Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage

Okeechobee Day 1 Coverage
Shane LeHew

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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!



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 

Au Rallies for Clear Lake Win

Au Rallies for Clear Lake Win

Steadily climbing the leaderboard all week, Tai Au dropped 26 pounds, 4 ounces today – the biggest bag of the week – to jump from fourth and claim his second title of the 2020 Toyota Series Western Division season. With 63-3 overall, Au wraps a phenomenal season where he won on Havasu back in March, placed 10th on the California Delta in August and closed the season with yet another win this week on Clear Lake. In winning, Au also wrapped the Strike King Angler of the Year title for the Western Division for the first time in his career. READ MORE »

White Rolling at Clear Lake

White Rolling at Clear Lake

Fishing was still good on day two of the Toyota Series Western Division finale at Clear Lake, though there were notably less 20-pound bags brought to the scale. Still, day-one leader Tom White managed 19 pounds, 5 ounces today to back up his 24-12 weight from Thursday and will carry a 5-10 lead heading into Saturday’s final round. This would be White’s first FLW win if he can fend off the nine other hungry pros behind him. READ MORE »

White Drops 24-12 at Clear Lake

White Drops 24-12 at Clear Lake

Tom White of Costa Mesa, Calif., fished the first two events of the Toyota Series Western Division season as a co-angler where he found decent success. Now, in the final event of the season White stepped up to the boater side and took the lead on Clear Lake after day one with a 24-pound, 12-ounce limit. The former Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI angler will hold close to a 5-pound lead over Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour pro Jared Lintner heading into day two. While 4 pounds would be a decent lead on a lot of fisheries, this is Clear Lake, and anything can happen tomorrow. READ MORE »

Big Bags on Deck at Clear Lake

Big Bags on Deck at Clear Lake

The Toyota Series Western Division wraps its season this week on famed Clear Lake in California. The lake is frequently noted as one of the best bass fisheries in the country and Clear Lake is shaping up to kick out plenty of bass this week. READ MORE »

Whitehead Tops on Pickwick

Whitehead Tops on Pickwick

Boater Christopher Whitehead of Tupelo, Miss., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 33 pounds, 1 ounce to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mississippi Division Super-Tournament at Pickwick Lake. For his victory, Whitehead earned $5,942. READ MORE »

Tramel Rolls at Old Hickory

Tramel Rolls at Old Hickory

Boater Josh Tramel of Smithville, Tenn., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 34 pounds, 5 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Music City Division Super-Tournament at Old Hickory Lake. Tramel earned a total of $5,540 for his victory.  READ MORE »

Topwater Gives Trim the W

Topwater Gives Trim the W

Boater Nick Trim of Galesville, Wis., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 34 pounds, 9 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Great Lakes Division Super-Tournament at the Mississippi River. For his victory, Trim earned $6,690. READ MORE »

Langford Wins on Smith Mountain

Langford Wins on Smith Mountain

Boater Todd Langford of Great Falls, Va., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale weighing 33 pounds, 4 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division Super-Tournament at Smith Mountain Lake. For his victory, Langford earned $5,065. READ MORE »

Rockefeller Frogs on Clarks Hill

Rockefeller Frogs on Clarks Hill

Boater Joshua Rockefeller of Harlem, Ga., brought a two-day total of nine bass to the scale weighing 21 pounds even to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine South Carolina Division Super-Tournament at Clarks Hill Lake. For his victory, Rockefeller earned $4,668. READ MORE »

Strong Day One Carries Sifers

Strong Day One Carries Sifers

Boater Jeramiah Sifers of Sellersburg, Ind., brought a two-day total of 10 bass to the scale this weekend weighing 22 pounds, 14 ounces to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Hoosier Division Super-Tournament at the Rough River. Sifers earned a total of $6,917 for his victory. READ MORE »

Lieblong Again at Dardanelle

Lieblong Again at Dardanelle

Jason Lieblong is no stranger to Toyota Series titles on Lake Dardanelle. He claimed his first back in August of 2015 and five years later thanks to a final-day bag worth 15 pounds, 15 ounces (the biggest of the event) Lieblong added his second Series trophy to the mantle. The Conway, Ark., pro finished the event with 40-9 overall, moving up the leaderboard every day of the tournament. For winning the Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel, Lieblong took home over $70,000 thanks largely to the FLW PHOENIX BONUS, which earned him and extra $35,000. READ MORE »

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Dobson Grabs Second Toyota Series W

Weighing 18 pounds and 9 ounces on day three for a 59-3 total, Scott Dobson moved from second to first to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River. The win is Dobson’s second in Toyota Series competition and his eighth overall with FLW. For the win, Dobson takes home $27,534 and further burnishes his record as one of the best smallmouth anglers on the planet.   READ MORE »

Bennett Takes Dardanelle Lead

Bennett Takes Dardanelle Lead

Backing up his day-one weight of 13 pounds, 6 ounces, Joe Bennett brought 13-14 to the scale to take the lead at Lake Dardanelle in the Toyota Series Plains Division opener presented by Fish-Intel. Bennett will carry 1-1 lead into Saturday’s final round over Kevin Riney as he looks to grab his first victory with FLW. READ MORE »

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Burton Edges Ahead at the Detroit River

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River saw the pros stuck in the river itself again due to the wind. Moving up from fourth place into the lead, Wilson Burton weighed 20 pounds, 4 ounces to get up to a 40-11 total. With the only 20-pound bag of the day, Burton slipped past Scott Dobson by just one ounce, who weighed 19-12 and sits behind him with a 40-10 total. READ MORE »

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

Montevallo Takes College Open Title

As tough as Kentucky Lake was fishing this week in the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open, Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo leading after day one and finishing the job on Thursday resulted in one of the more impressive wins you’ll see. After weighing in a day-one best 12-13, the duo backed it up with another 12-7 on day two for the victory, displaying the kind of consistency it takes to grind it out in tough fishing conditions. For their efforts, Morris and Pfundt were awarded a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-hp Mercury outboard. READ MORE »

King Tops Day 1 at Dardanelle 

King Tops Day 1 at Dardanelle 

Zach King of Clarksville, Ark., used a Heddon Zara Spook to catch 14 pounds, 11 ounces claim the day one lead in the Toyota Series Plains Division event on Lake Dardanelle presented by Fish-Intel. King will take a 6-ounce lead over Matt Wood of Jessieville, Ark., into day two.  READ MORE »

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Dardanelle Midday Update – Day 1

Thursday’s opening round of the Toyota Series Plains Division opener at Lake Dardanelle followed the script many anglers predicted. Despite many favorable conditions at the beginning of a peak fishing season, muddy water and bright sunshine made fishing difficult across the 34,000-acre Arkansas River impoundment. READ MORE »

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Stokes Leads on the Detroit River

Strong winds kept the pros in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River pinned to the actual river, but the fishing was still very good. Plenty of anglers brought in 17 pounds or more, and the leaders are all concentrated around the 20-pound mark. In first, Troy Stokes of Brownstown, Mich., weighed 21 pounds, 4 ounces to kick things off. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 1

Right off the bat, the anglers in the field at the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River were thrown a curveball by the weather. This morning, with increasing wind forecasts, tournament officials made Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair off-limits, thereby penning up the 87 pros and co-anglers on the American side of the Detroit River. READ MORE »

Montevallo Leads College Open 

Montevallo Leads College Open 

As expected, weights were down across the board on day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open on Kentucky Lake. With high water during what’s typically a tough transitional time of year, it took just 12 pounds, 13 ounces for Grayson Morris and Jacob Pfundt of the University of Montevallo to grab the lead. READ MORE »