UPCOMING EVENT: Walmart Bass Fishing League - 2016 - Lake Okeechobee

Florida free-for-all on Okeechobee

Fog covers Okeechobee this morning holding the anglers in the marina for over an hour.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - With the majority of the country enduring below-average temperatures, things on Lake Okeechobee are just starting to heat up. Florida has seen its fair share of cold weather this winter putting the largemouths in a stubborn mood. A sure-fire way for these bass to swing out of their funk is warmer weather. As the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour kicks off on the 'Big O,' a recent warming trend could be just what the doctor ordered to see some heavy-hitting weights this week. The day got started on a slower note than expected when anglers awoke to a hefty fog blanketing the lake. With normal takeoff slated for 7:30 a.m. from Rowland and Mary Ann's Marina, it wasn't until 8:45 a.m. that the first boat would ease out of the marina and officially start the season. Much of the buzz on the docks this morning focused on how many fish will be caught from their bed. While there is no moon phase to move the fish up to spawn this week there is another big factor giving some fish the urge to nest - warm, stable weather. George Kapiton says that if he wins this week, this will be the rod he does it on."Fishing is a whole lot better this year than it was at last year's (FLW Tour) event," said local stalwart George Kapiton. "We have had a pretty cold winter for Florida and this warm weather actually has some fish moving up. I fished both the BFL events and the Rayovac (FLW Series) tournament on Okeechobee and there is a huge difference in the fishing because of the warming trend." Kapiton believes that anglers will be able to catch fish in all three phases of the spawn - prespawn, spawn and postspawn. "From what I have seen, you can catch fish just about any way you want," continued the Inverness, Fla., resident. "I have caught some bigger fish by casting baits this week which tells me the fish are moving up. I have even seen some fish that are real white which also tells me those are new to the area. I think the prespawn fish will play a big role. I fished an area on Sunday and caught zero fish. I made one drift back through that area the other day and had 11 bites. That tells you there are fish pulling in." Sharing the same feelings as Kapiton was Chevy pro Dion Hibdon who has plenty of experience on the Big O. Chevy pro Dion Hibdon is happy to start another season."I think this year you will see people weigh fish from every stage of the spawn," said Hibdon, who won the Forrest Wood Cup back in 2000. "I have seen some fish on beds but I'm not saying that I want to fish for them. Those spawners are getting so dang tough to deal with because of how much they get bothered and the water clarity isn't as good, so I plan on sticking with the prespawn and postspawn fish. But don't get me wrong, I'll still have a tube tied on up front just in case I stumble across a big girl." The water temps have crept into the mid to upper 70s and that has some of the anglers concerned the big fish may not want to commit to spawning - which is similar to what occurred last year. For those that forgo focusing on bedding bass there is no question that the casting of soft plastic swimbaits and flukes will draw much of the attention this week to put numbers in the boat. Fluke-style softplastics will be popular on the Big O this week."The casting bite will be a big factor in the top 30 this week," Kapiton added. "You can catch a lot of fish doing that. It will be those guys that catch their limit casting and then flip for bigger bites that do well. I wouldn't be surprised to see half dozen bags of fish brought in close to 30 pounds today. "I don't normally fish for a $10,000 check but I plan on it this week. You can catch 14 to 16 pounds pretty easy casting around the grass so I think there should be plenty weights around there. Like I said though, it will be about finding those bigger fish with a flipping stick that makes the difference." Tournament logistics The fog begins to lift as the national anthem is played.Anglers will take off from Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston, Fla., at 7:30 a.m. the first two days of competition. On the last two days takeoff will be at the Clewiston Boat Basin at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will be held at Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at the Walmart located at 1005 W. Sugarland Highway in Clewiston beginning at 4 p.m. Fans will also be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at the Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and fans can learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public. Also on Sunday, country music artist Josh Thompson will perform a free live concert on the Walmart weigh-in stage at 3 p.m. On the Web The first boats leave the marina to start the 2014 Walmart FLW Tour season on Lake Okeechobee.For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio. In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Lake Okeechobee event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from either the FLW or FLW Tour home pages. Thursday's conditions Sunrise: 7:06 a.m. Temperature at takeoff: 69 degrees Expected high temperature: 76 degrees Water temperature: 70-77 degrees Wind: NE at 10 to 15 mph Maximum humidity: 93 percent Day's outlook: partly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon

Tags: morning-story  kyle-wood 


Jigging Up Late Fall Smallies

In the North Country, as fall fades and sportsmen settle in for the arrival of winter, many people put the boat away and forsake the water for the woods. For those willing to brave the elements on the lake, however, the reward is some of the best smallmouth bass fishing of the year for some of the biggest fish of the season. READ MORE »


Rain Raises the Bar

When the 171 pros and their co-angler equivalents roll out of Paducah, Ky., onto the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers on Thursday morning they’ll have to contend with conditions that are totally different from practice. READ MORE »


A Mixed Bag at Clear Lake

Clear Lake is famous for a good reason. Not only does it hold some giants, it’s home to tremendous amounts of fish over five pounds apiece. October tournaments on Clear in the last few years have shown some of the lake’s tremendous potential, with big ones grouped up and big-time numbers caught by many. READ MORE »


Kistler Helium 3 MAD rod review

Walmart FLW Tour pro Mark Daniels Jr. teamed up with Kistler Rods to create his own signature series stick – the Helium 3 MAD series. Daniels grew up fishing the California Detla, so it’s no surprise that the MAD is a heavy-power, moderate-action, 7-foot, 11-inch rod designed to haul bass from heavy cover. After watching him put the rod to work over the course of the 2015 season, I decided to take it for a spin myself. READ MORE »


