February 3, 2014 by Shinichi Fukae
(Editor's note: Throughout the 2014 season, FLW Tour pro Shinichi Fukae has agreed to make regular blog contributions approximately once a month on FLWOutdoors.com.)
After having a great New Year's Eve party with friends and eating black-eyed peas and collard greens - traditional southern foods - my wife and I left for Florida to fire up our new tournament season.
This year, I have decided to sign up for the Rayovac FLW Series in the Southeastern Division in addition to the Walmart FLW Tour. My goal is to make the Rayovac FLW Series Championship and hopefully make it to the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup as well. I have learned FLW has put the championship back into the Rayovac FLW Series this year in addition to changing the rules on how to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup through that series. I like the fact that not only is the championship back, but FLW has also increased the number of Cup qualifiers from the Series from five to 10. I think this change gives anglers more opportunities and incentives to fish the circuit. The Series has strong fields with a number of good anglers so it's not easy to be good all the time - but I will give it a try and do my best to become one of 10 Cup qualifiers. I believe it's worth a try.
Heading into the first event of this year, the Rayovac FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee had 226 competitors, which were record-high numbers. The "Big O" is a huge lake as you know but because of the large field size, it made the tournament waters fish a bit smaller. In addition, the cold front that came through brought much tougher conditions for many anglers.
From my practice results, I didn't think I had a winning pattern but I did find two potentially good areas. One area was a numbers-but-less-quality area and the other one was a quality-but-less-numbers area. After some consideration, I did choose the numbers area but it didn't go as well as I had expected, so I shifted the plan and went to the area where there were more quality bites. It did work out on the first day of the competition, but the `Big O' didn't yield me any kicker bites on the second day and I ended up with 34th-place finish in the competition. The result was not so great for me, but it was a good start for the new season, I guess.
The next tournament for me is the upcoming Walmart FLW Tour event at Lake Okeechobee. That would be the opening game of the circuit this year and, hopefully, I can do better at this event. It seems like the weather all over in U.S. is much colder than the average this winter, even in Florida. I don't know how this will affect us, but we will see what happens. See y'all next month.