UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

Cox sights in lead at Okeechobee

Cox sights in lead at Okeechobee
John Cox of Debary, Fla., sight-fished 25 pounds, 1 ounce for the day-one lead in the FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - The Big O did not produce as well as many had anticipated on day one of the FLW Series Eastern event, but the fishing was still respectable.

Five limits over 20 pounds were weighed in with the 15-pound mark running all the way down to 20th place.

Buck bass are swimming around like goldfish in a pond in the Kissimmee grass fields of Okeechobee, and many pros feel the best is still yet to come over the next couple of days as the females move in with the full moon.

Casting and reeling paddle-tail-type plastics was a popular technique for catching the bucks, but those who caught the better fish, especially the tournament leaders, did their big-fish damage by sight-fishing.

Day-one leader John Cox of Debary, Fla., weighed in a five-bass limit for 25 pounds, 1 ounce, and he caught most of his bass - a total of 10 for the day - by sight-fishing.

In fact, Cox got his biggest bass - a 7-pounder - to bite on the first cast of the day, and he did not even set the hook.

"I'm kind of superstitious," Cox laughed. "I don't ever want to catch a fish on the first cast of the day because I think it jinxes me the rest of the day. So I always make a kind of half-hearted, meaningless cast out into the middle of nowhere as my first cast - just make sure everything is working right, the drag is right, the bait is working right. It's kind of a check cast.

"Well, I pulled up to where I thought the bed was, made my first cast out away from the bed into the middle of the canal, and that big fish was so aggressive it actually swam off the bed out into the canal, and I saw her turn up and eat my bait. I was so freaked out that it was my first cast that I shook her off and let her lock back onto the bed before I caught her."

Cox said he spent the rest of the day sight-fishing and noted that he burned his area up pretty well, catching most of what it had to offer.

"There probably won't be a 25-pound day for me tomorrow," he added. "Unless some more big ones move up, I'll be happy with 15 pounds."

Gagliardi peeking, too

In second place with 21 pounds, 7 ounces is Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi.Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi sight-fished an 8-pounder for 21-7 on day one.

Gagliardi mixed up a casting and reeling game plan with sight-fishing. His biggest bass - an 8-pounder - came off the bed.

"My boat drifted right over her, and she never flinched; she stayed locked on the whole time," Gagliardi said of the fish. "The boat drifted off her about 10 feet, I made my first pitch, and she rolled up on the bait sideways, and I could see how big she was. About five pitches later, she ate it. It was pretty awesome."

Gagliardi was then forced to land the fish on his own as he, one, had forgotten to bring his net and, two, his co-angler was also fighting a fish at the same time.

"I got a little tense for a few moments there," laughed Gagliardi, who is usually calm as a monastery.

Gagliardi believes weights will likely go up as the tournament progresses.

"Everything is coming together to make perfect conditions the next few days," he added. "I'll bet the cut weight will actually go up rather than fall each day."

Grigsby catches one for Avrey
Goodwill pro Chad Grigsby starts the FLW Series in third place with 21-6.
Goodwill pro Chad Grigsby grabbed the third-place position with a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 6 ounces.

"I scrambled around and caught a bass just about every way possible today," Grigsby said. "I caught one punching a mat, I caught a big one sight-fishing, then I caught some others just casting around.

"But here's the coolest part," Grigsby added. "I weighed my biggest fish with my digital scales right after I caught it, and it weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces, which is the exact weight of my new baby girl, Avrey, so that one was for her."

Martin fourth

Lake Okeechobee's own Scott Martin is in fourth place with 21 pounds, 4 ounces.National Guard pro Scott Martin gets off to a fourth place start on Okeechobee with a 21-4 catch.

The National Guard pro mixed up topwater toading with sight-fishing for his catch today.

"I'm mostly buzzing a toad, but if I come across one on a bed, I'll fish for it for a few minutes, but I'm trying not to get too hung up on sight-fish," Martin said. "In a tournament down here last year, I wasted a day trying to catch 6-pounders that would not bite. I promised myself not to get bogged down on fish like that again this year."

Despite his impressive catch, Martin said the day actually started out on the wrong foot. After catching a big fish, he missed seven other large blow-ups on his toad.

"I finally got so frustrated trying to hook those toad fish that I went to a giant 7/0 Trokar hook - the thing looks like a gaff - but I caught every fish that bit after going to that giant hook."

Mann continues to take names
Tom Mann, Jr., keeps burning up the FLW Series with a 20-1 catch on day one.
Red-hot pro Tom Mann Jr. looks like he has no intention of resting on his Lake Lanier qualification laurels anytime soon.

Mann dismantled the FLW Series last year with a win, a runner-up and a fifth-place finish to easily win the Eastern Division points title and earn an early ticket to the Forrest Wood Cup at Lake Lanier near his home in Buford, Ga.

Apparently Mann is still on a tear, weighing in 20 pounds, 1 ounce today to round out the top five pros in the FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the FLW Series Eastern on Lake Okeechobee after day one:

6th: Robert Behrle of Hoover, Ala., five bass, 19-11
7th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 18-11
8th: Tony Chachere of Opelousas, La., five bass, 16-12
9th: Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., five bass, 16-8
10th: Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., five bass, 16-7

Kerslake leads co-anglers
Scott Kerslake of Henderson, N.C., leads the Co-angler Divison of the FLW Series Eastern Division on Lake Okeechobee with a five bass limit weighing 12 pounds even.
Scott Kerslake of Henderson, N.C., leads the Co-angler Division of the FLW Series Eastern Division on Lake Okeechobee with four bass weighing 12 pounds even.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top five co-anglers in the FLW Series Eastern on Lake Okeechobee after day one:

2nd: Philip Jarabeck of Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 11-8
3rd: Dale Walker of Miami, five bass, 11-7
4th: George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., five bass, 11-6
5th: Greg Schultz of Wayzata, Minn., five bass, 11-3

Day two of the FLW Series Eastern on Lake Okeechobee will begin Thursday at 7 a.m. at C. Scott Driver Park.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2010-01-27-lake-okeechobee 

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