UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Hartwell

Okeechobee Practice with Scott Martin

Okeechobee Practice with Scott Martin

Scott Martin is heading into the first Walmart FLW Tour event of the season with a full head of steam. After earning what might be the first of many Angler of the Year titles in 2015, he gets to kick off the year sleeping in his own bed and fishing Lake Okeechobee, the place where he grew up and where he has caught more than 50 bass weighing more than 10 pounds.

As such, there’s no one better to tag along with for a morning on the Big O.

 

 

After launching outside of the lock at Clewiston (the lock is closed due to the unusually high water in the lake), Martin headed out into one of Okeechobee’s many vast reed flats. The flats rim much of the lake, and are of varying composition. Sometimes cattails are totally impenetrable, and other times they open into big fields filled with pads, wiregrass and other vegetation.

 

Once he’d started fishing, the Clewiston pro was catching fish right off the bat. He started out in one of the hayfields, moving across it with the wind in a rough zigzag pattern. The vast sameness of Okeechobee is a challenge for many, and while Martin certainly knows many of the productive areas, he still needed to fish through them to find bass.

Every so often, he’d get a couple bites grouped together or spot a few beds in the hayfield and drop a waypoint to mark the spot. He says that even though big sections look the same, the fish will often group up on more specific spots within them. Though he doesn’t have any scientific research to support it, Martin’s assumption is that schools of fish usually move into the hayfields together and simply stay close when they begin spawning.

 

The Florida veteran says that one of the biggest mistakes he sees made on Okeechobee is that anglers will often fish into the wind. The shallow Florida bass necessitate stealth, and Martin always kept the wind at his back as he drifted and trolled through the grass in search of concentrations of bass. Come tournament time, or if the wind was strong, this is where Power-Poles come in especially handy.

 

This fish came while he was on the phone with his dad, Roland Martin, who was checking up on his progress. Though Roland is certainly an interested party, Scott wants a win more badly than most this week. With a long history and one win already under his belt on Okeechobee, Scott for sure has the tools to make it happen. He’s also more nervous for this one than usual because Okeechobee isn’t the same as always. The high water has changed some things and opened up parts of the lake previously inaccessible to bass and anglers. With that change comes opportunity. Scott is happy to chase consistency and another AOY, but he knows he’s got a chance to win this round.

 

Deep in the hayfields the water is super clear, with visibility down to almost 6 feet. Despite the high water, the constant presence of clean water way back in the reeds has Martin thinking that a sight-fishing party might be about to break out. 

 

Martin started the day with a fair number of rods on deck, but nothing crazy by Tour pro standards. He knows what to throw on Okeechobee, and though the high water has changed some things, the Florida standbys still get the job done. When he did pause to make a change, he was very organized, with the plastics he needed in a plastic tote and a bag and all his hooks and weights neatly organized in their own tackle trays.

 

Okeechobee is famous for being a community hole lake, but that wasn’t apparent today. There was an angler or two in most areas that Martin stopped but never any crowding. Even when someone is fishing a couple hundred yards away as Wesley Strader is in this picture, you still might not see him due to an intervening clump of cattails.

 

Martin began the day casting moving baits and pitching lighter soft plastics to pockets in the wiregrass and pads. Once the sun began to peek out from the clouds, he picked up his flipping stick for some cattail clumps. The sunshine also gave him the chance to simply cruise a bit on the trolling motor looking for beds.

 

It didn’t take long for his new strategy to pay off with the best fish of the morning. Though not a tournament winner on Okeechobee, this one could be a sign that the fishing is getting better by the minute.

 

Midmorning, it was time for me to head back to Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and Resort. Nevertheless, Martin still made a few stops along the way to check the water clarity. This water is good to go – dark and clear just like it should be. Martin may well be back in the area before the day is done to check it for bass.

 

Martin let his Evinrude eat a little as we rolled back to the ramp in earnest. Now that pros use their own boats all four days during Tour events, he’s hoping to be running down Okeechobee in this boat looking for the win on Sunday. 

Tags: scott-martin  lake-okeechobee    jody-white  pre-tournament  2016-02-04-lake-okeechobee 

Stephen F. Austin State University Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

Stephen F. Austin State University Wins Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. – The Stephen F. Austin State University duo of Christopher Harrison and Ethan LeGare weighed a five-bass limit Friday totaling 20 pounds, 8 ounces to win the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance at the Harris Chain of Lakes... READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 2

Brian Elder took over the lead at the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga today by running the opposite direction of most of the rest of the top anglers. Elder went upstream, while many of his competitors ran south. As usual, most of the pros are keeping specific lures and techniques close to the vest. Here’s what the top five have revealed so far. READ MORE »

Elder Takes Over at Chickamauga

Elder Takes Over at Chickamauga

Brian Elder of Locust Grove, Ga., took over the lead at the Toyota Series Central Division event at Lake Chickamauga today with a five-bass limit that weighed 25 pounds, 4 ounces. His limit today is the biggest of the tournament so far and gives Elder a two-day total of 37-6. He’s just 10 ounces ahead of second-place pro Jim Neece Jr. and 1 pounds, 9 ounces ahead of third-place pro Brent Butler, who was tied for first after day one. The top 10 pros and co-anglers compete in tomorrow’s final round.  READ MORE »

