UPCOMING EVENT: FLW Pro Circuit - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Sunshine State drizzly departure

Sunshine State drizzly departure
226 boats headed out into the drizzling rain at the 2014 Lake Okeechobee Rayovac FLW Series.

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. - As a jam-packed tournament field of 226 boats headed out towards Lake Okeechobee this morning for the season opener of the Rayovac FLW Series in Florida, some anglers were wondering if they were still in the Sunshine State.

"Looks like Seattle to me!" one angler hollered to another through the persistent drizzle that qualified as rain at times. "No sun today, but at least it's warm!"

Perhaps the "polar vortex" is to blame, but indeed Rayovac FLW Series anglers will fish in dreary, balmy and rainy conditions today, a large departure from normal Big O sunshine.

Earlier in the week, a blast of cold air did truck all the way down through South Florida, dropping night time temperatures into the upper 30's on the top end of Okeechobee. As a result, the water temperature took a substantial hit, dropping some 15 degrees. Those who are ice fishing in Minnesota today may chuckle at a drop in water temperature "of some 15 degrees," but at Okeechobee, that's a serious decline for Florida bass.Former Okeechobee FLW Tour winner Brandon McMillan is ready for action on day one of the Rayovac FLW Series.

Since then the air temperatures have moderated back into the 60's and 70's, but it's the sunshine that's needed to get the water temps back up out of the high 50's. And that's not going to happen today.

"It's been a while since we've had a cold front like this down here," said former Okeechobee FLW Tour and Rayovac FLW Series winner Brandon McMillan. "All last year we never really had any real cold weather to speak of, so it's a bit of a surprise to these bass."

The good news, according to McMillan, is that such cold water temperatures tends to bottleneck the spawn a bit more, creating bigger "waves" of fish that will come in at one time when the biological clock resumes with warmer temperatures.

"When it's warm all winter, these fish can just kind of meander around and spawn anytime they want," McMillan said. "When we get some real cold weather, it tends to put more fish on the same spawning schedule. Some of the best years we've had down here involved some pretty cold weather during the winter to bunch the fish up to come in at the same time."

"But we really need some sun to get the water warmed back up and I don't think that will happen today," he added. "Maybe by Friday afternoon or Saturday it will warm back up into the mid 60's. For that reason I think weights will actually increase as the week goes on. If we had a full moon coming in it would be awesome - that's the perfect storm down here - cold weather and then a warm up that coincides with the full moon."

Okeechobee icon Mike Surman says despite the cold water and lack of sun, big bags will still train to the scales this week.

"Everyone likes the sun down here because it helps the sight-fishing and flipping bite," Surman said. "But the casting and reeling game with soft swimmers like the Big EZ's is still a force here. It hasn't Mike Surman readies a Gambler Big EZ for battle.been a factor the last couple of years, but things are setting up right for that kind of bite in this event."

Surman predicts that by this afternoon's weigh-in there will be a limit or two in the 25- to 28-pound range and a limit or two in the 23- to 25-pound range.

"I also think you'll see a lot more limits in the 18-pound range, which has been rare here the last few years," he said. "Normally you'll have a few bags over 20-pounds then there is a gap down to about 16 pounds. But this year there seems to be a lot more of that 3- to 4-pound class fish that can land you in that 18-pound category."

Logistics
Anglers will take off from C. Scott Driver Park located at 10100 W. Highway 78 in Okeechobee, Fla., at 7:30 a.m. daily. Weigh-ins will be held at the launch site beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturday's final weigh-in will be held at Gilbert Chevrolet located at 3550 U.S. 441 in Okeechobee at 4 p.m. Takeoffs and weigh-ins are free and open to the public

Thursday's conditions

Sunrise: 7:14 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 64 degrees
Expected high temperature: 74 degrees
Water temperature: 58 degrees
Wind: NE 5 to 10
Day's outlook: cloudy, rainy with thunderstorms late

Tags: rob-newell  morning-story  2014-01-09-lake-okeechobee 

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

Lake of the Ozarks Midday Update – Day 1

All the talk leading up the final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks was about the weather. And Mother Nature did not disappoint. READ MORE »

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

Stormy Start at Lake of the Ozarks

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Central Division presented by Evinrude on Lake of the Ozarks will launch right as a massive cold front arrives. How massive? The forecast has been calling for heavy rain and a high of 74 today, and so far hasn’t been wrong. A major thunderstorm greeted anglers this morning and delayed takeoff by an hour and fifteen minutes thanks to abundant lightning. Tomorrow? A high in the mid 40s. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 3

Typically, the first day or two following a cold front put bass in a bad mood, and today, Grand Lake’s fish are following the script. This has created a challenging scenario for the top-10 finalists in the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine. READ MORE »

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

Grand Lake Midday Update – Day 2

You know fishing’s tough when the most common greeting we receive is the goose egg hand signal. No question, day two of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, had a lot of anglers scratching for bites and scratching their heads. READ MORE »

