UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Record-breaking redemption

Record-breaking redemption
Pro winner Brandon McMillan holds up his two biggest bass from day four on Lake Okeechobee.

CLEWISTON, Fla. - Lake Okeechobee is back, and the bass fishing has never been better. No one knows that more than local Belle Glade, Fla., pro Brandon McMillan. Fresh off a second-place finish at the recent EverStart Series event, McMillan surpassed the coveted 100-pound mark and set the new Walmart FLW Tour record for heaviest total weight.

The win is special for McMillan for several reasons. For starters, he led the EverStart event with one day left only to slip to second. And in 2009, his father Jimmy won the FLW Series event on Okeechobee. The family now has claimed two Tour-level victories in three years on the Big O, hauling in a quarter-million dollars in the process.

Brandon McMillan celebrates after winning the 2011 FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee.McMillan started the tournament determined to flip mats, despite the urge to sight-fish in the warm, sunny weather. The more pressure the lake received, the stronger his pattern got as the chopped-up vegetation (eel grass, cattails, hydrilla, Kissimmee grass) served as the perfect retreat for weary prespawn females. Later in the tournament he caught a few postspawn bass - meaning he worked the ideal pattern in that fish were both coming and going to the mats.

He wasn't getting as many bites as the other finalists, but the average size was much bigger. McMillan focused on the Dyess Ditch area of the lake, located approximately 12 miles southwest of the Kissimmee River. This was the same area he fished during the EverStart event. On day one he caught 27 pounds; on day two he sacked 28-14. Yesterday he put 25-5 in the boat, and today he rallied from fourth to first on the strength of a 25-pound, 7-ounce limit.

"When I started this tournament, I didn't think sight-fishing could go the distance," McMillan explained. "I thought flipping was the deal, but when they whacked them like that the first two days it worried me. I didn't know if I'd be able to catch up. I didn't know I could win under the mats, but I thought I had enough to make the top 20."

But the near-perfect weather experienced the first three days changed significantly Sunday. Clouds Pro winner Brandon McMillan celebrates with his father and brother after winning the 2011 FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee.rolled in and the wind picked up - all but killing the sight-bite for pro leader Chad Prough and second-place Peter Thliveros. While the minor front made a difference, McMillan said that his experience at the EverStart event taught him how to relax and execute when the title is on the line.

"I never missed a beat today, and that's what I'm most proud of. I got five good bites, and I put all of them in the boat."

McMillan's key baits this week were a black-and-blue Bruiser Intruder and a Gambler BB Cricket in river-bug color. He mainly used the Intruder, but if the mat was too thick, he'd pitch the Cricket. Both lures were tied to 80-pound Sufix braid and presented with either a 1-ounce or 1 1/2-ounce weight. His preferred rod was a 7 1/2-foot G. Loomis flipping stick.

As for his future fishing plans, the 27-year-old UPS driver is signed up for the remaining three FLW Tour Opens.

"I am going to see how I do in those and then reevaluate. But this win changes everything; I won't have For winning the 2011 FLW Tour season opener, pro Brandon McMillan claimed $125,000.to make a house payment for many years.

"I've dreamed about this (winning) for a long time; I watched my dad do it. To go head to head against guys like Tharp, Morgan, Scroggins and Peter T. is just unbelievable. And to win it here, in front of everybody I know and grew up with - it doesn't get any better than that."

For a total weight of 106 pounds, 10 ounces, McMillan earned $125,000. He also etched his name in the FLW Tour record books next to heaviest total weight.

Tharp second

One of Randall Tharp's biggest goals in bass fishing is to win at Lake Okeechobee. While Guntersville is considered his home lake, he travels to Okeechobee every winter to enter a few tournaments and sample some of the best bass fishing southern Florida has to offer. This year Tharp moved to Okeechobee early and has spent nearly two months whacking and stacking. He took fifth at the EverStart and was among a handful of pretournament favorites for the Tour event.

The title once again proved elusive, but Tharp seemed comfortable with this result. In years past, he's lost under some unusual circumstances such as mechanical failure.

"I just wanted one of us to win this tournament," said Tharp, who fished within sight of McMillan all week. "I would have liked it to be me, but Brandon's a class act. If you would have told me that I EverStart pro Randall Tharp finished the FLW Tour opener on Lake Okeechobee in second place with 102 pounds, 2 ounces.would've caught over 100 pounds and not won the tournament, I would have said you're crazy. I will get my win down there (Okeechobee), there is no doubt I will."

There is clearly a mutual respect between the two anglers. McMillan said the most nerve-wracking part of the entire week was watching Tharp stick fish. When Tharp caught his kicker Sunday, McMillan said he about puked. On day two when Tharp broke his strongest flipping stick, McMillan was kind enough to loan him one. Each angler would start on opposite sides of the 300-yard stretch and work their way to the middle, which was typically the best part of the mat. They'd meet each day at approximately 9:15 a.m. Amazingly, neither angler broke the pattern to start on the sweet spot.

