UPCOMING EVENT: T-H Marine BFL - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee
Okeechobee

Florida is a familiar place for FLW competition, and Lake Okeechobee is probably the best-known fishery the Sunshine State has to offer. So there shouldn’t be many surprises when the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division kicks off the season Jan. 31–Feb. 2 on the Big O with an event presented by Power-Pole.

That said, Okeechobee can be one of the most magical places to wet a line, but it can also be one of the most frustrating. It’s subject to the typical ups and downs of Florida fishing in early spring. Currently the lake is lower than usual for the time of year, water clarity less is than ideal and a chain of cold fronts has riddled the region. All of those factors are setting up for a tough tournament.

Complete details 

 

What to expect

Of course, you can’t mention bass fishing on Okeechobee without bringing up the McMillan name. The McMillan family has produced some of south Florida’s most successful tournament anglers. Among them is FLW Tour pro and Okeechobee hammer Jared McMillan, who gave us a rundown of the current situation on his home pond.

“The lake is low, especially for this time of the year,” says McMillan. “It’s basically summertime-level water right now. It’s not really anything to worry about; it means you may have to idle out to the outside grass edge before you take off. The well-known areas of the lake might still play, but they are shallower than normal. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw some new places of the lake play.

“It’s also been cold down here,” he adds. “We’ve had multiple colds fronts one after another with no real warming trend in between. But because of that I don’t think there has been a big-time wave of fish that has come up to spawn. I know fish have been spawning, and some people may catch them in the Costa, but the major wave is still waiting for the next big warm-up. The water temperature the other day was around 54 to 56 degrees. It is so close to being good with some warm temps.”

Low water could make it tough to navigate certain sections of the lake, but it also helps to congregate the fish, making them potentially easier to find since they don’t have all that extra flooded vegetation to roam around in.

The other factor to consider in Florida – and especially on Okeechobee – is finding clean water. That might be a tough task this week, according to McMillan. He believes that nearly 90 percent of the lake can be classified as dirty at the moment.

“I really think it’ll be a toss-up how the Costa goes,” the Florida pro adds. “If it warms up it could be really good. If it stays cool like it’s been it could be tough. It just depends on the weather. Three weeks ago it took almost 30 pounds to win a team tournament [on Okeechobee], and that was during a warming trend. So, the fish are still around. We just need the right weather to get them to go.”

 

Patterns to watch

There aren’t many secrets when it comes to catching bass on Okeechobee. McMillan agrees and believes the usual suspects, as far as patterns, will be in play.

“It should be a junk-fishing tournament,” he says. “Figuring out how to catch them in cold, dirty water is tough. You could catch one flipping a mat then two or three on a ChatterBait and a few more on a Senko. You’re going to have to keep moving around to different areas to get bit I think.”

While South Bay, the Monkey Box, Harney Pond and the North Shore are staples of any tournament on Okeechobee, McMillan says that the entire lake should factor into this tournament.

“Avoiding crowds is a big deal on Okeechobee, and it’ll be even more important for this event,” he says. “That’s why I think you’ll see the rim ditch and main lake outside of the grass line be factors. It’s just a different Okeechobee right now.”

 

BFL reflection

Last weekend the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League season got rolling with two events, including the Gator Division opener on Okeechobee. Last weekend’s results might not be the best indicator of how the Costa FLW Series derby will shake out due to the weather changing from cold and rainy to a warming trend, but it provides the most recent gauge of the fishery.

David Anderson of Fort Meyers, Fla., took home top honors with a limit weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce, which isn’t a terrible bag considering the conditions. However, the weights fell fast from there, with 12-11 being good enough for 10th place.

“I think the winning weight was about right for the time of year and the weather we’ve had,” McMillan adds. “The thing that shocked me was that it took 12 pounds to get in the top 10. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Again, some of that is just how the stars have aligned so far. Plus, January is just a tough time to be on the lake anyway. It can be really good, or really tough. Weather is usually the deciding factor in that.”

Anderson caught his winning fish by blind-casting and dragging through bedding and staging areas on the outside edge and within the middle of grass beds.

