UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Lake Erie

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Tour Notes: Lake Okeechobee

Tour Notes: Lake Okeechobee

The kickoff of the Walmart FLW Tour down at Lake Okeechobee was a whirlwind tournament. Now that we’ve had a few days to reflect on the opener, here are some of the more interesting events, facts and observations from Clewiston, Fla., that were previously unreported.

 

Hallman wins without limiting

Winning typically takes lots of fish and lots of big fish. Last week at Lake Okeechobee, Bradley Hallman had the big fish part down pat, but the last two days of the event were a struggle for everyone, including the champ. Hallman failed to bring limits to the stage on days three and four. Tournament results from the late 1990s and early 2000s on Okeechobee are littered with four-day events where the winners didn’t catch a limit every day, but Hallman was the first to win a four-day event there with less than the full complement of fish since the 2009 FLW Series Eastern Division event won by the late Jimmy McMillan.

Interestingly, fifth-place pro Shin Fukae finished in the top five of that 2009 event as well.

 

McMillan magic rubs off

While down competing in Florida, the Canadian trio of Chris and Cory Johnston and Jeff “Gussy” Gustafson all stayed with noted Okeechobee hammer Brandon McMillan. Each member of the foursome made a check for a combined total of $63,000, and both Chris Johnston and McMillan finished in the top 10.

 

Hallman’s unfair advantage

While the southern portion of Lake Okeechobee was the main player, one little section was the deal for both Shin Fukae and Bradley Hallman. Often, they could be easily photographed at nearly the same time, one to the left and the other to the right. On stage, Fukae joked that it was Hallman’s “unfair advantage” in height that made the difference when flipping the tall cattails.

While Hallman is a whopping 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and Fukae is at least a little shorter, that likely wasn’t the only difference.

 

Pros made a difference off the water as well

At nearly every Walmart FLW Tour event the pros make an effort to reach out to the local community in some way. At Okeechobee, Chase Brooks, Bill McDonald and Charlie Evans took time on Wednesday before the start of the tournament to visit the Eastside Elementary School where they spoke to about 200 fifth- and sixth-grade students and also let the kids tour their boats.

On Saturday, while the top 20 pros were out on the water, Cody Kelley and the FLW Foundation hosted a unified fishing derby at Roland and Mary Ann Martin's Marina.

Kids up to age 16 could participate, and both the winner and runner-up earned a trophy for their accomplishment that was awarded on the FLW Tour weigh-in stage.

“I thought it went very well,” says Kelley. “We had 26 kids there, and we’re hoping it will be even bigger in South Carolina [at Lake Hartwell] and Arkansas [at Beaver Lake]. Everyone caught fish, and all the kids were smiling and laughing.”

The winner at Okeechobee was Olivia (6), and Brandley (7) finished runner-up.

To participate in youth tournaments at the upcoming Lake Hartwell and Beaver Lake FLW Tour stops (and elsewhere), simply keep an eye out for flyers that will be posted and distributed throughout the area, and call the number on them to RSVP.

 

The Rookie of the Year race is underway

It’s far too soon to declare a favorite in the Rookie of the Year race, but this year’s crop of rookies seems to be pretty legit. Of the 28 rookies on Tour this year, a whopping nine finished inside the top 50. With any luck, the eventual ROY won’t have it iced by the final tournament, and we’ll see multiple newcomers battling for the title and spots in the Forrest Wood Cup. The next Tour stop is Lake Hartwell, which is about as different from Lake Okeechobee as possible, so we could be headed for a shakeup.

Here are the top 10 in the standings so far:

Name                         Total Points    Okeechobee Finish

Chris Johnston           198                 3

Joshua Weaver          194                 7

Tommy Dickerson      179                 22

Shawn Gordon           166                 35

Cory Johnston            163                 38

Kyle Monti                  162                 39

Curtis Richardson      155                 46

Joe Holland                153                 48

Richie Eaves               152                 49

Braxton Setzer           140                 61

 

Stumbles at Okeechobee have changed the AOY race

Bradley Hallman currently leads the standings for Angler of the Year, but there’s a long way to go yet. One of the primary goals for any presumptive AOY is to survive Okeechobee and not knock himself out of the running at the start of the race. Since 2010, no angler who went on to win AOY has averaged worse than an 18th-place finish per tournament. Pulling the average up from a triple-digit finish at the opener is a very hard task to accomplish.