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Changes Afoot at Grand Lake

Fall is a time of change and movement; two notions bound to impact the outcome of the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, on Oklahoma’s Grand Lake. Typical fall migrations are underway, but an approaching cold front will likely complicate the already challenging nature of autumn’s transition. READ MORE »

Underway on the Delta

Underway on the Delta

No matter the weather, no matter the environmental concerns, no matter the fishing pressure, the California Delta remains one of the nation’s most diverse and fertile freshwater fisheries — a truth that should play out in dramatic form during the Costa FLW Series Western Division event. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 3

Weights were already tight going into the final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division finale on the St. Lawrence River, which is presented by Gajo Baits. Little more than a pound separated leader Jonathan Kelley from Casey Smith in fifth place. READ MORE »

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 2

St. Lawrence Midday Update – Day 2

With slightly warmer weather and similar sun and wind conditions, day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the St. Lawrence River should’ve presented optimal conditions for smallmouth. Instead, nearly every angler our on-the-water crew encountered today said the same thing: It’s tougher. READ MORE »

To Run or Not to Run

To Run or Not to Run

The final leg of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division on the St. Lawrence River, presented by Gajo Baits, is primed to be a smallmouth smashfest, as usual. That said, this year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, will launch out of Massena, N.Y., instead of the usual Clayton. So, what was once a 15-or-so-mile run to the mouth of the lake from takeoff – and roughly 30-plus miles to Gallo Island or Main Duck – will now be about a 95-mile run just to get to the lake. READ MORE »

Underway on the Potomac

Underway on the Potomac

For the tournament, the wind isn’t forecast to be too strong any day, and the tides will be fairly standard, but not ideal from a timing standpoint. Today, low tide was at 6:15 a.m., and low tide on Saturday will be at 8:15. That means that pros will mostly be fishing a rising tide through the tournament, with the best windows likely coming early on Friday and Saturday. READ MORE »

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Go-Time Again on Champlain

Each of the last three years have seen the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits kick off on Champlain. This tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but the dominant pattern certainly won’t be spawning smallmouths. Instead, it could be a largemouth slugfest, as the fishing has continued to prove strong on the south end of the lake. READ MORE »

Let the Rayburn Catchfest Begin

Let the Rayburn Catchfest Begin

We’re five months later into the year now, and while the water level at Rayburn has fluctuated in the months since the Tour event, it’s still about 4 1/2 feet above full pool as anglers take to Big Sam for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division event presented by Mercury. READ MORE »

National Championship Gets Going

National Championship Gets Going

Bright and early this morning, 148 teams of the best college bass anglers in the country rolled out for day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Potomac River. The 10th annual National Championship is the culmination of the 2018 season, and the winning duo qualifies for the 2019 FLW Cup and earns a new Ranger boat for its club.  READ MORE »

All-American Underway on the Potomac

All-American Underway on the Potomac

Winning the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American is a lifetime accomplishment, and this week, 49 boaters and co-anglers will have the chance to do it on the Potomac River. Presented by General Tire, the crowning event of the BFL season runs May 30 through June 1, and the winner on the boater side will walk away with $120,000 and a trip to the FLW Cup. READ MORE »

Big Bags Coming on Rainy Clear Lake

Big Bags Coming on Rainy Clear Lake

One of the gems of California bass fishing might have its luster muted by the week’s weather, but Clear Lake will likely still provide plenty of opportunity for anglers competing in this week’s Costa FLW Series Western Division event, which is presented by Ranger Boats and hosted by Konocti Vista Casino Resort & Marina.  READ MORE »

Everything on the Table at Table Rock

Everything on the Table at Table Rock

Stop No. 2 of the Costa FLW Series Central Division, which is presented by Power-Pole and hosted by Explore Branson, is primed to be an all-out show. It seems like the lake’s entire population of bass is rushing to the bank to spawn, with all three species willing to eat a vast array of offerings. The only question: Will Mother Nature play nice? READ MORE »

Tougher but Still Santee Cooper

Tougher but Still Santee Cooper

The Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division finale began this morning at Santee Cooper, where even though fishing has been tough, everyone expects to see mega-bags brought to weigh-in. The bass are nearly done spawning, but a strong shad spawn in the mornings offers real potential. READ MORE »

Everything’s in Play on Kentucky Lake

Everything’s in Play on Kentucky Lake

A squad of 147 boaters and their co-anglers partners enjoyed a pleasant spring morning in western Kentucky for the start of the Costa FLW Series Central Division tournament presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Horizon at Chickamauga

Big Bags on Horizon at Chickamauga

Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event presented by T-H Marine is underway, and by all indications, the fishery is set up to churn out some mega-bags throughout the event. Even during practice, with the water falling well below normal levels, 7-, 8- and 9-pounders weren’t uncommon. Now, with the best anglers in the southeast hard at it, you can expect fireworks. READ MORE »

College Open Weigh-in to Start at Noon

College Open Weigh-in to Start at Noon

Day one of the YETI FLW College Fishing Open on Kentucky Lake was phenomenal in terms of the fishing, and while that may be the case for day two, strong winds forced FLW officials to cut the tournament short by a few hours. READ MORE »