UPCOMING EVENT: Costa FLW Series - 2019 - Santee Cooper

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage

Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage
Shane LeHew

Quick Links

Complete details

Tournament flier

FLW Live schedule 

Practice galleries with John Cox, Braxton Setzer and Bryan Schmitt 

 

2:00 Weigh-in approaches

With weigh-in starting at 3 p.m. ET, our OTW crew is beginning to filter back to home base, so our updates will be slim to none for the next hour. That said, you’ll want to park it at flwfishing.com come 3 p.m. or come on down to the marina to watch in-person. Weigh-in should be fun, and there will definitely be a lot of fish to go ‘round.

 

1:40 Meyer alert!

Cody Meyer has fished from South Bay to the north end today and amassed a 15-pound limit for his efforts. He typically has a tough time with Okeechobee, so he’s got to be pleased with how the day has gone thus far.

 

1:33 Hallman is winding

Like nearly everyone down south, 2016 Okeechobee champ Bradley Hallman is chunking and winding in the hay grass and has a small limit in the boat. He says he needs to go flip for a big bite, but that he doesn’t have the confidence to go do it. That’s not a great position to be in.

 

1:25 Sprague is upgrading

Jeff Sprague just made a solid upgrade and has crossed into the low teens now. One big bite could have him sitting really well. The Texan has threatened at an Angler of the Year title before, and he’s typically very good in Florida – a good start in these first two events could put him right back in the hunt.

 

1:18 Slow for Cox too

Shockingly, John Cox has just two in the boat so far. No word on the size involved, but he’ll need to get things going soon.

Also, we think Luke Dunkin has 11 pounds and just made a cull, but the wind is ripping pretty good.

 

1:11 No go for Big Mac

Brandon McMillan has won a ton of money on Okeechobee, but today isn’t going his way. It’s getting late fast and he’s only got about 9 pounds in the boat and just lost a keeper that would have helped.

 

12:54 McCaghren, Peter T with limits

Billy McCaghren and Peter T have both amassed 10-pound limits now.

Also of note, we’ve got a bead on John Cox and Scott Martin, so you can expect some info from the favorites in a bit.

 

12:45 There’s some pressure

There are no less than 33 boats visible from where Brandon Mosley is fishing. Though the water looks gloriously clean, it’s getting hammered. Of course, if you get a little something figured and the fish are there it might not matter. Speaking of which, Mosley just culled again with a decent keeper.

 

12:40 Mosley strikes!

It seems the slackening wind and warming sun have helped the bite. Brandon Mosley just popped a 6-pounder and says he’s got about 15 pounds in the livewell. Fingers crossed for more big fish updates shortly.

 

12:35 A good day for Surman

Okeechobee veteran Mike Surman is doing well up north. Flipping cattails, he’s got a 4-pounder and four 2-pounders in the boat to get his season started.

 

12:30 More limits

Evan Barnes and Cody Kelley each have small, headshaking limits in the boat. Lots of little ones is the story of the day for much of the field so far.

 

12:20 Myers with 15 too

Tour newcomer Britt Myers is working the same general area up north as Greenblatt and has put 15-pounds in the boat as well. Sounds like there are some good fish where they’re at.

12:10 LeHew update

Shane LeHew is sitting on five keepers now. He just landed a 3-pounder, but he says he’s lost two others like it. He likely can’t afford to dump too many fish like that.

 

11:57 Greenblatt with 15+

Matt Greenblatt is a current leader. It’s nearly noon, and he’s fishing up north and has about 15 pounds in the boat. It’s likely that the leader will have well over 20 pounds today, but the Florida pro is on the right track.

 

11:40 Horton has a good one

Jamie Horton is as consistent as they come, and he’s working on another decent limit today. So far he’s got over 11 pounds and that includes a 4+ kicker.

