Sunshine State drizzly departure

226 boats headed out into the drizzling rain at the 2014 Lake Okeechobee Rayovac FLW Series.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - As a jam-packed tournament field of 226 boats headed out towards Lake Okeechobee this morning for the season opener of the Rayovac FLW Series in Florida, some anglers were wondering if they were still in the Sunshine State. "Looks like Seattle to me!" one angler hollered to another through the persistent drizzle that qualified as rain at times. "No sun today, but at least it's warm!" Perhaps the "polar vortex" is to blame, but indeed Rayovac FLW Series anglers will fish in dreary, balmy and rainy conditions today, a large departure from normal Big O sunshine. Earlier in the week, a blast of cold air did truck all the way down through South Florida, dropping night time temperatures into the upper 30's on the top end of Okeechobee. As a result, the water temperature took a substantial hit, dropping some 15 degrees. Those who are ice fishing in Minnesota today may chuckle at a drop in water temperature "of some 15 degrees," but at Okeechobee, that's a serious decline for Florida bass.Former Okeechobee FLW Tour winner Brandon McMillan is ready for action on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series. Since then the air temperatures have moderated back into the 60's and 70's, but it's the sunshine that's needed to get the water temps back up out of the high 50's. And that's not going to happen today. "It's been a while since we've had a cold front like this down here," said former Okeechobee FLW Tour and Rayovac FLW Series winner Brandon McMillan. "All last year we never really had any real cold weather to speak of, so it's a bit of a surprise to these bass." The good news, according to McMillan, is that such cold water temperatures tends to bottleneck the spawn a bit more, creating bigger "waves" of fish that will come in at one time when the biological clock resumes with warmer temperatures. "When it's warm all winter, these fish can just kind of meander around and spawn anytime they want," McMillan said. "When we get some real cold weather, it tends to put more fish on the same spawning schedule. Some of the best years we've had down here involved some pretty cold weather during the winter to bunch the fish up to come in at the same time." "But we really need some sun to get the water warmed back up and I don't think that will happen today," he added. "Maybe by Friday afternoon or Saturday it will warm back up into the mid 60's. For that reason I think weights will actually increase as the week goes on. If we had a full moon coming in it would be awesome - that's the perfect storm down here - cold weather and then a warm up that coincides with the full moon." Okeechobee icon Mike Surman says despite the cold water and lack of sun, big bags will still train to the scales this week. "Everyone likes the sun down here because it helps the sight-fishing and flipping bite," Surman said. "But the casting and reeling game with soft swimmers like the Big EZ's is still a force here. It hasn't Mike Surman readies a Gambler Big EZ for battle.been a factor the last couple of years, but things are setting up right for that kind of bite in this event." Surman predicts that by this afternoon's weigh-in there will be a limit or two in the 25- to 28-pound range and a limit or two in the 23- to 25-pound range. "I also think you'll see a lot more limits in the 18-pound range, which has been rare here the last few years," he said. "Normally you'll have a few bags over 20-pounds then there is a gap down to about 16 pounds. But this year there seems to be a lot more of that 3- to 4-pound class fish that can land you in that 18-pound category." Logistics Anglers will take off from C. Scott Driver Park located at 10100 W. Highway 78 in Okeechobee, Fla., at 7:30 a.m. daily. Weigh-ins will be held at the launch site beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Gilbert Chevrolet located at 3550 U.S. 441 in Okeechobee at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public Thursday's conditions Sunrise: 7:14 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 64 degrees Expected high temperature: 74 degrees Water temperature: 58 degrees Wind: NE 5 to 10 Day's outlook: cloudy, rainy with thunderstorms late

Tags: morning-story 

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Tricky Transition at Beaver

Though Beaver Lake is an annual stop for the Walmart FLW Tour, that doesn’t mean it is an easy lake to decipher. This year’s event, which is presented by Rayovac, is later into the spring than usual and is causing some major head scratching among the 154 pros in the field. There’s no doubt that some fish can be found on beds, however, they are mostly small. The consensus is that a lot of fish are stuck in limbo between the spawn and prespawn phase on this White River impoundment. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-16-fog-delays-grand-lake-start

