UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Brown surges into pro lead on the Big O

Brown surges into pro lead on the Big O
Pro Marty Brown of Dalton, Ga., surged into first place at the American Fishing Series event at Lake Okeechobee.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - Although he hadn't fished Lake Okeechobee in nearly 10 years, FLW American Fishing Series pro Marty Brown didn't let that faze him one bit. Sitting in 10th place after the first day of competition, Brown stormed into the overall lead with a whopping catch of 23 pounds, 6 ounces, bringing his grand two-day total weight to 41 pounds, 3 ounces.

"I hadn't fished here in 10 years and was really struggling in practice," said Brown, who currently hails from Dalton, Ga. "But on Sunday, the last day of practice, I found an area and busted a 20-pound bag. I decided not to go back to that spot again until the tournament started and it's really paid off. It definitely gave me some confidence."

According to Brown, the area in question is serving as a "transition" area for spawning bass coming to and from prime bedding locations.

"I'm catching fish moving in and catching them moving out into deeper water," said Brown. "I knew with the full moon there was a possibility of a big wave of spawners coming into this area. And that's what appears to be happening. It's a really slow bite but I'm just sticking with it.

"Basically I'm fishing one area and I'm focusing in on two little spots within that area," Brown continued. "I'm targeting grass and reeds in relatively shallow water."

Brown credited some of his success to his stint as a co-angler on the FLW Tour last season as well.

"Last year I really learned a lot from my pro partners," said Brown. "I saw how much patience they had, how they stayed in certain areas even if they weren't getting a bite. And that's really hard to do mentally. But I learned from them and that helped me regain my focus. And it definitely helped me out today."

According to Brown, he only had two fish in the boat at 1 p.m. But relying on the knowledge he gained during the FLW Tour season in 2009, he remained patient. And it paid off.

"It was tough out there today and I was really struggling until about 1 p.m.," he said. "But then the fish really started to turn on. I whacked them from there on out. I actually came in 30 minutes early today because I didn't want to take any chances (of coming in late). Overall, the fishing here has been amazing. It's just unreal fishing. I'm pretty pumped right now."

Ironically enough, Brown said he also had another good luck charm that just might have helped him throughout the first two days of competition.

"Each of my co-angler partners the last two days had `Bass' as their last name (Fred and Dana Bass). Unfortunately, none of them qualified for the finals so I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow," joked Brown.

DeMott drops into second place

Day-one pro leader Don DeMott of Boca Raton, Fla., heads into the finals of the Lake Okeechobee event in second place.While day-one pro leader Don DeMott of Boca Raton, Fla., turned in a stellar catch for the second day in a row, it wasn't quite good enough to maintain the overall heading into Saturday's finals.

"The fishing was very similar to yesterday," said DeMott, who recorded a two-day total catch of 40 pounds, 11 ounces. "The wind blew big time in the morning and it was cold. In a lot of ways it was a carbon copy of yesterday. I'm just hoping it stays that way."

DeMott said that like yesterday, he targeting numerous areas by running all over the lake.

"I'm using the same techniques - a Gambler crawdad, flapping shad and 7-inch ribbon-tail worm," he said. "I'm still targeting bass in Kissimmee grass. But I found a few more areas today as well. I'm going to run around the lake again tomorrow. And if I don't catch them, I'm going to keep on going."

Although DeMott is in a dogfight for the title with about four or five other anglers, he said he's confident in his ability to pull out a winning stringer in tomorrow's competition.

"I feel like I'm still around some big fish," said DeMott. "And I don't think the conditions are going to change a whole lot tomorrow. I think I'll probably need between 15 and 17 pounds to have a good chance at winning. I'd like 55 pounds total. But I wouldn't complain if I got 60."

Gonzalez nets third place

Pro Roger Gonzalez of Hialeah Gardens, Fla., maintained third place overall heading into the finals on Lake Okeechobee.Of all of the intriguing stories of the Okeechobee event, perhaps none is as interesting as the story of Roger Gonzalez. Fishing in only the third professional event of his career, Gonzalez now stands in third place after netting a two-day total of 38 pounds, 14 ounces.

But while his catch was impressive, it was the fateful phone call he made to his mother which really stands out.

"Before the tournament started, I called my mother," said Gonzalez, who currently hails from Hialeah Gardens, Fla. "She said to me that she had a dream about my grandfather who had passed away. She said that he told her that he was going to help me win the tournament."

Although Gonzalez struggled through most of the second day of competition, Gonzalez said he couldn't help but keep harking back to the conversation he'd had with his mother.