 

11:33 Dobson with a limit

Jeff Dobson has a limit now and he’s fishing for a bedding bass that he shook off without seeing in practice. There were a fair number of bedding bass reported in practice, but not too many big ones seen (or talked about anyhow). He just missed it and reported it as a 4+, but there's still a chance he can get her to bite again. 

 

11:10 Cory J in double digits

Cory Johnston is the first member of Team Canada to be found and he’s doing alright. The Johnstons have spent a lot of time on the Big O in the past, and he’s got about 12 pounds in the livewell midway through the day.

 

11:00 Lowitzki with a big one, other notes

Rich Lowitzki is lacking numbers, but he’s got a big one in the ‘well to start. With two keepers and a 6-pounder he’s got over 8 pounds as is.

Bill Day has a limit now for 7 pounds as well, JTodd Tucker is working with a small limit, Todd Hollowell has three keepers and Matt Stefan has a pair of little skippers.

 

 

10:58 Dudley adds a good one, Yelas into double digits

David Dudley just popped a 3-pounder to push his limit up past the 10-pound mark. Jay Yelas has also crossed into double digits as well, culling up incrementally down south.

 

10:40 Martin, Dove and Cortiana have limits 

Scott Martin, Kyle Cortiana and Kurt Dove all have limits in the boat. Martin has a 3-pounder to go with his dinks, but nobody else has anything too special – just a collection of keepers to start the day.

 

10:33 Mansfield with four

Rookie pro Greg Mansfield is one shy of a limit now (nothing big) and he’s feeling alright. He says his area will be better once the sun warms it in the afternoon (though blustery it’s getting quite nice out) and that could certainly bode well for him.

 

10:25 Bryan with a biggun

Keith Bryan just check in with a 7-pounder to go with a small limit. He’s got over 12 pounds and is one more fish away from a dynamite day.

Jeff Sprague and Bryan Thrift have also finished limits, but they’re both sitting on a squad of dinks and not much more.

 

10:16 Ponds one shy of a limit

Fishing up north, Pete Ponds has four small ones in the box so far. The fishing should only get better as the day goes on, so he’s looking pretty good early.

 

10:10 LeHew and Wendlandt on the board

Shane LeHew has three small ones so far and co-angler Joan Arnal Font has a limit behind him. Clark Wendlandt is also on the board with one small one to start his day.

 

10:00 Dudley is culling

David Dudley is culling up from a starter limit now. He hates fishing in Florida because big bites are so key and they’re often dependent on fortune, but with a bit over 8 pounds in the boat he’s now hunting exactly that.

 

9:55 A limit for Wiley, Redington with three

Still sporting one of the best mustaches on Tour, Scott Wiley has a small limit already. Chunking a vibrating jig up north, Tom Redington has three in the boat early on.

 

9:52 Boyd has a start

Allen Boyd has three in the box to start his season off. He doesn’t have anything big yet, but game-changing fish are always just a cast away on the Big O.

 

9:40 Arey limits, some technique and condition updates

Matt Arey has filled out a small limit now, he’s fishing brush, but winding a bait through it.

So far it seems to be a pretty standard mix of Okeechobee techniques, with some winding and some flipping. North of Harney Pond the water conditions are not pretty, but down in South Bay the clarity is actually quite good despite the strong wind.

 

9:20 Another for Arey

Matt Arey may not have size going, but he just plunked a second keeper in the boat (not a true squeaker but less than 2 pounds) and he seems primed to catch a few more. 

 

9:12 Arey on the board

Matt Arey has a contentious relationship with Lake Okeechobee, but he’s got a keeper in the box to start his day. He’s Poled down and flipping brush now.

 

9:05 Davis is cooking, other updates

Alex Davis is doing alright. He just culled again, this time upping his weight by about a pound. From the sounds of it, he’s up into double digits for sure.

Otherwise, Bill Day has a pair of skippers in the box, Austin Felix and Miles Howe each have one and Dave Larson is still hunting his first.

