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

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Okeechobee long overdue

After the fog finally lifted, the FLW Tour field departed Roland Martin's Marina at 7:50 a.m.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - After yet another monster storm this week, much of the continental United States is sick of winter. Backs are sore from shoveling snow and hands are frostbitten from what has been the harshest winter in decades. But in southern Florida, it feels like another world. With temperatures in the low 80s and warm sunshine, Lake Okeechobee is almost too good to be true. And even better, the bass fishing on the Big O is the best it's been in years.

In anticipation for the Walmart FLW Tour season opener, cabin fever has been at an all-time high. It only worsened when the industry watched in awe as Okeechobee kicked out massive stringers at the EverStart Series season opener. While the conditions are dreamy, the competition is serious. This week's tournament is the first of a revamped 10-event Tour schedule. Included in that schedule are four Opens and six Majors. Okeechobee is the first Open and the Majors kick off next month on Arkansas' Beaver Lake.

Like the name suggests, the Opens are amenable to all who wish to compete. The Majors, in contrast, require a pro to fish every event on the schedule. Thus, the Opens are loaded with local sticks, BASS studs and the best from the FLW Tour. For all intensive purposes, the Opens offer the toughest field in FLW Tour pros blast their way through the Okeechobee canals and towards the main lake.pro bass fishing.

While the consensus among the anglers is that the fishing is good, there is little agreement about the state of the spawn. Some pros are adamant that the spawn is over while others insist that a new wave is coming. Those in the new wave camp believe the gradually warming temperatures and new moon will prove irresistible to the last of the laggards.

Count rookie pro Blake Nick in the new wave camp.

"I think there's one more wave coming," said the Adger, Ala., native. "It might not be as widespread, but there's definitely another spawn coming on isolated parts of the lake. There are too many bucks on bed for there not to be. Those bucks are waiting for something."

Sight-fishing guru Dean Rojas also believes more and more fish are coming shallow to spawn.

"Some are saying it's over, but I don't buy that," Rojas said. "I'm going to be doing both some looking and some fishing today. In fact, I think a guy can incorporate some sight-fishing all four tournament days. More and more are going to come up because we've got warm weather lined up for four straight days."


Lastly, Okeechobee local Koby Kreiger believes the spawn is basically over and the big females are few and far between.

"We had such a massive spawn two weeks ago on the other moon I don't know if there's going to be a big wave. From top to bottom, from what it was in the EverStart, I don't think the weights are going to be as good as they were. There are still some fish spawning, but they're not even near as big."

A 50-minute fog delay will shorten the fishing time of the anglers, but it shouldn't have too damaging of an effect on the overall catches.

"I really think this is setting up to be one of the best tournaments FLW has ever had," said Nick.

Logistics

Anglers will take off from Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston at 7 each morning. Thursday and Friday's weigh-ins will also be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday's final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart located at 1005 W. Sugarland Highway in Clewiston beginning at 4 p.m.

Fans will be treated to the FLW Outdoors Expo at Walmart on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes Ranger boat simulators, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by sponsors, and Anglers patiently wait for the fog to lift Thursday morning.learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.

In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. After day two the field is pared to the top 20 pros and co-anglers. The co-angler competition concludes at Saturday's weigh-in and the top-10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days.

On the Web

For those who can't catch the weigh-in action in person, FLWOutdoors.com offers FLW Live, an online application that brings fans real-time weigh-in results, streaming video and audio.

In addition to FLW Live, FLWOutdoors.com is offering real-time updates from the water throughout each day of the Lake Okeechobee event. Simply click on the "On the Water Coverage" banner from any of the FLW Outdoors, Bass and FLW Tour home pages.

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 7:08 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 66 degrees
Expected high temperature: 78 degrees
Water temperature: 67-71 degrees
Wind: SE at 10 mph
Maximum humidity: 74 percent
Day's outlook: partly cloudy

Tags: brett-carlson  morning-story  2011-02-03-lake-okeechobee 

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