That in mind, we took a look at our original pundits’ picks to see if any of the predicted contenders can be swept off the board.

 

  • Anthony Gagliardi – picked by Jody White, FLW Associate Editor

Gags finished 140th at Okeechobee. He’s done worse there and still made the Cup, but the chance at AOY is probably over.

  • David Dudley – picked by Jesse Schultz, FLW Web Content Manager

Dudley finished 84th. He’s probably right on the bubble of being out of it, but not for sure.

  • Bryan Thrift – picked by Colin Moore, FLW Editor-in-Chief

Thrift banked the second-worst finish of his Tour career, a stunning 132nd. Unfortunately, he’s likely out of the AOY running.

  • Andy Morgan – picked by Chris Burgan, FLW Social Media and Communications Specialist

After a 40th at Okeechobee, he’s definitely in the running for yet another AOY title.  

  • Cody Meyer – picked by Dan O’Sullivan, AdvancedAngler.com Managing Editor

Meyer is in it after escaping Okeechobee in 58th.

  • Scott Martin – picked by Kyle Wood, FLW Senior Editor

Finishing 23rd has the reigning AOY off to an even better start than last season, when he finished 44th at the opener on Lake Toho.

  • Mark Rose – picked by Rob Newell, FLW Field Editor

The Walmart pro came out of Okeechobee in 28th and is certainly in position for a run at the crown.

  • Stetson Blaylock – picked by Curtis Niedermier, FLW Managing Editor

Blaylock finished 45th at Okeechobee and seems very capable of using that as a springboard to the top.

  • Wesley Strader – picked by Joe Opager, FLW Director of Public Relations

Strader will have to finish strong, but finishing 63rd at Okeechobee is not the end of his AOY ambitions.

 


 

Tags: tour-notes  jody-white  post-tournament  2016-02-04-lake-okeechobee 

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Top 10 Baits from the Potomac River

Late summer on the Potomac is often tough fishing, so the contenders in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event had to pull out all the stops. Fishing everything from grass to docks and rocks, the anglers mixed up all sorts of power and finesse presentations to get the job done in the second stop of the season presented by Lowrance. READ MORE »

Short Tops co-anglers

Short Tops co-anglers

Weighing a limit on day one and two bags of just four fish each over the next two days was enough to earn Jim Short the co-angler title in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River. Weighing 9 pounds, 15 ounces on the final day for a total of 29-9, Short took home a new Ranger Z175 and $5,350 in cash. READ MORE »

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

Reese Goes Wire-To-Wire

The final weigh-in of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac was one of the most intense of the season. In the end, with just enough to hold on, Marvin Reese weighed four for 8 pounds, 5 ounces to earn the win with a 38-15 total. For his win, which was his first on the boater side, Reese earned $38,026. Finishing second, Troy Morrow rocked up from tenth with 14-7, which was the biggest bag of the day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has offered chamber of commerce weather and some up and down fishing. The event, which is presented by Lowrance, has featured pretty tough fishing overall, and it seems like some of the top 10 may fall victim to it today. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Through two days of competition on the Potomac in the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event the weights haven’t been nearly what the river is capable of kicking out. That said, all the top pros have managed to put at least one good day together, and some have maintained really strong consistency, just at a lesser pace than would be the norm in June or some other time of the year. READ MORE »

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

Better Day Keeps Reese Out Front

A lovely morning gave way to a dismal afternoon on day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River, but despite the difference in conditions, Marvin Reese kept on plugging. Weighing 14 pounds, 12 ounces on day one, Reese added 15-14 on day two for a 30-10 total. With his day two bag, Reese has now weighed the two biggest bags of the event, which is presented by Lowrance, and he’s widened his lead over Justin Atkins to nearly 4 pounds. READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac has been quite a swing from day one. However, despite dramatically different weather, some of the top pros are still catching, and it looks like a tight race is setting up for the final day. READ MORE »

