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

Thigpen leads Big O bash

Thigpen leads Big O bash
Day one leader of the EverStart Series Joey Thigpen of St. Johns, Fla., showing off about 18 pounds of his monstrous 34-8 catch from Lake Okeechobee.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - When practice ended for the EverStart Series Southeast event on Lake Okeechobee Wednesday afternoon, tales began to circulate about giant bass on beds. At first it was 20-pound limits, then 30-pound limits and the tales even grew as tall as 35-pound limits laying around on beds, ripe for the plucking.

Some rolled their eyes at such fish stories figuring there was no way such stringers would prove true in the actual tournament. After all, how many times have such "sightings" been made only to see a handful of 20-pound limits take the lead on day one of the tournament?

Well, this time around, EverStart pros on the Big O were not crying wolf. Apparently there were quite a few big bass laying around on beds today.

Leading the event is a five fish limit weighing 34 pounds, 8 ounces. In all there were eight limits over 25 pounds. And if you happened to catch an even 20-pound bag on the stormy Big O today, you'd be in 21st place.

Those are some pretty impressive stats considering EverStart anglers got pummeled by a mid-morning storm today that sheeted rain along with 20 to 30 mph winds.

So how could pros see the bass on beds in such a storm? Sometimes if you know exactly where the beds are, all it takes is some persistent pitching to get the big girls to eat.

Such is the case of tournament leader Joey Thigpen of St. Johns, Fla., the owner of the 34 pounds, 8 ounces weighed in today.

Thigpen had several big bedding bass visibly staked out from the practice round and ran straight to them this morning. His first fish of the day was his biggest a 9-11, which incidentally took big bass honors in the Pro Division.

"I was fortunate to have an early boat draw and I got in there and caught a couple of the big ones quick," Thigpen said. "I ended up catching four bass early and then it got crowded and the wind picked up so I left and just went fishing elsewhere, catching one more nice one in the process."

Jenkins second Frank Jenkins of Fort Myers, Fla., bagged five bass on day one weighing 30 pounds, 12-ounces for second place.

Frank Jenkins of Fort Myers, Fla., employed a similar strategy to bag five bass weighing 30 pounds, 12-ounces for second place.

This morning Jenkins ran straight to an area he had located earlier in the week and wasted little time catching his big ones.

"I couldn't necessarily see the fish today but I knew where the beds were because I had seen fish on them several days ago," Jenkins said. "I knew right where to throw until they bit."

Once the storm blew through, Jenkins switched tactics and boated another 8-pounder late in the day.

Medlock third
Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., nabbed the third place spot after day one with a five bass limit for 28 pounds, 1 ounce.
Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., nabbed the third place spot after day one with a five bass limit for 28 pounds, 1 ounce.

Medlock, too, is catching what he believes to be spawning bass but he did not find his by sight.

"I found one little area that was loaded with buck bass and I knew the females were not far behind," Medlock said. "I can't see the bass; I'm just pitching a jig to specific targets where bedding bass should be. The best area is only about a ¼-mile in size, but it's where most of the bucks were concentrated in practice and the females showed up in there today."

Carter fourth
Kip Carter of Loganville, Ga., is in fourth place after day one with five bass weighing 26 pounds, 2 ounces.
Kip Carter of Loganville, Ga., is in fourth place after day one with five bass weighing 26 pounds, 2 ounces.

Carter also made a beeline to the biggest spawning fish he sighted during practice first thing this morning.

"I had about 10 big ones marked and caught five of them," Carter said. "I'm pretty sure other guys caught some of the other ones I had marked so I don't have any left for tomorrow."

As for tomorrow, Carter says he plans to just go fishing.

"There are plenty of ways to catch fish here, it's just that most of them are smaller," Carter added. "Knowing where a few big females are on beds is one way to separate yourself from the pack. I don't have any big ones left so I'd be happy with about 10 pounds tomorrow."

Macmillan, Tharp tied for fifth
Brandon McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., is tied for fifth with 26-1.
Brandon McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., and Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., are both tied for fifth place after day one at 26 pounds, 1 ounce.

Ironically neither pro relied on sight-bass for their limits today.

McMillan said he fishing the "outsides" of popular bedding areas.

"My strategy is to stay on the outside and let the fishing pressure on the insides kind of push the fish to me," McMillan said. "Those big females are wary and once a bunch of trolling motors start moving around all over them, they kind of retreat to a safer place."

Tharp, usually a fanatical sight-fisherman, said he weighed in just one sight-fish today.EverStart pro Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., is tied for fifth with 26-1.

"The conditions just weren't right for it," Tharp said of sight-fishing. "I've got another deal working and I caught some flipping as well. I've got plenty of fish marked on beds, but they're not as big as the ones I think I can catch flipping or doing this other deal."

Rest of the best

7th: Rodger Beaver of Dawson, Ga., five bass, 26-0
8th: Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 25-12
9th: Derek Yasinski of Senoia, Ga., five bass, 24-5
10th: Darryl Stewart of Slocomb, Ga., five bass, 23-11

Rounding out the top-10 pros in the EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee after day one:


Brown leads co-anglers
Bill Brown of Vero Beach, Fla., caught a whopping five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 5 ounces to take the lead in the Co-angler Division on Lake Okeechobee.
Bill Brown of Vero Beach, Fla., caught a whopping five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 5 ounces to take the lead in the Co-angler Division of the EverStart Southeast event on Lake Okeechobee.

Brown sacked the monster bag while fishing with pro Stephen Johnston of Texas.

Brown noted that his two biggest bass were caught early from the exact same area.

Gerald Bozeman of Sylvester, Ga., weighed in 21 pounds, 3 ounces to grab second place in the Co-angler Division after day one.

Bozeman also noted catching his three biggest bass in the first 30 minutes of the day from a small area.

Ray Elmore of Calhoun, Ga., is in third place in the Co-angler Division after day one with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 10 ounces.

Ron Buck of Port St. Lucie, Fla., is in fourth place with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 4 ounces.

Edward Layhew of Bradenton, Fla., rounds out the top five co-anglers after day one with a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces.

Big bass

Wayne Dixon of Sautee Nacoochee, Ga., caught the big bass in the Co-angler Division on day one weighing 8 pounds, 12 ounces.

Rest of the best

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

6th: Galen Fugh of Hixson, Tenn., five-bass, 17-4
7th: Lisa Opel of Hernando, Fla., five-bass, 16-8
7th: Rodney Treadaway of Decatur, Ala., five-bass, 16-8
9th: Jessie Moore of Columbia, Md., five-bass, 16-5
10th: Kevin Thomas of Miramar, Fla., five-bass, 15-14


Day two of the EverStart Series Southeast on Lake Okeechobee will begin at 7:30 a.m. at C. Scott Driver Park.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2011-01-06-lake-okeechobee 

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