UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2021 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Long lengthens lead

Long lengthens lead
Kevin Long of Clewiston, Fla., extended his lead in the Stren Series Southeastern event on Lake Okeechobee to nearly 10 pounds today with a two-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - Sometimes local advantage is a bane in tournament fishing, and sometimes it's a boon. And more often than not on Lake Okeechobee, it's a boon.

Okeechobee is a complex fishery that probably changes more year to year than most lakes in the United States. For out-of-towners visiting Okeechobee for the first time, the 467,000-acre natural lake can be more than overwhelming. And what you learn on the lake one week may not even be a factor the following year - or the following month.

This year has been particularly good to locals on the Big O. In the Walmart FLW Series event on Okeechobee last month, six of the top 10 were local anglers. And the same thing is taking shape at the Stren Series event this week: Locals are rising to the top.

Consider that the top two spots on the pro leaderboard now belong to full-time guides on Lake Okeechobee, and it becomes clear how much local knowledge can help on this massive lake.

Evinrude pro Kevin Long of Clewiston extended his dominating lead from day one by adding another 15 pounds, 4 ounces to his 24-pound, 3-ounce catch from yesterday for a two-day total of 39 pounds, 7 ounces.

Long has almost a 10-pound lead going into Saturday's final round.

"What I thought was my second-best spot has actually turned into my best spot," Long said. "I spent some more time in there today and discovered that the area is a lot bigger than I initially thought it was, and it has more fish in it than I thought too.

"Yes, it still has a lot of good fish in it," he added. "And I know that the hard way because I lost some big ones in there again today. I really feel like this is the winning spot. There are plenty of fish in there to win, and I pretty much have it to myself. Now it's just up to my execution to bring this one home."

Shepard second

Another local guide, Mark Shepard of Clewiston, Fla., sits in second place with a two-day total Mark Shepard of Clewiston, Fla., sits in second place with a two-day total of 29 pounds, 13 ounces. He has been the model of consistency bringing in 15 pounds per day.of 29 pounds, 13 ounces. He has been the model of consistency bringing in 15 pounds per day.

"As guides, we don't get to fish the way we would like to as much as people might think," Shepard said, addressing the topic of local advantage. "The truth is most of the guiding I do is live-bait guiding, and that is done in a totally different kind of water than we fish artificials in. With live bait, you play more of a sit-and-let-them-come-to-you kind of game. With artificials you take it to the fish. So just because I'm guiding every day does not mean I get to explore new water with artificials for 10 hours a day.

"Where being a local really plays to your advantage is knowing how to navigate this big old lake," he explained. "We know how to run this lake at every water level, and that's what is probably giving these other guys' trouble right now: not knowing where you can and cannot run out here. A lot of this lake is coral rock, and if you don't believe it, take a look at some of the lower units from this week. So that's where Kevin and I really have an advantage: being able to run into places that others will not go because they don't know how to get in there without tearing something up."

Kremer third

Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Fla., is in third place with a two-day total of 26 pounds, 15 ounces.

Kremer has been sight-fishing and pitching a Culprit Fox Craw to holes in the grass.

"I really burned through quite few fish today just to cull up to 13 pounds," Kremer said. "I'm not really sure what I have left for tomorrow because I caught so many of them today."

Tharp fourth

Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., moved into the fourth place position with a two-day total of 26 pounds, 5 ounces thanks to a late-day rally in one of his primary places.Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., moved into the fourth-place position with a two-day total of 26 pounds, 5 ounces thanks to a late-day rally in one of his primary places.

"Late this afternoon it was on fire in one of my places," said an animated Tharp. "You always hear about fish moving into areas by the hordes on this lake; well, I witnessed it this afternoon.

"I was in this place most of the day without much action, and all of a sudden it was like someone hit a switch and here come all these fish. It was incredible. In the last two hours I had about 25 bites on a Horny Toad, and fish were locking on beds everywhere. Everything I weighed in came sight-fishing, but my co-angler had 16 pounds on top. I can't wait to go back tomorrow."

Klys fifth

Berkley pro Ron Klys of Gainesville, Fla., rode his day-one Big Bass, weighing 9-2, into the top Berkley pro Ron Klys of Gainesville, Fla., is in fifth place after day two.10 thanks to an 8-pound, 7-ounce catch today.

He is now in fifth place with a two-day total of 25 pounds, 9 ounces.

"All I can find is bucks on beds and little fry guarders," Klys said. "I did find one nice 5-pounder today, but she didn't want to play. I've got her marked for tomorrow - maybe I can catch her to have something to go with my 7-pound limit of bucks."

Big bass

Robert Behrle of Hoover, Ala., caught the Folgers Big Bass in the Pro Division on day two, weighing 6 pounds, 15 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series event on Lake Okeechobee after day two:

6th: Aymon Wilcox of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., two-day total of 25-6
7th: Darrell Davis of Dover, Fla., two-day total of 25-3
8th: Dane Odom of Chapin, S.C., two-day total of 24-10
9th: J.T. Palmore of Gasburg, Va., two-day total of 24-5
10th: Bryan Honnerlaw of Moore Haven, Fla., two-day total of 24-3

Mullikin looking for two in a row

Larry Mullikin of Lauderhill, Fla., brought 19 pounds, 9 ounces to the scales today to take aim at his second FLW Outdoors co-angler win.Larry Mullikin of Lauderhill, Fla., won the Co-angler Division of the FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee back in January, and from the looks of things, he is at the Stren Series trying to make it two in a row.

After bringing in just 5 pounds, 6 ounces on day one, Mullikin meant business on day two when he sacked up 19 pounds, 9 ounces - the biggest limit on day two for either division - to take over the top spot with a two-day total of 24 pounds, 15 ounces.

"What a crazy day!" Mullikin exclaimed after weighing in his huge limit. "At 2 o'clock I did not have fish - I mean zero. And we made one last stop close by out here, just to see if I could get one keeper for a check, and it just went off. In 45 minutes I sacked up that limit - they were killing it."

Just like for his Series win, Mullikin relied on a Reaction Innovations Trixie Shark for his catch.

"I hope I can pull it through for the win tomorrow," Mullikin said. "If I could get my pro to stop out there on that spot for an hour, I know we could tear them up. But that might not be necessary - I'm paired with Kevin Long, and he's obviously on some good fish, so I'm pretty excited."

Other top-fivers

Keith Whipple of Iuka, Miss., is in second place with a two-day total of 23 pounds, 15 ounces.

Luke Campbell of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is in third place with a two-day total of 22 pounds, 15 ounces.

Scott Dingwall of Kenora, Ontario, is in fourth place with a two-day total of 20 pounds, 9 ounces.

Tony Bennett of Indianapolis is in fifth place with a two-day total of 18 pounds, 3 ounces.

Big bass

Bubba Siren of Conyers, Ga., caught the Big Bass in the Co-angler Division on day two weighing 7 pounds, 1 ounce.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the Stren Series event on Lake Okeechobee after day two:

6th: Shannon McGehee of Trenton, Fla., two-day total of 17-4
7th: Robert Wood of Jupiter, Fla., two-day total of 17-2
8th: William Wood of West Palm Beach, Fla., two-day total of 16-13
9th: Greg Knick of Ansonia, Ohio, two-day total of 16-10
10th: Darren Jeter of Marshall, N.C., two-day total of 15-15

Day three of the Stren Series Southeast on Lake Okeechobee will begin Saturday at 7 a.m. at Roland and Mary Ann's Marina.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2009-02-26-lake-okeechobee 

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