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

FLW Tour Recap: Lake Okeechobee

Kellogg’s team pro Dave Lefebre of Union City, Pa., used a catch of 29 pounds, 11 ounces to grab fifth place overall.

(Editor's note: Veteran bass pro Dave Lefebre has agreed to take time to share his insights into each FLW Tour event of the 2012 season. After every event, Lefebre will give his thoughts on tournament strategy, winning techniques and other behind-the-scenes stories/information that is compelling to our readers. The following blog represents his first installment of the season. Lefebre ultimately finished the Lake Okeechobee event in 23rd place with a two-day total of 32 pounds, 8 ounces and walked away with $11,500 in winnings.) It is hard to believe another season is now under way and the first event of 2012 is already in the books. Lake Okeechobee kicked off the FLW Tour Open season this past week and it was a slugfest as usual, for one guy at least. I wish that one guy was me logically, but a few untimely blunders cost me a top-10 finish and a possible run at second place. I had an intimidating practice here this time around as all of the places I've done well in in the past were void of fish. Even worse, rain, wind, and cloud cover greeted our three-day practice period, which was my biggest setback. I like bright sun down here so I can see into the water and find beds - or fish that are spawning - but those conditions never came. I was forced to cover tons of water and basically start all over, pretending that I've never been to Okeechobee before. After checking old "memories" on day one, I totally cleared my GPS unit and spent the next two days in completely different areas of the huge lake - places I'd never been before. I flipped a Yamamoto 1-ounce jig and new Kinami Psycho Dad into reeds, pads, and anything else I could find while casting a Swimming Senko and Storm swimbait everywhere in between. On the very last day of practice I finally found an area that seemed to hold some bigger fish. I shook off a bass that looked to be 6 pounds on a jig and caught a few other 3- to 4-pounders in the vicinity. More importantly, I developed some serious confidence in the big flipping jig. I also figured out that I could get many more bites by not using braided line and flipping with fluorocarbon instead. It was quite obvious the difference that the fluorocarbon line made for me, and I finally began to feel a little better about my chances in this event. I then checked another area about a mile away and caught a huge fish in the 8- to 10-pound range. It wound up eating my jig but thankfully, did not get hooked. Immediately after that, I put a big red waypoint on that spot. I decided that I was going to go south and fish that end of the lake for the first time in my many visits to the "Big O." I was excited. On the first day of the tournament, I noticed that the heavy winds had made my best area quite a bit dirtier and, subsequently, I only had three fish at 1:00 p.m. So I left that area and went to that little place about a mile away were I had that big bite in practice. Craig Dowling was in there and soon after I arrived, Bryan Thrift, who ended the event in 6th place overall, also showed up. I talked to Bryan and he said he only had 6 pounds in his live well. I had three fish for about 8 pounds. But that was all about to change. Bryan came to the weigh-in with nearly 16 pounds. I caught several good fish in that area including one about 6 pounds and one about 4 pounds which gave me 161/2 pounds for day one which wasn't too bad. As luck would have it, however, my co-angler caught the 8-pounder I had shook off two days earlier. He led the event on the co-angler side after day one with over 20 pounds. Obviously, that fish would have made a huge difference in the final outcome of this tournament for me. I went back to that same area on day 2 and stuck it out all day. I managed another 16-pound limit, but lost a 5-pounder around noon that killed me. I ended up weighing a little 13 incher too so it was a very tough day on the job. But in hindsight, I'm very happy that I was able to catch what I did and start the year off with a solid 23rd-place finish. It could have been better for sure, but you can almost always say that. It also could have been much, much worse, so I'll take it and move on to the next one. The top five anglers fished a variety of different techniques, which is what I especially like about fishing this lake. My good friend, Randall Tharp took the victory on the "Big O" with an impressive 101-pound, 12-ounce total weight - which was more than 23 pounds greater than second-place finisher, John Cox. Tharp didn't even need to catch a single fish on day 4 to seal the win if my math is correct, and that doesn't happen very often at the tour level. Randall fished around the mouth of Dyess ditch, while Cox stayed close to the takeoff area, in Clewiston. Jeremy York finished third by fishing in Uncle Joe's canal, which was a little bizarre but it obviously worked out well for him. Another good friend, Art Ferguson captured fourth place by finding some big schooling fish in practice and then by staying in the rim canal on the final day out of the stiff winds. He credits his success here on his decision making throughout the four days. Fifth-place finisher, Brandon McMillan was fishing the same area and pattern as Randall, by punching thick matted vegetation with a big 1 1/2-ounce weight. Brandon, who won this event last year, suffered the loss of his father Jimmy recently, so it was great to see him do well again in Clewiston. The local support for Brandon was unbelievable during the weigh-ins each day. He's a good kid, who I believe has a great future in this sport if he chooses to make a run at it. Randall and Sara Tharp just left our camper this Monday morning and I asked Randy to tell me something he didn't confess to any writers. The one thing he told me was that it was very important not to touch his trolling motor anywhere near the matt he was fishing. He would get upwind from the matt and drift up to it and quietly ease his Power Poles down once he got close. Being quiet around these Florida bass has always been a major key to success and something I too have always tried take full advantage of. Stealth obviously played a big part in Randall's win this week as well. The other thing he mentioned was how a Tabu swimming jig cast between the mats accounted for at least three of the bass he weighed in during the four days. Though he did not need any of those particular fish to win, he did need every one of them to break the 100-pound mark, which he did by only 1 pound, 12 ounces. Besides winning, that was one of the goals he set for himself this tournament. Great job Tharp, but now it's time to get back to playing Baggo! Anne and I are contemplating staying in Florida until the official practice period begins on Lake Hartwell in three weeks. Winter in Pennsylvania doesn't seem too appealing when we could be playing on the beach in 80-degree temperatures instead. Either way, I will talk to you all after the first FLW Tour Major on Lake Hartwell, S.C. I made the top-10 there last season so I can't wait to go back. In the meantime, you can follow me on Facebook! To read more about Dave's life on the road, check out On Tour With Dave and Anne, sponsored by Chevy. Throughout the 2011 FLW Tour season, Dave and his wife, Anne will be keeping a detailed blog of their experiences while traveling the country in their Chevy Trucks.

