UPCOMING EVENT: YETI College Fishing - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir


Reliving the 34-8

EverStart Tournament leader Joey Thigpen shows the Paca Craw that fooled several of his fish on day one en route to amassing a 34-pound, 8-ounce catch.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - The great thing about tournament bass fishing is you never know when the magic is going to strike.

Take EverStart pro Joey Thigpen from St. Johns, Fla., for instance. Thigpen has caught his share of 20-pound stringers before, but nothing could prepare him for what happened on day one of the EverStart Series.

Thigpen found one tiny area with several giant bass on beds during practice. But the area was well-known with plenty of other boats patrolling the perimeter for beds. Then there was the weather - who could predict what was going to happen with the gloomy storms moving in.

Then a tad bit of good fortune intervened and provided Thigpen with an early boat number - 36.

When his boat number was called, Thigpen headed straight to the popular area. When he arrived, his heart skipped a beat when he noticed he was the first boat to the area.

His boat draw not only allowed him to beat the crowds, but also beat the storms as there was a tiny window of maybe 30 minutes of decent sun light before the dark clouds moved in.

"I knew exactly where the first big one was," Thigpen recalled. "I went straight to her, picked up a Net Bait Paca craw and caught her on the very first pitch."

That fish weighed 9-11.

Then he simply turned the boat about 10 yards to catch another brute on the first pitch, that fish weighed about 7.

Within minutes, and without hardly moving the boat, Thigpen caught two other solid keepers in the 2- to 3-pound range.

"I had four fish that would go over 20 pounds before the other boats got there or before the storms started," Thigpen said. "It happened just that fast."

As boats moved in, Thigpen moved locations to another 5-pounder on bed and caught her.

"At that point, it was maybe 9:30 or 10 o'clock," he continued. "I had maybe 27 pounds and I figured I was done - I was just going fishing the rest of the day looking for new stuff."

But Thigpen's magic was not over. With the onslaught of the storm, he picked up a Swimming Senko, began fishing through a new area and caught another 5-pounder, which culled a 2-1/2.

Then later in day he once again switched tactics to pitching reeds and hooked yet another 5- to 6-pound bass which culled a 3-pounder.

"At some point I kind of lost track of how much weight I really had," Thigpen said. "My co-angler kept saying I had over 30 pounds, but I didn't want to come to the scales saying I had over 30 pounds - that just sounds crazy. If you say you have over 30 pounds and it really turns out to be like 28 pounds, people might think you got a little carried away."

"When I saw the scales read 34-8, I couldn't believe it," he added.

As for today, Thigpen said he has no more sight-fish to run to and plans to fish a variety of techniques with the hopes of catching 12 to 15 pounds.

EverStart anglers will enjoy a sunny but breezy and cooler day on the Big O today as the front has passed giving way to clear blue skies.

The day two weigh-in of the EverStart Series Southeast event on Okeechobee will begin at 3 p.m. at C. Scott Driver Park.


Temperature at takeoff: 47 degrees
Expected high temperature: 68 degrees
Water temperature: 68 degrees
Wind: WNW at 14 mph
Day's outlook: Sunny, breezy and cooler

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


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