UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2019 - Grand Lake

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Okeechobee Heating Up

Okeechobee Heating Up

The weather over the last few weeks in Florida has been, well, not so Florida-like. Wave after wave of cold front has riddled the Sunshine State, leaving the bass in lockdown mode. Hope is on the horizon, though, for the entire field of the Walmart FLW Tour with a forecast calling for warmer weather in the days leading up to the start of the season-opener on Lake Okeechobee Feb. 4-7.

 

Recent History

So far in 2016 FLW has held two events on the Big O. The first, in early January, was an FLW Bass Fishing League event that took 31 pounds to win for one day. The second was the Jan. 14-16 Costa FLW Series tournament, which took just 44 pounds, 12 ounces over three days of fishing to win.

Wild weather has been the culprit for showing the two sides of Okeechobee.

“The weather before the BFL was stable and warm,” says Justin Morgan, who is from Okeechobee, Fla., and fished both the BFL and Costa FLW Series events. “The fish were really moving up shallow to spawn during the BFL, and the weights were good. Right after that is when that cold front came in, and that always affects the fish down here. The weights [for the Costa FLW Series] reflected that.”

Just for reference, prior to the BFL tournament, water temperatures on the lake were flirting with 80 degrees. During the Costa FLW Series tournament, anglers reported water temps in the low 60s. A drop of only a few degrees can put the fish in a funk. The drastic change threw a major wrench in the plans of Okeechobee bass.

Brandon Medlock is another Florida bass fishing stud who has experienced the weird weather swings that have been plaguing the region.

“The lake was setting up for a good wave of fish to spawn before the BFL,” adds Medlock. “Then a cold front came through right after the BFL, and another front rolled in right after the Costa FLW Series, which is never good. That is very uncharacteristic for January.”

 

Locating Clean Water

Anglers were enjoying plenty of clean water across Lake Okeechobee prior to the BFL tournament. Because of the frequency of rains and resulting runoff since then, plus high winds that have roiled the waters, the situation has changed. 

“Fishing clean water is always a key in Florida,” notes Medlock. “But all the wind we’ve had with those cold fronts has destroyed the clarity. Finding an area with clean water will be really important during the Tour event. For the guys that do, there should be a bunch of fish in it.”

 

Be Ready for a Wave

The warming trend that is forecast for the coming week should bring high hopes for both anglers and bass fishing fans. Medlock and Morgan have been out on the lake recently and say that the water temperature is on the rise, and that should have the big girls looking for love.

“I haven’t seen a lot of beds,” Morgan says. “I know the fish want to push up to spawn based on how they are acting. There are a lot of fish in staging areas that they typically get in to feed up before the spawn. There are a lot of males, and usually when you get a concentration like that the females aren’t too far behind.”

“In Florida the bass don’t need a [particular phase of the] moon to spawn,” adds Medlock. “It helps, but they don’t need it. Rising water temp is the biggest thing. All of the cold fronts we’ve had I think halted several waves of fish that wanted to spawn. From the forecast I’ve seen I think there will be a lot of fish moving in as the guys are practicing.

“The bite has been picking up over the last few days, but from what I can tell most of the fish are resident fish because of how dark-colored they are,” Medlock continues. Bass that move in off the main lake to spawn are often very pale. “The water temp was around 56 on Monday [Jan. 25], and just the other day it was 65. That will trigger a lot of fish to start moving up.”

Medlock and Morgan also agree that the scenario panning out for the season opener couldn’t be any better. A prolonged period of cool weather giving way to several days of sunny, warm conditions will be the kick in the tail that Okeechobee bass need to wake up.

 

A Perfect Storm?

Another slight cold front is expected to roll in midway through the tournament, however forecasters expect a quick air temperature turn-around – from the upper 60s back into the upper 70s by the final day – so it might not be too troublesome for pros. The fish have been hunkered down for so long that they will take full advantage of the nice weather.

“This is really a perfect recipe for a killer tournament,” Medlock says. “The lack of warm weather we’ve had should make it even better. I believe there are four waves of fish that will pull up [to spawn] at once. It is a very similar situation to when Randall Tharp and Brandon McMillan won back in 2012 and 2011. I could see someone breaking 100 pounds next week.”

 

Tournament Details

Walmart FLW Tour Stop No. 1

Lake Okeechobee

Clewiston, Fla.

Feb. 4-7, 2016

Presented by Ranger Boats

Hosted by Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort and Hendry County Tourism Development Council

 

Takeoffs

7:30 a.m. ET each day


Days one and two

Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort

920 E Del Monte Avenue

Clewiston, FL


Days three and four

Clewiston Boat Basin & Launch

709 Hoover Dike Road

Clewiston, FL

 

Weigh-ins

3 p.m. ET days one and two
Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort
920 E Del Monte Avenue
Clewiston, FL


4 p.m. ET days three and four

Walmart

1005 W Sugarland Hwy.

Clewiston, FL


Complete tournament details

Tags: lake-okeechobee  kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2016-02-04-lake-okeechobee 

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

It’s not often an angler wins a Strike King Angler of the Year title in a Costa FLW Series division by chance, and while skill is what carried Jake Morris to his first Costa AOY title, chance definitely brought him to the opportunity. READ MORE »