Tags: blog  dave-lefebre 


Fishing Through the Stress

For some of us, the Forrest Woods Cup’s memories are still fresh. They come back again and again to give us moments of satisfaction and joy as we’re reminded of the great times we had during those hot summer days at Hot Springs. READ MORE »


True Sportsmanship

In recent years it seems I’ve read an increasing number of stories about bass anglers and their lack of common courtesy: hole-jumping, waypoint-stealing, cutting off other anglers – you get the picture. With that in mind, I want to relate an incident that happened to me during the 2015 BFL Regional on the Potomac River. READ MORE »


6 Rules for Fishing Safely in a Kayak

There will never be a replacement for the almighty bass boat. It has secured its place as the tool for the trade on so many types of waters. But there are also places where the fishing kayak reigns supreme, and many of the “who’s who” of bass fishing are discovering that a kayak is a great addition to their fishing and fun tools. READ MORE »


Mom’s Fishing Lessons

I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great fishing friends and mentors who helped me become a better angler. However, the best inspiration for my fishing career was my mother, Cheryl, and she also gave me the best advice regarding it. She was a mother who only fished a handful of times in her life, and who was always sure she was going to fly out of my bass boat anytime I got it over 35 mph. But, boy, did she help guide me. READ MORE »


An Unexpected Gift

What a year it has been! As I begin my very first blog post, I am thankful, humbled and extremely proud to call myself a breast cancer survivor. Not necessarily the club one expects or wants to be part of, but I am here to tell you that it has been a gift in so many ways. I know, many of you are thinking a "gift" to be diagnosed with cancer? The answer is yes. READ MORE »


How to Catch Big Fall Smallmouths

What's the best time of year to catch lots of big smallmouth bass in the northern United States? Well, get ready, because it's going to happen in the next couple of weeks and continue until the lakes freeze solid. And the best part about it is that often times you will have entire lakes to yourself since most anglers switch gears and start their hunting seasons, leaving the lakes almost completely void of pressure. READ MORE »


