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 

/news/2015-05-22-reneau-grabs-lead-on-seminole

Reneau Grabs Lead On Seminole

Though Reneau has weighed in 15-1 and 20-7 over two days for a total of 35 pounds, 8 ounces, he says he is only getting about six bites per day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-2

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 2

A shake-up occurred on day two of the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole. Day one was all about slow, summertime fishing in the lake’s deep timber. Overnight a frontal passage dropped water and air temperatures and left a north wind howling down the lake. As a result, the timber bite cooled off and those fishing shallower waters climbed up the leaderboard. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-22-lake-seminole-day-2-midday-update

Lake Seminole Day 2 Midday Update

The hot summer at Seminole turned back into spring this morning as a cold front blew through the area dropping air temps some 10 degrees with a blustery north wind. Sweatshirts were needed again as the cold air felt more like April than May. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-enfinger-leads-on-seminole

Enfinger Leads On Seminole

Enfinger said he got off to a “fast start” this morning, sacking a limit by 10 a.m., but he only upgraded twice after that, catching about eight keepers on the day. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-top-5-patterns-from-seminole-day-1

Top 5 Patterns From Seminole Day 1

Bradley Enfinger took the day-one lead at the Rayovac FLW Series presented by Evinrude on Lake Seminole fishing suspended bass in timber. Others in the top-5 fished both wood and grass on day one. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-21-lake-seminole-midday-update

Lake Seminole Midday Update

Lake Seminole is known to be more of a quality lake than a quantity lake and that trait showed on the morning of day one as anglers who were catching fish were not necessarily getting many bites, but 3-pound pluses seemed to be the norm for the ones hauled in over the gunnel. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ledges-lift-wilson-to-top

Ledges Lift Wilson to Top

Tim Wilson of Gas City, Indiana, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 29 pounds, 10 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Choo Choo Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Guntersville. For his victory, Wilson earned $5,584. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-two-in-a-row-for-fox

Two in a Row for Fox

Dwight Fox of Gainesboro, Tennessee, weighed four bass totaling 16 pounds, 2 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Mountain Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Cumberland. For his victory, Fox earned $4,463. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-bluff-walls-carry-meredith

Bluff Walls Carry Meredith

GROVE, Okla. – Mitch Meredith of Hulbert, Oklahoma, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Okie Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Meredith earned $7,165. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-tidwell-slows-down-for-title

Tidwell Slows Down for Title

MCCORMICK, S.C. – Brian Tidwell of Seneca, South Carolina, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 11 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League South Carolina Division tournament of 2015 on Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Tidwell earned $3,021. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-ginter-gets-the-win

Ginter Gets the Win

CELINA, Ohio – Gary Ginter of Maplewood, Ohio, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 4 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Buckeye Division tournament of 2015 on Grand Lake. For his victory, Ginter earned $3,963. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-19-jig-does-the-trick-for-roselle

Jig Does the Trick for Roselle

MARBURY, Md. – Mike Roselle of La Plata, Maryland, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 13 ounces Saturday to win the third Walmart Bass Fishing League Shenandoah Division tournament of 2015 on Potomac River. For his victory, Roselle earned $6,235. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-thrift-by-3

Thrift by 3

The “numbers game.” It’s a term that Bryan Thrift used to describe his fishing on Lake Eufaula back in 2013 when he finished runner-up to Randy Haynes in a Walmart FLW Tour event. The method to his numbers madness was to hit as many solitary objects – stumps, brush piles, rocks, logs – on the bottom of Lake Eufaula as humanly possible in an eight-hour tournament day. When Thrift saw that Lake Eufaula was back on the 2015 Walmart FLW Tour schedule for May of this year, he grinned that patented Bryan Thrift grin because he already knew how to crunch the numbers at Eufaula. And Thrift is still grinning. After sacking up a final-day catch of 15 pounds, 5 ounces to top off 69-14 for the week, Thrift made the numbers work for his fourth FLW Tour win. He added another $125,000 to his bank account. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-17-lake-eufaula-day-4-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 4 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-morrow-thrift-neck-and-neck

Morrow, Thrift Neck and Neck

Georgia pro Troy Morrow brought in 15 pounds, 4 ounces on the third day of competition at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula to increase his tournament total to 54-13. Morrow maintains his lead for the second consecutive day, but he won’t sleep comfortably tonight with North Carolina hammer Bryan Thrift just 4 ounces off the lead with 54-09. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-3

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 3

Troy Morrow is leading the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. However, with one day left to fish, he has a big problem going into the last day: Bryan Thrift. The Shelby, N.C., pro is just 4 ounces behind Morrow. Here’s how Thrift and the rest of the top five caught their fish. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-16-lake-eufaula-day-3-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 3 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-15-morrow-marches-ahead

Morrow Marches Ahead

Day two at the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State at Lake Eufaula challenged anglers with tougher conditions as clouds and wind hindered much of the offshore bite. But while some of the top 10 struggled to duplicate their success from day one, Troy Morrow moved from second up into the driver's seat with a day-two catch of 18 pounds, 1 ounce. His total for the event stands at 39-09, giving him a 1-04 lead over day-one leader Clent Davis. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-15-top-5-patterns-from-lake-eufaula-day-2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake Eufaula Day 2

Troy Morrow took over the lead on the second day of the Walmart FLW Tour event presented by Quaker State on Lake Eufaula. Morrow did most of his damage late in the day once other pros in earlier flights had checked in. He’s working a milk run of brush piles, as are many of the top pros, but the continued fishing pressure is starting to really affect the bite. Here’s how the rest of the top five is dealing with the pressure. READ MORE »

/news/2015-05-15-lake-eufaula-day-2-coverage

Lake Eufaula Day 2 Coverage

Daily updates from the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Eufaula presented by Quaker State. READ MORE »