"We slugged it out; I can't describe how intense it was. I have never experienced the emotions I felt that final day. My adrenaline is still going. I really knew it was going to come down to either him or me."

Tharp's day-four stringer weighed 20 pounds, 14 ounces - pushing him over the century mark to 102-2. For finishing in second place, he earned $35,000. Before he heads to Beaver Lake for the first FLW Tour Major, he'll make a detour and fish his first-ever Bassmaster Classic in New Orleans.

Tharp's main flipping bait was the Attraxx Mystic Bug with either a 1 1/4- or 1 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight. When he spotted a fish on bed, he would use the new Attraxx Predator Craw with a 1/4-ounce weight, a bait he specifically designed. Tharp tied 70-pound Diawa Samurai braid to the Bug, 55-pound braid to the Craw.

Prough falls to third

After catching 30-pound-plus limits each of the first two days, Prough slowly saw his bountiful Chad Prough wails on another one.area run dry. His day-four catch weighed 13 pounds and pushed his total weight to 100 pounds, 15 ounces. For third place, the Chipley, Fla., native earned $30,000.

"I have no regrets," said Prough. "These were the best four days of my life, and I gave it everything I had."

Prough shared the Kings Bar area with Thliveros and Fred Roumbanis. As the bite dwindled, Prough performed the best among the three - an impressive feat considering this was his first Tour-level event.

"It was cloudier and windier for sure, but I think most of the females finished and left. This morning I had to resort to catching a limit of bucks. At 10 a.m. I knew it was time to vacate, and I ended up upgrading in other areas."

Like McMillan, Prough used the Bruiser Intruder. He also mixed in a Reactions Innovations Trixie Shark as a search tool. The Trixie Shark was especially productive early in the tournament.

Scroggins fourth

Terry "Big Show" Scroggins put on a big show in his first-ever FLW Tour event - catching a 12-pound, 2-ounce bass Sunday, the biggest of the four-day slugfest. He found that brute at 9 in the morning. Terry Scroggins shows off a 12-pound, 2-ounce bass he caught on day four of the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee.Unfortunately, he was unable to pair it with any other kickers, and his stringer weighed only 22 pounds, 1 ounce. Scroggins finished the tournament with 99 pounds, 9 ounces - earning $25,000.

Like many, Scroggins employed a two-pronged approach. His search bait was a Smithwick Devil's Horse, which was particularly effective because he could stop it over a bed and it would retain its position. In contrast, some of the more popular swimbaits like the Skinny Dipper and Big EZ sink when paused.

"I nicknamed the Devil's Horse the donkey, because you fish it slow and steady. A lot of times they just roll on it, but then they've shown themselves and I could pitch back to it."

Once he had a female located, Scroggins would employ a Yum Money Craw (molting-craw color).

"I had three 7-pounders saved for today, but they must have swam off over night."

Scroggins' primary area, located near the mouth of the Kissimmee River, was shared earlier in the week with 11th- and 12th-place pros Glenn Browne and Trevor Fitzgerald.

Powroznik fifth

Each of the last two days, Duracell/Gillette pro Jacob Powroznik covered so much water in search of Fifth-place pro Jacob Powroznik holds up his two biggest bass from day four on Lake Okeechobee.spawning bass that his trolling-motor batteries died. It was a pattern he committed to from the start, and instead of focusing on open areas, he pushed his boat back into thick reeds and hydrilla. He focused his efforts on the north end of the lake, up around Horse Island.

On day four the Prince George, Va., native caught a limit worth 18 pounds, 2 ounces - by far his lightest sack of the week. His lone kicker Sunday weighed 7 pounds, 13 ounces and fell to a Gambler Big EZ swimbait. Powroznik's four-day cumulative weight registered 95 pounds even, good enough for fifth place and $20,000.

"I caught 95 percent of my fish this week on a new Attraxx bait I designed called the Jacobug," said Powroznik. "The best color was watermelon-red, but I also used white.

"Today might have been a different story if the weather had been different. The clouds and wind made it much harder to sight-fish. Where I was fishing, there was 4 feet of water. They were spawning underneath the hydrilla, and you had to look under there, which was tough without the sun."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros at the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee:

6th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., 89-1, $17,000
7th: Fred Roumbanis of Bixby, Okla., 85-3, $16,000 + $500 from Big Bass
8th: Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 84-9, $15,000
9th: Peter Thliveros of Saint Augustine, Fla., 82-14, $14,000
10th: Jake Morris of McKee, Ky., 82-8, $13,000

The next FLW Tour event is slated for Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark., March 3-6, the first of six Majors.

