UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Potomac River

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Conditions are Changing on the Big O

Conditions are Changing on the Big O
Scott Martin puts the hammer down and heads out onto his home lake.

Day one of the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole kicked off this morning out of C. Scott Driver Park. A full field of 250 pros and co-anglers blasted off in the first stop of the 2016 Southeastern Division, which is hosted by Okeechobee County Tourism. Competition will be tough as the anglers vie for the $60,000 top prize.

The lake has been on fire recently. Last weekend, the BFL series opener took a whopping 31 pounds to win. However, conditions have changed, and anglers are reporting a tougher bite in the wake of a cold front that moved in this week.

 

About the Fishery

Okeechobee is known as one of the best fisheries on the planet. It encompasses more t han 450,000 acres of grass-filled water, making the lake a big-fish factory. The lake has many well-known areas that hold fish – such as the Monkey Box, Harney Pond and South Bay – and they should all be players this week. Though it looks large on a map, the lake often fishes small come tournament time as anglers crowd in to popular community holes.

 

Current Conditions

It was a brisk 60 degrees at the 7:30 takeoff. The anglers will be battling post-frontal conditions today, but warmer weather is forecast for the upcoming days. However, the warmer air is predicted to bring wind and rain with it. Friday, the forecast is for heavy rain and a strong southern wind. A steady blow could raise the water level on the northern part of the lake by nearly a foot or more and throw a major wrench in many game plans.

 

Tactics in Play

It sounds like a decent wave of bass have already spawned. Anglers are seeing empty beds and fry swimming around. This cold snap will likely delay the next wave and push bass deeper into the vegetation. Flipping into the heavy mats with compact Texas-rigged plastics or heavy jigs will be the strategy of many anglers. If the water temps rise by Saturday, then moving baits – vibrating jigs, swim jigs and swimbaits – could be factors to put numbers of fish in the boat.

 

Critical Factors

Catching a heavy bag today will be crucial. Randy Haynes, who had a strong finish in this event last year, made that clear.

“You need a big bag on day one, probably around 30 pounds. Then maybe 15 to 18 pounds on the following days," he says. "I don’t see anyone staying consistent in this weather.”

The other big thing to keep an eye on will be the wind and how it affects water clarity. Strong winds can dirty up water in a hurry on this pond, and having an alternative plan to combat that is crucial. Guys with prior experience on Okeechobee or who put extra time in during practice developing a contingency plan have a strong shot at making it to Saturday.

 

Dock Talk

Catching a limit will not be hard. Anglers can catch small 13-inch males guarding fry until they are blue in the face, but finding the larger females will be the key to a winning bag. We’ve heard estimates from 59 to 65 pounds to be the winning weight.

 

Tournament Details

Format: All 250 boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m.

Takeoff Location: C. Scott Driver Park, 10100 West Highway 78, Okeechobee, FL 34972

Weigh-In Time: Days 1 & 2 & 3 at 3 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: C. Scott Driver Park, 10100 West Highway 78, Okeechobee, FL 34972

 

Big Money on the Big O

Lake Okeechobee has been like money in the bank for Costa FLW Series anglers – literally. It’s figured into some of the richest payouts in Series history, including what was then a record for a regular-season payout to the entire field: $417,000 for a Southeastern Division event in 2015.

 

This year’s tournament pays even more, given the new enhanced payout system that scales up proportionally across all places and pays out additional prize money for every 10 boats that enter beyond the 150-boat baseline. If all possible contingencies are paid out, plus Big Bass awards, the grand total of cash and prizes at the 2016 Costa FLW Series opener with its maximum field of 250 boats will be $466,050, with an impressive $105,000 in cash and prizes going to the winning pro.

 

Here’s how the paychecks break down at Lake Okeechobee this weekend, based on standings and the Big Bass prize money:

Place  Pro                   Ranger Cup                                            Co-angler                                Ranger Cup

1          $60,000            Ranger Z518C with                                 Ranger Z175 with

                                     200HP Outboard                                     90HP Outboard + $2,500         $5,000

2           $25,500                                                                           $7,500                                   

3           $17,000                                                                           $6,000                                   

4           $15,000                                                                           $4,500                                   

5           $14,000                                                                           $4,000                                   

6           $10,500                                                                           $3,500                                   

7             $9,000                                                                           $3,000                                   

8             $8,000                                                                           $2,250                                   

9             $7,000                                                                           $1,700                                   

10           $5,000                                                                           $1,450                                   

11           $4,700                                                                           $1,100                                   

12           $4,000                                                                           $1,100                                   

13           $3,500                                                                           $1,100                                   

14           $3,500                                                                           $1,100                                   

15           $3,500                                                                           $1,100                                   

16           $3,500                                                                               $900                                   

17           $3,500                                                                               $900                                   

18           $3,500                                                                               $900                                   

19           $3,500                                                                               $900                                   

20           $3,500                                                                               $900                                   

21           $2,850                                                                               $800                                   

22           $2,850                                                                               $800                                   

23           $2,850                                                                               $800                                   

24           $2,850                                                                               $800                                   

25           $2,850                                                                               $800                                   

26           $2,600                                                                               $700                                   

27           $2,600                                                                               $700                                   

28           $2,600                                                                               $700                                   

29           $2,600                                                                               $700                                   

30           $2,600                                                                               $700                                   

31           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

32           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

33           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

34           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

35           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

36           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

37           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

38           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

39           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

40           $2,200                                                                               $600                                   

41           $2,180                                                                               $590                                   

42           $2,180                                                                               $590                                   

43           $2,180                                                                               $590                                   

44           $2,160                                                                               $580                                   

45           $2,160                                                                               $580                                   

46           $2,140                                                                               $570                                   

47           $2,140                                                                               $570                                   

48           $2,140                                                                               $570                                   

49           $2,120                                                                               $560                                   

50           $2,120                                                                               $560                                   

51           $2,120                                                                               $560                                   

52           $2,120                                                                               $550                                   

53           $2,120                                                                               $550                                   

54           $2,080                                                                               $540                                   

55           $2,080                                                                               $540                                   

56           $2,080                                                                               $540                                   

57           $2,080                                                                               $530                                   

58           $2,080                                                                               $530                                   

59           $2,080                                                                               $530                                   

60           $2,040                                                                               $520                                   

61           $2,040                                                                               $520                                   

62           $2,020                                                                               $510                                   

63           $2,020                                                                               $510                                   

64           $2,020                                                                               $510                                   

65           $2,000                                                                               $500                                   

66           $2,000                                                                               $500                                   

67           $2,000                                                                               $500                                   

BB1           $300                                                                               $200                                   

BB2           $300                                                                               $200                                   

 

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Tags: lake-okeechobee  chris-burgan  morning-story  2016-01-14-lake-okeechobee 

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