 

8:50 Gross has one, Davis has a limit, McCombs has a good one

Fishing up north, Buddy Gross has started off with a keeper. Gross has been pretty hot on Okeechobee of late, so he’s one to watch for sure. Down south, Alex Davis has a limit with one decent one and just made a small cull.

In the good fish department, Johnny McCombs has a 3-pounder in the livewell.

 

8:44 Yelas update

Yelas doesn’t have any size going, but our last report represented his second keeper and he just landed a third small one for the livewell.

 

8:39 Yelas with a keeper

We’ll get some more updates from up north in good time, but for now there are folks catching down south. It’s windy and hard to get exact estimates, but Jay Yelas just put a keeper in the boat to get his morning going.

 

8:31 Meyer is up to his usual tricks

Fishing south of Clewiston, Cody Meyer has already boxed up a limit for about 8 pounds. That’s pretty lightning work, and now he’s got ages to catch a few big ones.

 

8:28 Jimmy Houston breaks the ice

The first reported fish of the 2018 FLW Tour season belongs to the one and only Jimmy Houston. It’s not huge, but it’s a decent keeper and we’re on the board!

 

8:20 It’s busy up north

With the wind out of the north, the upper end of Okeechobee figures to be busy today. All the boats are out now, and so far a bunch of pros have flooded up toward Moonshine Bay and the Monkey Box. Hopefully we’ll have some fish to report in short order.

 

7:30 Takeoff time

Starting the year at Lake Okeechobee is almost a rite of passage for FLW Tour anglers and each season the big Florida bowl offers some new challenge for veterans and aspiring rookies alike. The 2018 FLW Tour opener presented by Evinrude finds the lake in a bit of a mess, but the big bass are still there and there are plenty of anglers eager to chase them down.

Due to Hurricane Irma, the Big O has suffered more drastic changes than usual this year, which has caused a lot of bellyaching throughout practice. The vegetation layout in Okeechobee changes year to year, but this year the change was quite drastic. Bryan Schmitt estimates that the north end of the lake has only a twentieth of the offshore hydrilla it used to, and that’s far from the only change. Because of the movement and destruction of the mats of cattails and grass, entirely new places are open water and some old places are covered up or inaccessible.

The biggest effect of the lack of grass isn’t on the bass, but rather on the water clarity.

“Probably the worst thing that happened was that a lot of the hard line [the outer rim of reeds near the main lake] was wiped out,” says JT Kenney, who used to guide out of Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and Resort. “There are areas where the edge of the grass is now 100 to 400 yards closer to the bank than it used to be. The bad part about that is it allows dirty water to spread around more than it used to because the hard line would act as a barrier to keep it out.

“One thing about Okeechobee versus other Florida lakes is that the wind is such a big factor,” Kenney explains. “You don’t have to worry about it really anywhere else in Florida. This week, with a north wind, it’ll obviously dirty the south end up. But what people don’t think about is as the water is pushed out of the north end by the wind it may lower the water level a foot and a half. Well, when the wind dies, that water has to come back, and when it does it’ll dirty the north end up, too.”

Though much warmer than the weather was for the Costa FLW Series event a few weeks ago, the wind looks to be a factor this week. Thursday is forecast to feature a strong north wind, and that wind is supposed to keep blowing hard and shift to the east and then the south as the tournament progresses. That’s not good news for the water clarity, especially considering the state the lake is already in.

There are certainly pockets of clear water to be found, but it remains to be seen how clear they will stay. Though we can’t know for sure where anglers will group up, it seems likely that a lot of them will cluster into the clear water areas, and that means the fish will need to hold up a bunch of high-caliber pressure. Catching fish in the dingier or muddy water isn’t impossible, but it’s definitely unusual. That said, with the water how it is, someone may have to do just that.

There’s also a good chance that the canals around the rim of the lake play more than usual – they did during the Costa FLW Series opener, and they might again if the lake doesn’t fish ‘normal.’ Most tournaments on Okeechobee feature a mix of anglers flipping plastics and winding plastics and skirted baits. You can bet that the typical staples will produce, but there’s an outside shot at some more unknown techniques making money this week. From cranking rock in the rim ditch or offshore to flipping brush or going back into a canal, there’s a chance for some fun times even if the fishing isn’t firing like it can.