Fog Delays Grand Lake Start

It’s no secret that the first Rayovac FLW Series Central Division event of the year on Grand Lake has collided perfectly with the spawn. Nearly every shallow pocket on the lake holds dozens upon dozens of bass that are eager to do their deed. The 197 pros making up a record-setting Central Division field could hardly contain themselves to get on the water this morning. The only issue was fog – and lots of it. With a 7 a.m. CT takeoff planned, a heavy blanket of fog delayed the start of the tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, until 8:30, when the fog lifted enough for safe travel but was still hanging around just enough to be a hindrance to those looking to sight-fish. READ MORE »

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Weather Woes Greet College Anglers

It was supposed to be a shallow-water bassfest, with largemouths and spots roaming Lake Murray’s shoreline to feast on spawning blueback herring. That still might happen as the FLW College Fishing National Championship plays out the next three days here, but the fishing is more likely to be ad lib than follow any script. The dreary, damp weather that settled over the region Wednesday during the last day of practice is the culprit. Not only did it hamper the efforts of contestants looking for the last bedding fish of the season, but also those depending on a consistent blueback herring bite to gin up the action. Still, the consensus of opinion is that one pattern or the other will prevail, and settle the question of college bragging rights for the next year as well as send the winning team to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita in August. READ MORE »

/news/2015-04-09-swollen-rayburn-challenges-anglers

Swollen Rayburn Challenges Anglers

High water, high winds and high hopes – that’s the forecast for the Rayovac FLW Series Texas Division event on Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Mercury, which kicked off today at the Umphrey Family Pavilion. Torrential rains of recent weeks have swollen this Angelina River impoundment, and a huge downpour last weekend has all but stymied efforts to lower the water level. Currently, the lake sits about 5 feet above normal – a level not seen here in more than 15 years. Realistically, anglers aren’t looking for much, if any, decline this week – particularly given the approaching storm system. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-26-front-and-center

Front and Center

There is little doubt it’s coming. The uncertainty lies in what will happen because of it. If the forecast holds true, at some point this evening the severe weather system that dropped tornados across the central plains Wednesday will arrive at Lewis Smith Lake. Along with the rain and thunder, the front promises to bring with it a significant drop in temperature, with lows projected in the low 30s by the weekend. It’s a storm that looms over the 154 pros and co-anglers set to fish the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude and hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce. And while they, the anglers, should stay dry, the weather might be the key question mark for a tournament already overflowing with them. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-20-record-catch-for-record-college-field-

Record Catch for Record College Field?

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Panama City, beach parties, Florida sunshine, bikini weather – big deal. Who needs Spring Break when you’ve got Kentucky Lake in March? OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but how else to explain why a record-setting number of teams showed up for the FLW College Fishing Open tournament here? The official tally of bass fishing teams is 201, according to College Fishing Tournament Director Kevin Hunt, making this the largest collegiate fishing event ever. Teams from every corner of the country are represented here, with squads from as far away as Eastern Washington University competing the next two days. A flotilla left Moor’s Resort & Marina this morning, with individual boats scattering in all directions. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-19-guntersville-grab-bag

Guntersville Grab Bag

Lake Guntersville will always have a place in bass-fishing history – most recently because of Paul Elias and the umbrella rig ­– but it represents so much more. With boat ramps seemingly on every street corner, and a town and community that caters to anglers like no other, the legendary lake is always a popular stop. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-06-toho-midday-report-day-2

Toho Midday Report Day 2

If you’ve been following the FLW On The Water feed, you might have seen a slight uptick in the reports in the last hour or so. A crisp north wind, which was cold enough to force many anglers into their rain gear this morning, seems to have tapered off to a breeze. Down south on Kissimmee the sun is shining. And as the weather has improved, so too has the bite – as evidenced by the sudden surge in fish-catching reports. The increase in action is good news for many anglers who experienced slower fishing this morning than yesterday. Stacey King, who came into today in second place, is among that group. Unfortunately for day-one leader JT Kenney, “slow” for King is still pretty good. He’s got a limit, including a pair of 4-pounders, and has already culled. That makes King our unofficial leader right now. READ MORE »

