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It's Over-inski

Okeechobee expert Brandon Medlock made a solid run at Osinski on day three, but it wasn't enough. Osinski slammed the door with this pair of hawgs.

Val Osinski of Pompano Beach, Fla., closed out his three-day domination of the Lake Okeechobee Rayovac FLW Series Southeast Division event presented by Power-Pole with a stunning 25-pound, 4-ounce bag on a day where winds gusted upward of 30 mph and nobody else in the field managed to catch 19 pounds. In all, Osinski sacked 70 pounds, 8 ounces and won by 12 pounds, 4 ounces over second-place finisher Brandon Medlock.

Osinski was able to stay in basically the same area in the south end of the lake each day of the tournament but made a number of key adjustments throughout the event that allowed him to consistently bring top-quality weights to the scales. After flipping up 26 pounds with a Gambler Lures Why Not with a matching Gambler Lures KO Punch Skirt on day one, Osinski was in danger of faltering hard on day two until he made a presentation change that shaped his day. The Okeechobee veteran noticed that the fish were biting more aggressively than the first day and swapped to a Gambler Lures Burner Craw, which has bigger and more active appendages than the Why Not, and he slid on a heavier weight. The new approach helped him boat his kicker and make several more culls.

Day three saw Osinski head out in first place, and he got off to a very good start by landing a 6-pounder on the Why Not before the weather got out of hand. Unfortunately, the flipping bite didn’t quite last, as the wind switched and blew from the north, muddying his area. Luckily, the wind also gave him an opportunity.

“When the front came through the fish got really active,” says Osinski. “You could see them chasing shad around, and I started throwing a white lightening-colored Gambler Lures EZ Swimmer with a starflash tan green and gold-colored KO Punch Skirt, and we started to get a ton of bites.”

Osinski, the owner of Gambler Lures, began fishing the EZ Swimmer over places in the hayfields where he had previously marked beds. By locking down with his Power-Poles and making repeated casts to areas of the wind-blown grass that he knew to be productive, Osinski filled the rest of his limit and added a 4-pounder.

As the weather stabilized, but with the wind still gusting hard, Osinski made the move that cinched his win. He decided to flip a series of cattail clumps where floating grass had blown against the cattails. With his trusty Why Not and Punch Skirt combo in hand, the move paid off in a big way – with a 6-pounder and a 9-pounder closed out the tournament and later ignited the crowd at the Clewiston Walmart.

“Historically, this tournament has always been won out of the north,” adds Osinski. “I knew the fish were down south, but I spent my entire practice looking for something better. I just didn’t find anything better, and I went back down south on the final day of practice and put it together.”

 

2nd place - Brandon Medlock - 58 pounds, 4 ounces

Second-place pro Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Fla., tried valiantly to grab the lead, but Osinski’s dominance and uncooperative weather combined to doom his efforts.

The veteran Florida competitor was fishing far from the rest of the field on the north end of the lake, targeting clumps of pencil reeds or cattails mixed with pencil reeds with a black-and-blue 1-ounce Medlock Double Guard Flipping Jig where prespawn females were starting to filter in and spawn.

“I only caught five fish today,” says Medlock. “I basically only had an hour to fish. Once the wind shifted directions and the rollers started coming in my area I was done.

“I’m extremely happy with second place; I was happy just to get to fish,” adds Medlock, who was waitlisted until shortly before the event. “I would have loved to win, but the way he fished, nobody was going to beat Val this week.”

 

3rd place - Joe Holland - 50 pounds, 8 ounces

Joe Holland of Jefferson, Maine, added 14 pounds, 14 ounces to his weight on day three and took a big step toward qualifying for the Rayovac FLW Series Championship.

“I fished the championship last year, and it was incredible,” says Holland. “FLW puts on a great show, and I knew I needed to get back. The points race is the way to get there, so I’m ecstatic about this finish.

“The wind was an issue for everybody, and I tried to mentally block it out,” Holland explains. “Today was about finding the right color of water. I followed the clear water and ended up having a lot of fun.”

Slowing way down and methodically flipping thick cattails produced most of Holland’s fish on day three. He caught them with both a backatya- and gold rush-colored Gambler Lures Why Not rigged on a 1-ounce tungsten weight with doubled Gambler Lures KO Punch Skirts – one in the starflash junebug pattern and one in the hurricane craw color – to add extra attraction.

 

4th place - Mark Daniels Jr. - 48 pounds, 11 ounces

Mark Daniels Jr. of Tuskegee, Ala., brought 10 pounds even to the scale on day three and was one of a number of pros who simply couldn’t back up gigantic bags with subsequent solid catches (he caught 25-15 on day two).

“The wind was everything to me today,” says Daniels. “I was fishing a wide-open area offshore, and it just killed my bite. I wanted to flip mats and throw soft stick baits offshore, and I couldn’t do that today.

“This place really sets up to my strengths, and I really caught them yesterday,” Daniels adds. “I thought I had a good shot to do it again today until I woke up and saw that wind blowing.”

Daniels caught most of his weight on a Texas-rigged YUM Dinger but was forced to mix in some moving baits and craws to scratch out his limit on the final day.

 

5th place - Trevor Fitzgerald - 45 pounds, 8 ounces

Trevor Fitzgerald of Belleview, Fla., hammered them on day one with 24 pounds, 1 ounce, but the wind on day two blew his primary area out and he could never fully recover. He caught 12-13 on day two and 8-10 in the final round.

“Today I went to a spot up in Harney Pond where there were some really good mats, and I caught a few fish there,” Fitzgerald says. “Then I went up to Eagle Bay and flipped places where hyacinths had blown into reeds. I caught quite a few fish today, but I could never get anything big.

“It’s good to make the top 10, but after fishing the B.A.S.S. Open on Lake Toho last week [he finished ninth], I’m ready for a week off,” he adds.

Fitzgerald caught most of his fish on a backatya-colored Gambler Lures BB Cricket flipped on a 1 to 1 1/2-ounce tungsten weight.

 

Top 10 Pros

1st place - Val Osinski - Pompano Beach, Fla. - 70 pounds, 8 ounces

2nd place - Brandon Medlock - Lake Placid, Fla. - 58 pounds, 4 ounces

3rd place - Joe Holland - Jefferson, Maine - 50 pounds, 8 ounces

4th place - Mark Daniels Jr. - Tuskegee, Ala. - 48 pounds, 11 ounces

5th place - Trevor Fitzgerald - Belleview, Fla. - 45 pounds, 8 ounces

6th place - Brandon McMillan - Clewiston, Fla. - 45 pounds, 5 ounces

7th place - Tyler Suddarth - Valdosta, Ga. - 44 pounds, 5 ounces

8th place - Hensley Powell - Whitwell, Tenn. - 43 pounds, 9 ounces

9th place - Scott Martin - Clewiston, Fla. - 43 pounds, 7 ounces

10th place - Tim Frederick - Leesburg, Fla. - 37 pounds, 2 ounces

 

Related Links

- Complete results

- Co-angler headline story

Tags: jody-white  headline-story  2015-01-22-lake-okeechobee 

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