It was brisk and blustery at takeoff this morning, and as a result running across the center of the lake is off-limits, but otherwise the conditions don't seem too bad. Tour anglers have faced down much colder days on Okeechobee and caught bass, and the wind is from the north as forecasted, so anglers could at least prepare a little in practice. Now it's time to finally go fishing!

 

Conditions

Temperature at takeoff: 55 degrees

Forecast high: 69 degrees

Sky: clear

Precipitation: 0 percent chance of rain

Wind: northeast at 10 to 17 mph

 

Tournament Details

Folgers Morning Takeoff: 7:30 a.m. ET at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and Resort, 920 East Del Monte Ave., Clewiston, Fla.

Weigh-in: Thursday and Friday at 3 p.m. ET at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina

FLW Expo: 12 to 4 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina

FLW Live: Saturday and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. ET to 12:30 p.m. ET

Complete details

Tags: headline-story  2018-01-25-lake-okeechobee 

Lanier Makes Right Calls on Sinclair

Lanier Makes Right Calls on Sinclair

Justin Lanier of Macon, Georgia, caught five bass Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce, to win the 2019 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Bulldog division tournament on Lake Sinclair. Lanier earned $4,399 for his victory. READ MORE »

Joyce Claims Kerr Title

Joyce Claims Kerr Title

Keith Joyce of Apex, North Carolina, caught five bass Saturday weighing 19 pounds, 5 ounces, to win the 2019 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Piedmont division tournament on Kerr Lake. Joyce earned $7,254 for his victory. READ MORE »

Kicker Makes the Difference for Clark

Kicker Makes the Difference for Clark

Randall Clark of Little Rock, Arkansas, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 15 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Arkie division event on Lake Hamilton presented by Geared. Clark earned $3,901 for his efforts. READ MORE »

Smith Flips Senko on Toledo Bend

Smith Flips Senko on Toledo Bend

Ken Smith of Dallas, Texas, caught five bass Saturday weighing 21 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the 2019 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Cowboy division tournament on Toledo Bend. Smith earned $8,303 for his victory. READ MORE »

It’s all Upshaw

It’s all Upshaw

As pretty much everyone figured, the final day of the FLW Tour event presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake was a nail-biter. Coming down to the wire, a final-hour cull from Andrew Upshaw was enough to hold off Grae Buck and earn the Tulsa, Okla., pro his first Tour win. Weighing 15 pounds, 6 ounces, Upshaw totaled up 67-10 to earn the $100,000 payday and his first trophy after eight years on Tour. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Cherokee Lake

FLW Live Leaderboard - Cherokee Lake

FLW Marshals and media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for stop No. 5 of the 2019 FLW Tour at Cherokee Lake. READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 4 Coverage

Cherokee Lake Day 4 Coverage

Andrew Upshaw has a chance to go wire-to-wire for the win at the FLW Tour event presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake. The Oklahoma pro has led for three days thanks to his smallmouth pattern. The rest of the pros are catching mixed bags of largemouths and smallmouths. Many of the fish are spawning. READ MORE »

Upshaw Almost There

Upshaw Almost There

Andrew Upshaw is one day away from going wire-to-wire to secure his first-ever FLW Tour victory, and as long as the pressure and the nine pros behind him don’t knock him off course, the Tulsa, Okla., pro has a game plan to make it happen. READ MORE »

Cherokee Day 3 Coverage

Cherokee Day 3 Coverage

It's a catch-fest at Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee, as the top 30 pros enter the weekend with hopes of catching Andrew Upshaw, who has led for two days. Largemouths and smallmouths are both spawning, and they are eager to bite. READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 2 Coverage