/news/2015-03-05-boom-or-bust-at-toho

Boom or Bust at Toho

To varying degrees of success, tournament anglers are used to figuring out lakes that seemingly are a bundle of contradictions. Be that as it may, Lake Toho threatens to boggle their collective minds as the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour kickoff event presented by Mercury gets underway this morning. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-11-mighty-amistad-issues-a-challenge

Mighty Amistad Issues a Challenge

Legendary south Texas reservoir Lake Amistad has hosted some of FLW’s most infamous smash-fests – the kind of tournaments where anglers weren’t challenged to catch fish, but were pushed to keep up with the competition when 20- and even 30-pound stringers were being hauled across the stage. READ MORE »

/news/2015-02-05-heating-up-on-havasu

Heating Up on Havasu

Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – Warming weather could provide the spark that is needed to ignite a big-time bite on Lake Havasu this week for the first event of the 2015 Rayovac FLW Series Western Division, which is presented by Mercury. Past FLW events on Havasu have been plagued by lower temperatures and strong winds that slowed the bite – fishing was good, but the anglers didn’t experience the lake’s full potential. The last few days on the Colorado River impoundment, however, have seen temperatures near 80 degrees with nearly no wind. As it stands now, the forecast for competition days is calling for more of the same, and many of the 152 pros in this tournament feel like that could open things up. READ MORE »

/news/2015-01-22-here-they-come

Here They Come

Big things are coming on Lake Okeechobee – big bass, big weights and the biggest tournament field in Rayovac FLW Series history. READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-30-grinding-wheel-er

Grinding Wheel-er

ROGERSVILLE, Ala. – The story was much the same among the 141 pro and co-anglers that launched out of Joe Wheeler State Park this morning for the first day of the Rayovac FLW Series Championship on Wheeler Lake. Fishing on the Tennessee River in the fall can be hit or miss and right now anglers are experiencing the latter. READ MORE »

/news/2014-10-09-a-clear-challenge

A Clear Challenge

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/news/2014-10-02-rayburn-returns

Rayburn Returns

ZAVALLA, Texas – If Sam Rayburn Reservoir were a stock on Wall Street, now would be the time to buy. READ MORE »

/news/2014-09-18-the-mississippi-mix-up

The Mississippi Mix-Up

LA CROSSE, Wis. – Things are much different since the last time the Rayovac FLW Series Central Division launched from the Clinton Street Landing back in 2012. Cooler temperatures, higher water levels and scattered fish will make things interesting for the 119 pros and co-anglers this week on the Mississippi River. READ MORE »

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James River Jam

RICHMOND, Va. – On tidal fisheries like the James River, optimism and opportunity are inextricably linked to water level. For anglers competing in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division, today’s tide schedule will present a brief period of opportunity, followed by a long grind the rest of the day. READ MORE »

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Hopes High on Champlain

PLATTSBURGH, NY - Fair weather and a fishery flush with bassin’ options fueled contagious optimism among the 142 competitors squaring off in the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event on Lake Champlain. READ MORE »

/news/2014-06-26-kentucky-lake-the-pressure-is-palpable

Kentucky Lake: The pressure is palpable

PARIS LANDING, Tenn. – If the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Evinrude needed a theme song, David Bowie’s rendition of “Under Pressure” would be as good as it gets. The entire field will be under more pressure than usual as the four-day competition opens this morning. There’s the pressure to win or at least take advantage of a final opportunity to take home a good check this season, the pressure to pull out all the stops and make up ground in the Angler of the Year standings and gain entry into the Forrest Wood Cup, the pressure to not take chances and lose a shot at the Cup – and so it goes. READ MORE »

/news/2014-06-05-the-task-of-timing

The Task of Timing

FLORENCE, Ala. – Fishing tournaments inherently rely on timed competition – get as much weight as you can within the allotted time frame. However, as the country's top 49 boaters and co-anglers take to Wilson Lake for the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy timing will greatly impact outcomes. READ MORE »