UPCOMING EVENT: Rayovac FLW Series - 2015 - Lake Champlain

Fels’ Redemption

Keith Fels of Ocala, Fla., wins the Rayovac FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 15 ounces.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - For an entire year Keith Fels of Ocala, Fla., has had to live with the nightmare that occurred last year at the Rayovac FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee. In that event, Fels entered the final day of the event in fifth place. Everything was going according to plan on the last day, including the 20-plus pounds that was swimming in his livewell. Then his cranking battery died. He was able to jump it off and made a fateful decision to keep the outboard running in neutral while he fished from the front deck without his kill switch attached. The grievous error constituted a rules infraction that requires the kill switch to be attached to the pro anytime the motor is running. As result, Fels catch for the day was disqualified, costing him his first Rayovac Series win. Today, Fels redeemed himself from the mistake, holding a Rayovac FLW Series trophy in his hands. "Redemption," sighed an exasperated Fels, who is a driver for Fed Ex in Ocala. "This helps make up for last year for sure. That's 40 grand I can use to pay off my truck and boat." Keith Fels shows off his tournament winning fish. Fels took a healthy 12-pound lead into the final day, but his four-bass bag weighing in at only 7 pounds, 15 ounces today left the door open. Jared McMillan tried to take advantage of the opportunity to rain on Fels' wire-to-wire parade, but Fels had built up too much of a lead overcome with his previous days' bags of 20 pounds, 9 ounces and 26 pounds, 7 ounces, respectively. In the end, Fels held on to victory with a three-day total of 54 pounds, 15 ounces, winning by 2 pounds, 4 ounces. And Fels might forever remember the 10-pound, 9-ounce monster he caught on day 2 - that he had to hand-line in after his line broke - which pushed him over the top. Fels' week centered on pitching a Gambler 1-1/4-ounce Jigzilla, trailed with a Gambler Megadaddy trailer (both black/blue), into holes in hydrilla in several feet of water. He fished the big jig on 65-pound braid with Fitzgerald's Rods in lengths of 7-foot, 6-inches and 7-foot, 10 inches. Fels could not confirm whether the fish were bedding in the holes saying, "the water was too dingy to see down that far." As to why his catch fell off so dramatically today, Fels said that the wind wreaked havoc on his boat control in the matted hydrilla. "The last couple of days I could ease down the little trails nice and quietly, but today the wind would blow me into big mats and my trolling motor would bog down and I'd pull up 500 pounds of hydrilla every time." Little Mac second Jared McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., finished runner-up with a three-day total of 52 pounds, 11 ounces worth $15,500. Jared McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., finished runner-up with a three-day total of 52 pounds, 11 ounces.. McMillan, sometimes called "Little Mac" since his brother (Brandon) is known as "Big Mac," proved he is ready to run with big boys today when he brought in the day's heaviest catch at 19 pounds, 1 ounce, forcing Fels to earn his victory. All week McMillan stuck to his game plan of casting Gambler Big EZ swimbaits (copperfield and gold rush) across shallow vegetation to tease bass into biting. If the fish missed the swimmer, McMillan would quickly pitch a Gambler Why Not right back to where the fish blew up. On several occasions his one-two punch was rewarded with big bass. "I caught fish on the Big EZ, but I also used it as a search bait to get the fish to show themselves," McMillan said. "I would fan cast that Big EZ around until one blew up on it, then I knew right where to put the Why Not to get the bite." McMillan's Big EZ was rigged with a Paycheck Screwed-up weight and a 6/0 Gamakatsu hook while his Why Not was rigged with a 1/2-ounce weight. Both were tied to 65-pound test Suffix braid. Haynes third Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., finished third with a three-day total of 49 pounds, 2 ounces worth $12,000. Ledgemaster turned flipmaster: Randy Haynes of Counce, Tenn., used the short string to catch his fish this week, turning in his best Florida performance yet, third place with 49-2. Third place in the shallow weed bowl of Okeechobee is actually a personal victory for Haynes who is better known for his savvy with electronics on TVA ledges in the summer. "It's taken me some time to learn what's what down here, but this week it clicked a little better for me on that flipping bite," Haynes said. "It's hard to stay with that flipping bite when you can see guys out there in that open water catching them. But the better quality bite was in that flipping. It tried me mentally but I stuck with it and it paid off." Haynes punching set-ups for the week included Missile D-Bombs and Strike King Rodents fished under Reins 1-1/2 and 2-ounce tungsten weights. He tied the punch baits to 66-pound test Toray braided line on a 7-foot, 11-inch Kistler rods with Lew's reels. Osinski fourth Val Osinski of Pompano Beach, Fla., finished fourth with a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces worth $10,000. Val Osinski of Pompano Beach, Fla., finished fourth with a three-day total of 46 pounds, 7 ounces worth $10,000. As the owner of Gambler Lures, Osinski was running his newest flipping creation, the Why Not, up the flagpole this week and apparently Okeechobee bass gave it the thumbs up. Osinski targeted primarily pennywort mats with the Why Not, punching it through with a Reins 1.2-ounce sinker. "We designed the Why Not to be compact for punching," Osinski said. "Yet the body is thick enough to hold the bigger hooks in place so the hook point is not constantly poking out and hanging up. The ones I'm using are the first run and they will available for purchase next week." Pace fifth Keith Pace of Monticello, Ark., rounds out the top five with a three-day total of 45 pounds, 3 ounces worth $9,000. Keith Pace of Monticello, Ark., rounds out the top five with a three-day total of 45 pounds, 3 ounces. During the week Pace primarily relied on a big 7-inch Yamamoto Senko (junebug) paired with a 11/0 Owner hook - that's correct, an 11/0 worm hook - as well as a Zoom Horny Toad in green pumpkin. Both were tied to 60-pound test Spiderwire. "Sometimes they would blow up on the Horny Toad and I would throw that big Senko back over there where they blew up and they would inhale it," Pace said. "This morning I caught a 7-pounder on it on about my 15th cast and that got my heart going." Rest of the best Rounding out the top-10 pros in the Rayovac FLW Series event on Okeechobee: 6th: Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, Fla., three-day total: 44-8, $8,000 7th: Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., three-day total: 44-4, $7,000 8th: Miles Burghoff of Guntersville, Ala., three-day total: 43-1, $6000 9th: Thomas Helton of Charleston, Tenn., three-day total: 42-3, $5000 10th: Kent Ware of Wadmalaw Island, S.C., three-day total: 40-6, $4,000

Tags: headline-story 


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 »