SFA Wins National Championship

SFA Wins National Championship

After an exciting final weigh-in, the Stephen F. Austin team of Hank Harrison and Ethan LeGare were crowned champions of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain. Due to an inadvertent violation of Rule 12, the leading McKendree University team of Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis had their final-day weight disqualified. Weighing the biggest bag of the day at 20 pounds, 8 ounces, Harrison and LeGare totaled 56-5 to win. READ MORE »

Lake Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 2

Friday morning at the Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga was not for the faint of heart. At the 7 a.m. takeoff all was good, other than the thermometer hovering around the freezing mark. About 8:30, however, a small front moved in, bringing with it a bitter wind and a “wintry mix” to the Tennessee Valley. It began as snow with winds stout enough to blow the flakes sideways. But it soon turned into sleet and then a light, cold rain. READ MORE »

College Championship Updates - Day 3

College Championship Updates - Day 3

Day three of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance is underway on the Harris Chain. The link to yesterday's top patterns is below, and we'll try to check in here about every hour with updates from around the field. Today is the final day, and at the end, one team is going to walk away with a new Phoenix boat and the title of National Champions. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Chickamauga – Day 1

This story is supposed to be about the top five pros’ patterns, but it’s tough to write much when virtually every angler is fishing the exact same pattern. Miles Burghoff from Soddy Daisy, Tenn., and Brent Butler from Vonore, Tenn., both ended up with exactly 21 pounds, 9 ounces, creating a two-way tie for first place going into day two. They were mostly throwing lipless crankbaits. Here’s what the remaining top five anglers were doing. READ MORE »

McKendree University Moves to Top at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

McKendree University Moves to Top at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. – Illinois’ McKendree University’s team of Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis moved to the top of the leaderboard Thursday on Day Two of the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance at the Harris Chain of Lakes after... READ MORE »

Butler, Burghoff Tied for Chickamauga Lead

Butler, Burghoff Tied for Chickamauga Lead

Brent Butler, who won the 2019 Toyota Series event on Lake Chickamauga, is aiming for back-to-back victories this week in the 2020 Central Division opener on the same lake. His opening-day limit of 21 pounds, 9 ounces has him in first place and in prime position to have a shot at a second Chickamauga title. If he wants to do it, Butler will have to outlast Tennessee transplant Miles Burghoff, who’s coming off a top-10 finish at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event at the Harris Chain of Lakes and is tied for the lead on Chickamauga after one day.  READ MORE »

McKendree Cruises Ahead on Harris

McKendree Cruises Ahead on Harris

After two days on the Harris Chain for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance, McKendree University’s Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis backed up their 22-pound, 10-ounce performance from day one with another 20-2 today to take the lead. READ MORE »

Lake Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 1

Lake Chickamauga Midday Update – Day 1

“Tough” was the catch word during the first morning of the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga. The overnight cold front that moved in brought a dusting of snow on the surrounding mountaintops and freezing temperatures everywhere. The bass seemingly did not appreciate the quick change in the weather. READ MORE »

College Championship Updates - Day 2

College Championship Updates - Day 2

Day two of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance is underway on the Harris Chain. The link to yesterday's top patterns is below, and we'll try to check in here about every hour with updates from around the field.  READ MORE »

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Despite Cold, Expect Mega-Bags at Chick

Freezing temperatures greeted anglers for the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga this morning. As usual on Lake Chickamauga this time of year, every angler is hoping for a 30-pound-plus bag of bass during the Feb. 27-29 tournament. READ MORE »

Sam Houston State University Takes Early Lead at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

Sam Houston State University Takes Early Lead at Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. – The Sam Houston State University duo of Bryton Kurtz and Jackson Carrell grabbed the early lead Wednesday after Day One of the 2020 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance. The Bearkats team brought a five-bass... READ MORE »

Sam Houston Leads with 24-11

Sam Houston Leads with 24-11

Day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain certainly didn’t disappoint. The consensus from many of the teams during practice was that the chain was fishing tough, yet would kick up some solid bags on Tuesday. With 10 bags over 18 pounds and six over 20, it’s safe to say the Harris Chain is living up to it’s potential. READ MORE »

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Warren “Butch” Kritsberg has only lived in Florida for a few years, and he’s still learning a lot about fishing the Harris Chain of Lakes. Fortunately, he now has a lot of new intel about where and how to catch giants after riding along with Laramy Strickland on the second tournament day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event, which was presented by Bad Boy Mowers. READ MORE »

College Championship Updates - Day 1

College Championship Updates - Day 1

Day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance is underway on the Harris Chain. READ MORE »

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

Championship week for any sport is as exciting as it gets and it’s no different for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance this week on the Harris Chain. Competing for a $30,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, 162 college bass fishing clubs will have free range of the chain to vie for the title. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Each day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain of Lakes was markedly different from the day prior. Most of the field struggled a bit, and the final 30 anglers were left scrambling to figure out how to find and catch fish in the post-frontal conditions that are often so detrimental for Florida largemouths.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

Prespawn Showdown Coming to Ross Barnett

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine kicks off its 2020 Mississippi Division schedule at Ross Barnett Reservoir on March 7. Ross Barnett is an annual early season stop for FLW and the first crack at gaining essential points in the race to qualify for this fall’s Regional. This time around, anglers might have to navigate tricky conditions due to a wet and rainy winter. READ MORE »