Cherokee Lake Day 2 Coverage

Day one of the FLW Tour event at Cherokee Lake was a doozy. Pros hammered impressive numbers of largemouth and smallmouth bass on what was a perfect spring day in east Tennessee. Now, it's cut day, and everyone is hoping to make it into the top 30 and fish again on the weekend. READ MORE »

Upshaw Leads Packed Top 10

Upshaw Leads Packed Top 10

Day one of the FLW Tour presented by Lowrance on Cherokee Lake was a sure enough catchfest. Leading the way, Andrew Upshaw of Tulsa, Okla., weighed 18 pounds, 6 ounces to take the lead, but 13 other pros also weighed more than 16 pounds. READ MORE »

Cherokee Lake Day 1 Coverage

Cherokee Lake Day 1 Coverage

The FLW Tour visits Cherokee Lake in east Tennessee at the perfect time for a spring showdown. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are ready to spawn, and practice reports suggest a lot of fish will be caught. READ MORE »

Gregory, Hudson and Pugh Tie on Smith

Gregory, Hudson and Pugh Tie on Smith

David Hudson of Jasper, and Greg Pugh and Dexton Gregory, both of Cullman, Alabama, ended up in a three-way tie for the win at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division tournament on Lewis Smith Lake after each bringing five bass weighing 15 pounds, 1 ounce, to the scale. After contingency awards, Hudson earned $3,001, with Gregory taking home $2,801 and Pugh $2,501. READ MORE »

DeGrandcourt Cranks to Kerr Title

DeGrandcourt Cranks to Kerr Title

R.J. DeGrandcourt of Clarksville, Virginia, caught five bass Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Shenandoah Division opener on Kerr Lake. For his catch, DeGrandcourt took home $2,585. READ MORE »

Benfield Looks at 'Em on Hartwell

Benfield Looks at 'Em on Hartwell

Brad Benfield of Cornelia, Georgia, won the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Savannah River Division tournament on Lake Hartwell with a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces. For his day on the water, Benfield took home $2,977. READ MORE »

Sumter Flips Shallow on Arkansas River

Sumter Flips Shallow on Arkansas River

Brit Sumter of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, brought five bass to the weigh-in stage Saturday totaling 18 pounds, 1 ounce, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Okie Division opener on the Arkansas River. For his victory, Sumter pocketed $4,315. READ MORE »

Flat Leads Suratt to Pickwick Title

Flat Leads Suratt to Pickwick Title

Boater Trent Suratt of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, brought five bass to the weigh-in stage Saturday totaling 20 pounds, 3 ounces, to earn the win and $4,394 at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mississippi Division tournament on Pickwick Lake. READ MORE »

Vinita Sacks 22-11 on Texoma

Vinita Sacks 22-11 on Texoma

The Vinita High School duo of Tyler Lake and Jessie Woodward, both of Vinita, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 22 pounds, 11 ounces to win the 2019 Bass Pro Shops FLW High School Fishing Lake Texoma Open. READ MORE »

Morris Closes it Out on Barkley

Morris Closes it Out on Barkley

With just two fish in the bag, Jake Morris was noticeably nervous at the final weigh-in of the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake. Fortunately for him, he didn’t need either one of them, as Morris caught enough the first two days to top the next closest finisher. Catching 5-12 today punctuated the wire-to-wire victory for Morris, who brought in 44-2 in three days. He caught almost every fish on a spinnerbait from one key stretch on Lake Barkley. READ MORE »

Morris Still the Man on Top

Morris Still the Man on Top

Jake Morris of McKee, Ky., didn’t have the outing he wanted today. The tournament leader at the Costa FLW Series Central Division event presented by Lowrance on Kentucky Lake weighed in just three fish for 13 pounds, 12 ounces. Thankfully, his impressive 24-plus-pound day-one performance helped him hold off local ace Cole Floyd, who moved up a few spots to second. Morris leads Floyd by 7-6 going into the final round.  READ MORE »