UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - California Delta

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

2018 Lake Okeechobee Preview

2018 Lake Okeechobee Preview
Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee

Clewiston, Fla.

January 25-28, 2018

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

 

About the fishery

When it comes to bass fishing, Lake Okeechobee is probably one of the most talked about and dreamt about fisheries on the planet. The Big O, as it is commonly called, covers more than 450,000 acres – making it roughly half the size of Rhode Island. The lake boasts nearly every type of bass-holding cover you can think of, from eelgrass to hyacinth to lily pads, and everything between. The lake is teeming with all sorts of gamefish and prey, which, paired with its rich and divergent habitat, makes it the fishing Mecca it is.

 

Last time

The last time the FLW Tour rolled into Clewiston was in 2016 when Bradley Hallman blew the event away in an impressive victory that saw him lead wire-to-wire. Hallman flipped the thickest reed clumps he could find in South Bay to catch 71 pounds, 2 ounces worth of bass.  Despite weighing only two fish on the final day, he still won by moe than 14 pounds. If not for a major cold snap, that event could have been lights out as far as catch records.

Last year, the Costa FLW Series kicked off on the Big O during roughly the same timeframe as the 2018 Tour event and fishing was solid. Taylor Ashely won the tournament on a swim jig fished around the East Wall to sack up 68-12 over the course of three days.  

 

What to expect this time

Expect the unexpected to a degree. The biggest issue with Florida in January is the chance for a major cold snap during the event. While cold fronts help trigger females to pull up to spawn, leading to giant bags of fish, it also puts the fish in hibernation mode for a few days until it blows through.

That aside, the lake is a little high from last year’s hurricanes and some of the grass has been moved around, but otherwise the lake has been fishing phenomenally. Pending any wild weather, catching numbers shouldn’t be an issue with plenty of limits in the 15- to 20-pound range.  

One thing to note is that the full moon will take place a few days after the event, but it could still play a role in moving some big females up from the main lake to prepare to spawn.

 

Baits and techniques

As far as baits go, it should be a mix of tried-and-true baits commonly seen in Florida. Anything from paddletail worms (such as a Zoom Speed Worm), swimbaits, swim jigs, spinnerbaits, flipping jigs or punching setups will all produce. Moving baits will likely play a major role because they can be used to cover water so quickly and effectively. For anglers poking around thicker cover – or if cooler weather prevails – flipping presentations might dominate.

 

3 critical factors

1. Weather – Cold weather or lack thereof can make or break a tournament this time of year in south Florida. In themselves, cold fronts aren’t any big deal, so long as they are over with a few days before the tournament starts. No cold temperatures at all translate into some of the best fishing of the year. Cold weather, however, translates into a tough bite and calls for patience on the part of anglers.

2. Fishing pressure – Okeechobee is a big pond, but it sure does fish small. Lots of the prime spawning areas with good hard bottom are located in just a few portions of Okeechobee and because of that everyone knows about them. Figuring out how to outsmart fellow anglers, or dialing in on something different, will be a huge key to success.

3. Water color – This kind of echoes the weather factor: Being able to avoid wind-blown areas to stay in cleaner water is a necessity. Because much of the hard line of reeds and cattails has been reduced or removed due to hurricanes, it leaves more water susceptible to wind exposure. The result is that the bottom gets stirred and the water gets dirty. Planning in practice to find areas with clean water, or that won’t be as affected by different wind directions and intensity, can make the difference in being able to fish on Sunday or go home early.

 

Fantasy Fishing picks

Okeechobee can be a tough one when it comes to picking the anglers likely to do well. Local knowledge or experience helps to a degree, but the Big O is notorious for giving out-of-staters a crack at stardom. Choosing a blend of veterans and newcomers can be a solid approach. Scott Martin, the McMillans, Koby Kreiger or other Floridians are smart picks. Don’t count out Chad Morgenthaler, the Johnstons, Michael Neal or Bryan Schmitt for non-Florida guys.

 

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2018-01-25-lake-okeechobee 

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 »

Review: Storm 360GT Largo Shad

Review: Storm 360GT Largo Shad

While the 360GT Searchbait made some noise in the bass world, the Coastal line offers a swimbait that looks more than juicy for bass of all shapes and sizes. Enter the Largo Shad. After hearing some rumors about how good the swimbait is – and even some comparisons to Keitechs – I got my hands on a few packs and took them for a test ride. READ MORE »

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

FLW Cup Schedule of Events

The FLW Cup goes down August 9-11 on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. As the crowning event of the FLW Tour season, there’s naturally a lot that goes with it, from takeoffs, the FLW Expo, a Trace Adkins concert and of course the weigh-ins at the Bank OZK Arena. Below you’ll find everything you’ll need to follow or attend the Cup, from the times to each event and seminar to each giveaway going on. Keep in mind, everything is free to attend and all times are Central. READ MORE »

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

Pre-Practice Report from Hamilton

For some, preparation has been in the form of map study and online research, while others have made the trek to Lake Hamilton to get eyes on the playing field, which went off limits July 22. READ MORE »

The FLW Cup Playing Field

The FLW Cup Playing Field

It’s been 14 seasons since the FLW Cup has been held at Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs, Ark. In the years since, FLW fans have likely developed some familiarity with nearby Lake Ouachita, which has been a frequent destination for the Cup and, in fact, hosted last year’s championship event. Hamilton is less-known because it hasn’t gotten the nod to host the finale since July 2005, when George Cochran won his third bass-fishing world championship . READ MORE »

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

McCaghren Ready for Hamilton

Billy McCaghren spends a lot of his free time coaching 8- to 10-year-old boys on how to swing and catch; but when the FLW Cup visits Hot Springs August 9-11, the Arkansas pro is hopeful that some of his young baseball players will be able to swing by and see the Lake Hamilton bass he plans on catching. READ MORE »

Summertime on Champlain

Summertime on Champlain

For three years running now, the Costa FLW Series Northern Division presented by Gajo Baits has kicked off on Lake Champlain. The tournament, which is presented by Polaris, should offer great fishing like usual, but it’s going to be far different than the last two FLW Series tilts on the big Northern lake. READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Thunder Cricket

Review: Strike King Thunder Cricket

Ever since Z-Man released the ChatterBait anglers haven’t really had the need to broaden their vibrating jig horizon – and not for lack of options, but simply because the ChatterBait is so good that you don’t really need anything else. With the launch of the Z-Man ChatterBait Jack Hammer a few years ago and the instant buzz surrounding it, the bar was set high for any other vibrating jigs entering the market. READ MORE »

Dudley Wins Historic 4th AOY

Dudley Wins Historic 4th AOY

Taking to the second to last day of the 2019 FLW Tour season, David Dudley finally did it again, triumphing over John Cox to win a historic fourth FLW Tour Angler of the Year title. Winning his first AOY in 2008, and then going back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, Dudley is now the only pro with four titles to their credit, surpassing both Clark Wendlandt and Andy Morgan. READ MORE »