Weekend Angler: Off the Water Practice

Of all the excuses I hear fisherman use when it comes to fishing tournaments, the one that intrigues me the most is, "I haven't been out that much, so I couldn't practice." There is no substitute for time on the water – that is not debatable – but there are things that can be done to assist you in your weekend efforts if you can’t spend every free moment on the water. Below you’ll find just a few tips to hopefully help you become a more efficient angler. READ MORE »


The Good Ol' Days

It’s hard to believe that the dog days of summer will soon be coming to an end, seen in the shortening of days and frigid mornings. For some, fall means hanging up the rods and picking up the bow or shotgun in preparation for the upcoming hunting seasons – for others, falling water temps signify hungry bass stocking up for the descending metabolism of winter. READ MORE »


Frog fishing 101

People often ask me about what frog I use and when. It’s a good question, because there are many, many frogs available to anglers these days. The answer depends on the situation you expect to encounter. READ MORE »


A Fisherman or Fisher of Men?

It was a series of ups, downs and way downs, though I ended my season with a nice check at the Potomac River. I thought squaring off against a prehistoric reptile in its own backyard was tough, but I have to tell you that fishing against these FLW guys was tougher than dealing with alligators back home. READ MORE »


Rhinos, Bass and Great White Sharks

Tournament fishing in South Africa is pretty solid, with about 500 serious tournament anglers in the country. There are many more recreational anglers in the region too. READ MORE »


Getting Whipped by the Young Bucks

It really goes against all logic, but logic flew out the window again at the recent Forrest Wood Cup on Lake Ouachita. Take the example of Brandon Cobb and Dion Hibdon. Cobb, at the tender age of 25, not only qualified for the Cup (the most difficult championship in the world to qualify for, much less win), but he finished in the top five. READ MORE »


SOAR Derby a Success

Be it children or adults, we all want others to be able to experience the pure joy that we feel when hooked up and battling a fish that we have worked so hard for. READ MORE »


Shifting Gears

I am stripping the big line off the Halos and re-spooling with 6- and 8-pound-test Berkley flouro, and reflecting on how much fun it was catching all those fish with all these relatively new baits, how hard some of the strikes were and how easy it was catching fish on baits that they haven't seen before. Well, that's all over now – back to smallmouth fishing. READ MORE »


Do You Really Need So Much Stuff?

Lures and clothes have a lot in common. Just like clothing evolves and new styles come out and old styles come back, so goes fishing lures. The difference between the two, however, is that you can outgrow your old jeans, but you can never get rid of your old baits. READ MORE »


Never Miss a Bass Again

Do you ever listen at the weigh-in at how many guys talk about all the fish they missed? I can’t accept that it’s part of the job at hand. It’s one of my pet peeves. Most of us would do much better if we would just ask the simple question “why?” In prefishing we have already done most of the hard work. During the tournament, a missed fish can’t be accepted. I consider it a good tournament when I come back to the ramp with no missed fish, regardless of my finish. How does that happen? It starts way before the tournament. READ MORE »


Rayovac FLW Series Northern Division Event Set For Lake Champlain

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (July 21, 2015) – The Rayovac FLW Series is headed to Lake Champlain July 30- Aug. 1 for a tournament presented by Plano when as many as 300 pros and co-anglers will take to the water for the second stop of 2015 in the Northern Division... READ MORE »


A Bass is a Bass, But Not Always

Amigos, as you may remember, we left the past blog with a big question mark on the well-known saying, “A bass is a bass, no matter what.” Well, it’s time to give you a different point of view. A lot of you, while reading these lines, might start questioning my ideas. READ MORE »


From Kayak to Bass Boat

Like many anglers, I am a fanatic about my equipment for the things I do. For example, I’m a four-time world champion whitewater kayaker and have won three of them in a boat of my design. I started Jackson Kayak to take kayak design to the next level and to do things that the bigger company I was working for wasn’t willing to do. I am also a long-time bass fisherman, which led me to fishing 2015 Walmart FLW Tour as a co-angler. READ MORE »


More Than a Fisherman

The competitive fishing world is a small one, and when narrowed down to the competitive bass fishing world, it is even smaller in the grand scheme of things. This, of course, isn’t to say that this small group doesn’t have an absolutely huge impact. It does. READ MORE »