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

After winning a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell a few weeks ago, Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., was certainly one of the favorites heading into the BFL Regional on the same pond this past weekend. Lo and behold, he wouldn’t disappoint, and notched his 11th career BFL win – five of which have come on Hartwell – and won a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower motor, plus $20,000 cash for his efforts. READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

The final five T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournaments took place over the weekend, bringing BFL regular-season competition to a close. Regional tournaments will kick off Oct. 10, and by the end of the month the majority of the field for the 2020 All-American will be set.  READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

The third round of T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament action saw smallmouths, spotted bass and largemouths all make an appearance as six divisions put a bow on the season with their respective two-day events. Here’s a quick recap of what all played out in the action spanning from the Detroit River down to Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Naples' Donny Bass Wins Two-Day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Okeechobee

Naples' Donny Bass Wins Two-Day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Event on Lake Okeechobee

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Boater Donny Bass of Naples, Florida, brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 40 pounds, 9 ounces, to win the two-day T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division super-tournament on Lake Okeechobee Sunday. Bass earned $6,137 for his efforts... READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 2

The second weekend in September saw seven more T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) divisions conclude their seasons with two-day Super Tournament events. From the Tennessee River to the St. Lawrence River and a few places in between, here’s a quick look at how the seven events were won. READ MORE »

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Big Smallmouths, Big Water for Season Finale

Any tournament with smallmouths in it is a good one, but when the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits heads to the St. Lawrence River it's usually a show-stopper. This year’s event, which is presented by Realtree Fishing, shouldn’t be any different as the Northern Division looks to close its season out on one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the world September 19-21. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 1

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 1

College football, hooded sweatshirts and the conclusion of the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) regular season are what come to mind as the calendar turns to September. This past weekend, six divisions put a feather in their cap for the year with their two-day Super Tournament events – where the payouts are bigger – but, more importantly, it’s the last chance to accumulate points to qualify for the Regionals this October. READ MORE »

How to Finesse Weed line Largemouths

How to Finesse Weed line Largemouths

When it comes to finesse baits that put fish in the boat, the Ned rig has certainly earned a spot as a go-to for bass anglers across the country. While it catches pretty much everything that swims, most of the attention gets put on catching northern smallmouths or Ozarks-region largemouths and spotted bass with it.   READ MORE »

The Smallmouth-Alewife Connection

The Smallmouth-Alewife Connection

Smallmouths across the Great Lakes region and North Country have no shortage of food to eat, but while they’re very opportunistic, they can also get locked in on certain forage from time to time. One of their favorites, when present, is the alewife. READ MORE »

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Another Potomac Rumble Looms

Moving south from Lake Champlain, the second stop of the 2019 Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits is on the Potomac River. The tournament, which is presented by Lowrance and runs Aug. 22-24, should offer a fairly standard set of August conditions for the anglers, with plenty of quality largemouths to go around. READ MORE »

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Smith Honored with Sportsmanship, Community Leadership Award

Capt. Blake Smith was presented with the 2019 Forrest L. Wood Sportsmanship & Community Leadership Award by the award’s namesake, Forrest Wood, at the 2019 FLW Cup pre-tournament banquet in Hot Springs, Ark. Smith, of Lakeland, Fla., has fished the FLW Tour since 2015. READ MORE »

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Day 3 of Practice with Scanlon

Casey Scanlon won the FLW Tour season finale at Lake Champlain, which he almost had to do to make the FLW Cup. Now that he’s here at Lake Hamilton, he’s got a shot at $300,000 and a possible edge over the competition due to his momentum and extensive Ozark experience. READ MORE »

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Hard Lessons and the FLW Cup

Two terrible tournaments to end the season cost Miles Burghoff his shot at the Polaris Rookie of the Year title. This week at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton, he's hoping to apply the lessons learned at the end of the season to his preparation for the championship event. READ MORE »

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

Thrift Roams Hamilton on Day 2

In seemingly any tournament that Bryan Thrift shows up to he is without a doubt one of the favorites to win. With two FLW Tour Angler of the Year titles, six Tour wins and five Costa FLW Series wins – including his most recent on Lake Champlain just a few weeks ago – it’s easy to understand why. READ MORE »

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

Riding Around Practice on Day 2

In a Ranger Z520L with a 250-hp Evinrude G2, it takes about 15 minutes to run from Carpenter Dam, which impounds Lake Hamilton, to the Blakely Mountain Dam that separates Hamilton from Lake Ouachita. If you stop and chat with 11 pros along the way, however, you’ll need most of the morning, but you’ll also wind up with a pretty sound idea of what’s going on at Hamilton for this week’s FLW Cup. READ MORE »

The First Morning with B. Lat

The First Morning with B. Lat

You won’t hear Brian Latimer complain about hot weather and tough fishing in Arkansas during this week’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton. For B. Lat, sweating it out on the water is vastly better than working in the heat installing landscaping and mowing lawns for a living, which is what he was doing just a few years ago. A lot’s changed since those days. Now, Latimer is an FLW Tour champion, with a growing fishing media company and his first shot at a Cup title. READ MORE »