley Hallman of Norman, Okla., it’s more like the first time is the charm. Hallman is fishing his first Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. It’s the first day of the first Tour event of 2016, and Hallman sits in first place with 25 pounds even. Norman, Okla., pro Bradley Hallman sacked up an impressive 25-pound limit of bass to take the lead on day one of the Walmart FLW Tour opener on Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-04-okeechobee-day-1-coverage

Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-03-5-key-areas-on-okeechobee

5 Key Areas on Okeechobee

There are many well-known areas on Lake Okeechobee that are commonly talked about around the docks before and after each event, but five key spots in particular will certainly play a role in this week’s Walmart FLW Tour opener. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-03-5-to-watch-on-okeechobee

5 to Watch on Okeechobee

This year, the Big O is giving the 169-boat field a different look than they’ve seen in past years in the form of high, dirty water. The odds could favor the locals more than in years past, though the caliber of skill among the entire field is over the top. Really, it could be anyone’s tournament. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-02-scouting-the-big-o-with-wesley-strader

Scouting the Big O with Wesley Strader

Wesley Strader is known and admired for his unique wit and constant cheer, but his consistency is what has been the true hallmark of his successful fishing career. Last week, that consistency paid off with the first big win he’s had since 2002 at the B.A.S.S. Open on the Kissimmee Chain in central Florida. Now he’s got his eye on starting the Walmart FLW Tour season on the right foot a few hours south at Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-okeechobee-practice-with-scott-martin

Okeechobee Practice with Scott Martin

Scott Martin is heading into the first Walmart FLW Tour event of the season with a full head of steam. After earning what might be the first of many Angler of the Year titles in 2015, he gets to kick off the year sleeping in his own bed and fishing Lake Okeechobee, the place where he grew up and where he has caught more than 50 bass weighing more than 10 pounds. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-childers-targeted-rocks-for-victory

Childers Targeted Rocks for Victory

Randy Childers of Anderson, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Keowee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Childers earned $4,271. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-childers-wins-flw-bass-fishing-league-savannah-river-division-opener-on-lake-keowee-presented-by-power-pole

Childers Wins FLW Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division Opener on Lake Keowee Presented by Power-Pole

SENECA, S.C. – Randy Childers of Anderson, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 14 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Keowee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Childers earned $4,271. READ MORE »

/news/2016-02-01-bfl-angler-poche-stabbed-to-death

BFL Angler Poche Stabbed to Death

Louisiana angler Dylan Poche, who was just beginning his career as a professional bass fisherman, was stabbed to death late Saturday night after participating in an FLW Bass Fishing League Cowboy Division tournament. Police say they have a suspect in custody. READ MORE »

/news/2016-01-30-ucf-earns-title-on-crescent

UCF Earns Title on Crescent

The University of Central Florida team of Hunter McKamey of Geneva, Tennessee, and Kyle Oliver of Winter Garden, Florida, won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference opener on Crescent Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-01-30-university-of-central-florida-wins-flw-college-fishing-southeastern-conference-opener-on-crescent-lake

University of Central Florida Wins FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference Opener on Crescent Lake

BUNNELL, Fla. – The University of Central Florida team of Hunter McKamey of Geneva, Tennessee, and Kyle Oliver of Winter Garden, Florida, won the FLW College Fishing Southeastern Conference opener on Crescent Lake Saturday with five bass weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces. The victory earned the club $2,000 and advanced the team to the 2017 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

/news/2016-01-29-okeechobee-heating-up

Okeechobee Heating Up

The weather over the last few weeks in Florida has been, well, not so Florida-like. Wave after wave of cold front has riddled the Sunshine State, leaving the bass in lockdown mode. Hope is on the horizon, though, for the entire field of the Walmart FLW Tour with a forecast calling for warmer weather in the days leading up to the start of the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee Feb. 4-7. READ MORE »