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

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Miller Wins Wild Card on Kentucky Lake

Weighing limits of 15 pounds, 13 ounces on day one and 15-3 on day two, Michael Miller of Greenville, S.C., overcame a tough-fishing Kentucky Lake to win the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card and qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

Coastal Carolina Wins on Hartwell  

The Coastal Carolina University duo of Max McQuaide of Tyngsborough, Mass., and Grant Tattersall, of Conway, S.C., won the YETI FLW College Fishing tournament at Lake Hartwell presented by Costa with a five-bass limit weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces. The victory earned the Chanticleers’ bass club $2,000 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

Allison Comes from Behind on Cumberland

By catching four quality smallmouth bass on the final day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland, Missourian Chad Allison was able to come back from 10th place and win the co-angler division, earning more than $30,000. READ MORE »

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

Upshaw Closes on Cumberland

For the second time this season, Andrew Upshaw is an FLW champion thanks to consistent days spent targeting big Southern smallmouths. The Tulsa, Okla., pro won the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Ky., with a three-day total weight of 42 pounds, 15 ounces. The win comes less than seven months after Upshaw won the FLW Tour event on Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Cumberland

FLW media staff provides unofficial weight estimates for the 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Cumberland Day 3 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw continues to roll on Cumberland. READ MORE »

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Upshaw Moves Ahead at Cumberland

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland was a bit tougher for some, given the post-frontal conditions featuring lighter winds, sun and cold temperatures. As projected, consistency has been the key and Andrew Upshaw continued to dial in his program adding 15 pounds, 1 ounce to his day-one bag of 14-15 for a total of 30 pounds even. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Cumberland Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Championship proved to be about as challenging as many anglers anticipated after a tough practice period, but it wasn’t all bad. Zimbabwe’s Roger Cousens certainly wasn’t complaining. His tournament-leading 17-pound, 2-ounce bag was exactly what he had hoped for as the tournament kicked off, and he’s gunning for another big stringer today. READ MORE »

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

Zimbabwe’s Cousens Grabs Lead

The FLW International Division is well represented in the Costa FLW Series Championship, and perhaps none represented the division better than Roger Cousens of Zimbabwe, who didn’t seem bothered by the stingy conditions of Lake Cumberland on day one. With the only bag that topped 17 pounds for the day (17-2), Cousens enters day two with a 3-ounce lead over Robert Nakatomi, who qualified from the Western Division. READ MORE »

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

Cumberland Day 1 Coverage

With rain early and a cold snap forecasted to move in this afternoon, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Championship on Lake Cumberland could present some unique challenges for the 193-boat field, especially after a fairly mild and pleasant practice period.  READ MORE »

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Roger Fitzpatrick has had quite a fall fishing season. He won the BFL Super Tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in September, then qualified for the All-American by winning the BFL Regional on Grand Lake in October. READ MORE »

Drury Wins on Lake of the Ozarks

Drury Wins on Lake of the Ozarks

The Drury University duo of Cole Breeden of Eldridge, Missouri and Cameron Smith, of Nixa, Missouri, won the YETI FLW College Fishing event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Bass Pro Shops with a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 9 ounces. The victory earned the Panthers’ bass club $2,650 and a slot in the 2020 FLW College Fishing National Championship. READ MORE »

Myers Makes Long Run for Kentucky Win

Myers Makes Long Run for Kentucky Win

Mark Myers of Cedar Falls, Iowa, is no stranger to the victory circle with FLW, having previously won a BFL as a boater to go with two FLW Tour victories as a co-angler and two more as a co-angler in Costa FLW Series competition. But, his latest win at the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes is the realization of his long-time goal to qualify for the All-American. READ MORE »

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

Beavers Wins Potomac Regional

A severe storm backed up the tides and drained many of the best areas on the Potomac. Adjusting to the unusual conditions and grinding out daily limits were the keys to success in the BFL Regional. READ MORE »

New Dominates Seminole Regional

New Dominates Seminole Regional

Belmont, N.C., angler Bryan New, who’s regularly one of FLW’s top performers in the grassroots ranks, had established a dominant pace. New weighed in 22 pounds, 9 ounces on day one and added 20-2 on day two to carry a lead of 6 pounds, 15 ounces into the finals. A roughly 7-pound margin isn’t necessarily a sure thing on Seminole, but the fall bite was a bit slower than what the lake can produce, and it was obvious New was cruising. READ MORE »

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

Hays Rallies for Ozark Title

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude was no walk in the park for the top 10 pros. With a cold front passing through at the start of the event, a high-pressure system settled in for the final round of fishing. While most struggled, Dylan Hays of El Dorado, Ark., sacked up 14 pounds, 6 ounces today – the biggest limit brought in during the final day – and finally was able to wrangle his first FLW title. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude is fixing to get fun based on what’s already happened today and what could happen. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Lake of the Ozarks – Day 2

Sure enough, with conditions changing from rain and clouds to sun and wind, the Costa FLW Series Central Division on Lake of the Ozarks, which is presented by Evinrude, has made it tough on guys. Of course, day-two leader James Watson predicted that some of the biggest bags of the event would come in today despite the conditions, and he was right. READ MORE »

Consistency Puts Watson Out Front

Consistency Puts Watson Out Front

Weather has been the storyline leading up to the Costa FLW Series Central Division finale on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Evinrude. With storms and rain blowing through yesterday ahead of a cold front, the cooler weather set in today making fishing tough on some, but others took advantage of the change. READ MORE »

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 2

A cold front that brought temperatures in the 40s, rain and wind has the bass in a funk on day two of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks. READ MORE »