"At about 3:30 p.m. today, I only had three fish in the boat weighing about 7 pounds," said Gonzalez. "It was then that I looked at the sky and said, `Grandpa, if you're going to help me out, now is the time. Seven casts later, I caught two fish over 4 pounds. I couldn't believe it. It was unreal. I felt like he was standing next to me the whole time. I looked at my co-angler partner and said, `OK, now we can get out of here.'"

Although he's now within striking distance of the leaderboard, Gonzalez said that he might change up his areas a little bit during the finals. But no matter what happens on Saturday, Gonzalez said that he'll never forget this moment.

"I'm just flying right now," said Gonzalez, who now boasts a two-day total of 38 pounds, 14 ounces. "This is like a dream come true."

Horton rebounds for fourth-place finish

Pro Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tenn., climbed to fourth place heading into the final day of competition on Lake Okeechobee.Using a high-risk fishing strategy can either pay big dividends or can it send you packing in a hurry. During this week's Lake Okeechobee event, nobody knows that better than Dwayne Horton of Knoxville, Tenn. As a longtime FLW Tour pro, Horton has been fishing for broke every day and so far, it's paying off - mostly.

"Did I have a good day today? Yes and no," said Horton. "Right now I'm fishing some really heavy grass. For every fish I catch I lose three. I've probably lost 10 fish over the last two days. Today alone I lost four fish over 5 pounds. But we're obviously on some big fish. If I can just get them in the boat I should be fine."

Horton credits his success to the tremendous amount of time he's put on the water at Lake Okeechobee over the past six months.

"I stayed down here this winter and fished here everyday looking for places out of the way that nobody else would find," said Horton, who recorded a two-day total weight of 36 pounds, 11 ounces. "Sure enough I found some. And those are the places I'm having a lot of success with this week."

According to Horton, he's targeting largemouth bass by casting a Zoom Horney Toad in gaps in heavy grass cover.

"It's definitely a high-risk, high-reward strategy," he said. "I can go out there tomorrow and if everything goes well, I'll come back with 25 pounds. But I have to get them in the boat first. That's the real trick."

Cox nabs fifth place

Pro Aymon Wilcox of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., used a two-day catch of 33 pounds, 10 ounces to finish in the top five heading into Saturday's final round of competition on Lake Okeechobee.Aymon Wilcox of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., used a two-day catch of 33 pounds, 10 ounces to finish in the top five heading into Saturday's final round of competition.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 American Fishing Series pro finalists:

6th: Jeff McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., 32-15
7th: Ronnie Watts of Florence, S.C., 32-7
8th: Kevin Long of Clewiston, Fla., 31-8
9th: Jeff Fitts of Keystone Heights, Fla., 31-7
10th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., 31-0

Joey Wood of McAlpin, Fla., won the day's big bass honors in the Pro Division after netting a 7-pound, 2-ounce largemouth.

Wood grabs co-angler lead

Robert Wood of Jupiter, Fla., used a two-day catch of 28 pounds, 4 ounces to grab the overall lead heading into the final day of co-angler competition on Lake Okeechobee.Robert Wood of Jupiter, Fla., used a two-day catch of 28 pounds, 4 ounces to grab the overall lead heading into the final day of co-angler competition on Lake Okeechobee.

"Overall, it was a good day," said Wood. "I had a few fish blow up on me and I caught a few shorts but I managed to get five fish in the boat. I was actually worried about getting in the top 10 for awhile."

Wood said that he's using a combination of speed worms and swimbaits, targeting bass in shallow grass in the 2 to 3 feet of water.

Best of the rest

Bucky Helms of Dallas, N.C., finished the day in second place after recording a two-day catch of 27 pounds, 6 ounces.

Day-one leader Mitch Reynolds of Petal, Fla., parlayed a two-day 25-pound catch into third place.

Darren Jeter of Marshall, N.C., used a 24-pound, 15-ounce catch to grab fourth place while Jesse Steadham of Florence, Miss., grabbed fifth place overall with a catch of 23 pounds, 12 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler finalists:

6th: Danny Shelton of Davie, Fla., 22-13
7th: Brent Houlihan of Naples, Fla., 20-11
8th: Kevin Thomas of Miramar, Fla., 19-12
9th: George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., 19-11
10th: Ron Buck of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., 18-8

Daniel Vasquez of Unity, Maine, took home big bass honors in the Co-angler Division after landing a 6-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.Daniel Vasquez of Unity, Maine, took home big bass honors in the Co-angler Division after landing a 6-pound, 11-ounce largemouth.

Day three of American Fishing Series competition on Lake Okeechobee begins at 6:45 a.m. ET at Roland & Mary Ann Martins Marina & Resort, located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston, Fla.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2010-02-25-lake-okeechobee 

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