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Potomac River Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

As is so often the case, the first day of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits on the Potomac River wasn’t quite as bad as some predicted in practice. Though it was hot and humid as all get out, plenty of limits hit the scale and enough pros weighed 12 pounds or better to make things really interesting READ MORE »

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Reese Leads on the Potomac

Day one of the Potomac River event, which is the second stop of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits, featured plenty of limits, but getting quality bites was definitely an issue for some. In the lead after day one, Marvin Reese of Randallstown, Md., weighed 14 pounds, 12 ounces to get things underway. Behind Reese, Justin Atkins and Jason Kervin both weighed 14-5, and Robert Grike rounded out the 14-pound brigade with 14-4. Overall, just 11 pros cracked the 12-pound mark on day one of the tournament, which is presented by Lowrance, but 8- and 9-pound limits weren’t too hard to come by.  READ MORE »

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

Potomac River Midday Update – Day 1

As predicted, day one of the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits event on the Potomac River has been fairly tough. Though most folks have a fish or two, and many will undoubtedly fill limits by weigh-in, it certainly hasn’t been a catch-fest. 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 »

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 »

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Slow Down in Brush for More Success

Many times, hitting as many brush piles as possible is the key to success, with Bryan Thrift’s 2015 FLW Tour win on Lake Eufaula serving as a prime example of that strategy. However, with the fishing pretty tough on Lake Hamilton, both Wade Strelic and Joel Willert turned to more methodical approaches to generate bites. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Cup Top 10: Osborne Fished Finesse

Osborne spent the early visit graphing for brush in Hamilton’s lower end. In practice, it was more of the same, as Osborne spent only a couple of hours beating the bank. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Douglas Fished Brush and a Buzzbait

Cup Top 10: Douglas Fished Brush and a Buzzbait

Minnesota pro Josh Douglas is regarded as an electronics expert. But while he put his Lowrance units to the test at the FLW Cup on Lake Hamilton to find offshore brush piles, even Douglas couldn’t resist spending some time in the mornings hunting shallow bass. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Salzman Went Shallow to Deep

Cup Top 10: Salzman Went Shallow to Deep

Ryan Salzman earned an eighth-place finish at the FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton with a well-executed two-part strategy. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Webster Wormed Brush

Cup Top 10: Webster Wormed Brush

Among the FLW Cup pros that committed the entire tournament to one pattern was Joseph Webster, who weighed in a three-day total of 28 pounds, 2 ounces at Lake Hamilton. He finished seventh. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Felix Keyed on Clear Water

Cup Top 10: Felix Keyed on Clear Water

Eden Prairie, Minn., pro Austin Felix finished sixth in this year’s FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton, but he’s convinced that if the engineers operating Blakely Mountain Dam had released water on a more consistent schedule, the results might have been even better for him. Felix spent most of the tournament keying on the clear waters of Hamilton’s upper end. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Martin went up the River

Cup Top 10: Martin went up the River

Prior to practice, Scott Martin had no idea that the far upper end of Lake Hamilton, where the cold waters from the bottom of Lake Ouachita flow in through Blakely Mountain Dam, was such a drastically different mini-fishery within the reservoir. Then he started scouting it in practice and realized there was potential to win the tournament in the tailrace in areas where the water temperature was below 60 degrees. READ MORE »

Cup Top 10: Lawyer Mixes it Up for Fourth

Cup Top 10: Lawyer Mixes it Up for Fourth

Fourth-place pro Jeremy Lawyer was the highest finisher to utilize the shallow-early, brush-later strategy. Lawyer stacked together limits of 12 pounds, 1 ounce and 12-5 on the first two days to go into the final day in fourth place. He weighed in just 7 pounds on Sunday. READ MORE »