Winona State Pulls Through on Carlyle

Carlyle Lake in southern Illinois is known to be a fickle beast, and it certainly laid down a challenge for the teams fishing the FLW College Fishing Central Conference Championship there Oct. 3-4. Cade Laufenberg and Wyatt Stout from Winona State brought four bass to the scale worth 12 pounds, 6 ounces on day one. READ MORE »


Ramapo Claims Northern Conference Title

It’s no coincidence that Annuzzi and Zapf walked away with the title. Both are seasoned anglers who have spent plenty of time on the Chesapeake Bay system through the years. The pair also hails from New Jersey – which is where Ramapo College is located – with Annuzzi growing up a two-hour drive from the Bay. READ MORE »


Hunting Erie’s Brown Fish

It’s going to be an Easter egg hunt on Lake Erie, but at least the great lake will behave a little better during the final Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division event than it did during practice. READ MORE »


2015 Forrest Wood Cup Off and Running

If the fishing matches the weather on the opening day of the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita, there will be plenty of limit stringers brought to the scales in Hot Springs’ Bank of the Ozarks Arena when the weigh-in commences at 5 p.m. Up until a couple of weather forecasts ago, anglers were anticipating hot, miserable weather during all four days of this, the crowning event of the Walmart FLW Tour season, which is hosted by Visit Hot Springs and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Passing thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon brought a pleasant respite to the sultry heat, however, and now Cup contenders only have sulking bass to contend with as they vie for tournament fishing’s richest prize: a winner’s purse of $500,000. READ MORE »


Up and Down on Dardanelle

Tournament fishing inherently has its ups and downs, but Rayovac FLW Series Central Division anglers are getting a concentrated dose of this angling truism on Lake Dardanelle. An Army Corps of Engineers impoundment of the Arkansas River, Dardanelle has seen its water level fluctuate with recent rains and the Corps’ efforts to moderate this flow. Dam releases have pulled the lake down enough to reposition fish. READ MORE »


Scott Martin Q&A

Scott Martin basically called his shot at winning the Walmart FLW Tour Angler of the Year title. After giving him some time to soak it all in and relax and with the Forrest Wood Cup on the horizon, it seemed like a good time to throw a few questions his way. In the following nine questions, Martin gives some insight into winning the AOY, a possible chance at his second Cup and what he does to relax. READ MORE »


North or South on Champlain?

With waves 1 to 3 feet and thunderstorms in the offing as day one of the Rayovac FLW Series event presented by Plano gets under way on Lake Champlain, the anglers will have a tall task no matter which direction they run. 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 »


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 »


Hunter Captures Co-angler of the Year Title

Things couldn’t have worked out any better for first-year Walmart FLW Tour co-angler John Hunter, who wrapped up a phenomenal season from the back of the boat to win Co-angler of the Year and the Ranger Z518C with 200-hp outboard that goes with it. READ MORE »


A Capital Challenge

Rivers can be rollercoasters, and the Potomac River might be about to give the anglers fishing the Walmart FLW Tour finale a tough ride. Two nasty storm systems have blown through in the last few days. According to FLW Tour pro and local Michael Hall, those could have been the two worst things to happen leading up to the tournament. “After 30 years of fishing here, I know storms impact the bass on this river,” says Hall. “Those storms have certainly done that. The wind alone would have done it this week.” READ MORE »


Practice with Alex Davis

The final stop of the Walmart FLW Tour on the Potomac River is a homecoming of sorts for pro Alex Davis. Though Davis now spends his time guiding on Lake Guntersville, his early years were spent about 45 miles west of the Potomac in Strasburg, Va., where he learned to bass fish. READ MORE »


The Sun Rises on the 2015 All-American

Practice day Wednesday saw temperatures in the high 80s, with more sultry weather on tap for today. Like many others, Schroeder spent most of the day riding around and checking spots with his electronics. Though undoubtedly fish will be caught from the miles of weedbeds in the lower end of the lake below Paris Landing, he figures it will be a ledge bite that wins. READ MORE »


Deep or Shallow at Chickamauga?

There was no sentimentality attached to the smartphone photos anglers were showing off to each other prior to the Wednesday afternoon rules meeting of the Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Chickamauga. The photos weren’t of loved ones back home; rather, they were shots of big largemouth bass the fishermen had caught and released during practice earlier this week. In fact, there was a surprising number of such photos making the rounds, which suggests that the kind of hefty bass that can make or break a tournament for an angler are there ready and waiting as the four-day event presented by Igloo Coolers got underway this morning out of Dayton Boat Dock. READ MORE »


Northern Rayovacs Kick Off on the James

Ostensibly, the Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division tournament presented by Mercury that began this morning is taking place on the James River, but much of the fishing focus will be centered on the Chickahominy River – or Chick, as it’s affectionately known locally. “This tournament is typically won out of the Chick,” says North Carolina pro Jamey Caldwell of the James River tributary. “There are some great bags coming out of the [James] river right now, but I just feel that those big fish are a little more sporadic. I’m going to hang out in the Chick and hope for the best.” READ MORE »


Seminole Summer

Last week, the Walmart FLW Tour plied the waters of the Chattahoochee River on Lake Eufaula. This week, the Rayovac FLW Series moves 60 miles south on the “Hooch” to Lake Seminole for the final event of the Southeast Division. Running offshore brush piles was the dominant theme on Eufaula last week, leaving some to wonder if a similar pattern could work on Seminole, since the two legendary lakes are connected by the same river. READ MORE »