UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

McMillan marches on

McMillan marches on
Jimmy McMillan of nearby Belle Glade, Fla., continues to lead the FLW Series BP Eastern with a three-day total of 57 pounds, 6 ounces.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - After a 45-minute fog delay Friday morning, Walmart FLW Series anglers got to their best fishing spots on Lake Okeechobee late only to watch the fog turn into rain, propelled by a chilly north wind.

Those conditions may not have suited the pros, but the bass did not seem to mind. In fact, it seemed to help the bite somewhat as five stringers over 20 pounds made it across the weigh-in stage today. Perhaps the bass were trying to grab one last meal before the water turned cold again behind the frontal passage.

Local Okeechobee legend Jimmy McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., still leads the pack in the BP Eastern Division event. His catch of 14 pounds, 9 ounces today put him atop the leaderboard going into the last day with a three-day total of 57 pounds, 6 ounces.

McMillan caught his fish sight-fishing on the eastern side of the lake today. Yesterday he admitted that sight-fishing is not his strength, but with a few tips from fellow pro Koby Kreiger, McMillan has resorted more to sight-fishing this week than ever before.

"The main reason I've had to go to sight-fishing is because the water has become so clear on Okeechobee with all this new vegetation," he said. "Normally, I'd rather fish a little dirtier water and just cast around. But with the water so clear and the fish locked down on beds, it's actually more effective to just sight-fish for them. I caught everything sight-fishing today, including two off one bed."

As for tomorrow, McMillan plans to return to his primary area and check on a few more beds. But if that does not pan out, being a local who knows the lake well will allow him to fish on the fly if need be.

"I've got a couple of other areas I have not been to yet," he added. "And I might check on those areas tomorrow, especially with just nine other boats being out here."

Lunsford second

Day-one leader, Scott Lunsford of Calhoun, Ga., holds on to the second-place position Day-one leader, Scott Lunsford of Calhoun, Ga., holds onto the second place position with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 1 ounce.with a three-day total of 56 pounds, 1 ounce - just 1 pound, 5 ounces behind McMillan.

Lunsford brought in 16 pounds, 13 ounces today to stay within striking distance of the win.

The Evinrude pro is continuing to use a variety of swimming baits over the top of thick vegetation just a few miles from the marina.

"It's a total reaction bite," Lunsford said. "I'm fishing over thick jointgrass, hydrilla and reeds. I have a couple of different baits I'm using. The primary one, I'm going to keep quiet until tomorrow, but I have caught a few by swimming an Omega jig through that thick stuff. I'll pitch it into a hole, snap it hard to clean the grass off and then kind of bulge the surface with the jig, and the fish just explode on it.

"It's a pretty cool way to fish, but I'm still losing a lot of bass because the grass is so thick. I had 14 bites today, lost nine and boated just five."

Martin third

National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., caught his best limit of the week, 21 pounds, 10 ounces, today to move into third place with a three-day total of 53 pounds, 4 ounces.National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., caught his best limit of the week - 21 pounds, 10 ounces - today to move into third place with a three-day total of 53 pounds, 4 ounces.

Martin, too, is fishing a lot of moving baits along the surface to get strikes and has found the thick grass to be a real challenge as well. Like others, he has lost a lot of fish to the grass this week. But he has also found a unique way to use lost surface strikes to his advantage.

"Whenever I get a blowup on a surface bait and the fish misses it, I ease over to where the strike occurred very slowly and use my hydraulic PowerPoles to quietly anchor down and look for the fish," Martin described. "A lot of those surface strikes are from bedding fish. I'm using two PowerPoles to secure my boat and block the wind so I can see the fish better. One PowerPole is great, but the wind will still blow your bow around. With two PowerPoles I can kind of quarter the bed off the bow, anchor and block the wind to see the fish. Over half my fish have come that way this week."

Patti fourth

Carmen Patti of Davie, Fla., is in fourth place with a three-day total of 52 pounds, 12 ounces. Carmen Patti of Davie, Fla., is in fourth place with a three-day total of 52 pounds, 12 ounces. Ironically, he is getting a little help holding up his fish from Jimmy McMillan's son, Jarod.His catch of 17 pounds, 10 ounces kept him in the running today.

Patti is moving around to different areas of the lake a lot more than some of the other leaders who are planted in one area.

His reason for this is simply to stay ahead of the spawn and keep finding fresh fish that are just moving in from the main lake.

His main technique is buzzing the surface with Flapp'n Shads and Horny Toads.

"I went to one new place right at the end of the day with about 30 minutes left, caught three and culled twice," Patti said. "I really thought other boats would have found it, but when I went in there, I only saw one boat far away, so that was a pleasant surprise. I'll probably give that area a little more time tomorrow."

Kreiger fifth

Yet another Okeechobee local, Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., rounds out the top five pros with a three-day total of 51 pounds, 4 ounces.

"I started the day with a Horny Toad, and it was game on for the first two and a half hours - I mean it was unreal," Kreiger said. "If I had landed everything that blew up on me in there, there's no telling what I could have weighed today."

Big bass

Ron Figueroa of Evans, Ga., caught the Big Bass in the Pro Division on day three weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces for $500.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Walmart FLW Series BP Eastern on Lake Okeechobee after day three:Tom Mann, Jr., of Buford, Ga., caught the biggesty limit of day three weighing 23 pounds, 7 ounces to qualify for the top 10 in sixth.

6th: Tom Mann Jr. of Buford, Ga., three-day total 50-10
7th: Shonn Goodwin of Moore, Okla., 50-5
8th: Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla., 50-4
9th: Shin Fukae of Mineola, Texas, 49-15
10th: Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., 49-14

Day four of the FLW Series Eastern will begin a 7 a.m. Saturday from Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2009-01-28-lake-okeechobee 

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