Read more here

 

Details

The Lake Okeechobee Costa FLW Series tournament runs Jan. 31–Feb. 2. Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort and the Hendry County Tourism Development Council are hosting the event. Takeoffs and weigh-ins will be held at Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort, with weigh-ins streamed live at FLWFishing.com at 3 p.m. ET each day.

Complete details 

Tags: kyle-wood  pre-tournament  2019-01-31-lake-okeechobee 

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with South Carolina pro Bradford Beavers.  READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

Check-in Time: Jeremy Lawyer

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Missouri pro Jeremy Lawyer.  READ MORE »

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Cumberland Practice with Bryan New

Bryan New has steadily been making a case to be considered one of the brightest rising stars of the sport. Five top 10s in T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) and Costa FLW Series events this year proves it, as does his inclusion in the Costa FLW Series Championship field. New gives an inside look at how he’s been tackling the puzzle that is the FLW Series Championship on what might prove to be an unusually stingy fishery. READ MORE »

Olson Scouts Cumberland

Olson Scouts Cumberland

At just 19 years old, Lane Olson is fishing in the Costa FLW Series Championship. Were he from Alabama or Texas or any number of other southern states known for their bass fishing, that wouldn’t be too surprising. But Olson is schlepping all the way to Kentucky from Oregon, where he finished second in the Western Division Angler of the Year standings, missing out on the top spot by just one point. READ MORE »

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Fitzpatrick All the Way on Grand

Roger Fitzpatrick has had quite a fall fishing season. He won the BFL Super Tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in September, then qualified for the All-American by winning the BFL Regional on Grand Lake in October. READ MORE »

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Roaming Cumberland with Davidson

Davidson, a West Virginia native, qualified for the Costa FLW Series Championship out of the Northern Division and has fished the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Mountain Division quite a bit. He’s spent a lot of time on Cumberland and nearby Dale Hollow in the cooler months. As such, he’s one of a handful that pundits are definitely keeping an eye on heading into the championship, and he was kind enough to let me tag along for part of the second practice day on the Kentucky reservoir. READ MORE »

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

2019 Costa FLW Series Championship Roster

The 2019 Costa FLW Series Championship brings together anglers from all over the world to compete for a top prize worth $100,000 on the pro side and $35,000 on the co-angler side. Qualifying from the T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American, the International Division and five standard FLW Series divisions, a total of 193 pros and 193 co-anglers will descend on Lake Cumberland for a fall showdown to wrap up the fishing season. READ MORE »

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The Layout of Lake Cumberland

The ninth largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Cumberland is a perfect stage for the Costa FLW Series Championship. Home to all three bass species and over 1000 miles of shoreline, the lake can swallow up a big field with relative ease, and with the fall bite starting to pick up in earnest and the water level lower than usual, the fishing should be pretty good. READ MORE »

Previewing the Costa Championship

Previewing the Costa Championship

When 200 pros (and 200 co-anglers) descend on the southern Kentucky reservoir for the Costa FLW Series Championship, they’ll be facing conditions that might look nothing like what they’ll see as the official practice period opens this weekend. Forecasts call for ample rain over the weekend, and lake levels are likely to fluctuate as a result. READ MORE »

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

Morris Locks up Central Division AOY

It’s not often an angler wins a Strike King Angler of the Year title in a Costa FLW Series division by chance, and while skill is what carried Jake Morris to his first Costa AOY title, chance definitely brought him to the opportunity. READ MORE »

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

Rampey Stays Red Hot on Hartwell

After winning a T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament on Lake Hartwell a few weeks ago, Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., was certainly one of the favorites heading into the BFL Regional on the same pond this past weekend. Lo and behold, he wouldn’t disappoint, and notched his 11th career BFL win – five of which have come on Hartwell – and won a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower motor, plus $20,000 cash for his efforts. READ MORE »

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Eyes on the Weather at Lake of the Ozarks

Wrapping up the Costa FLW Series Central Division with an early fall stop at Lake of the Ozarks has become a tradition over the last few years. This year, the final stop of the season is presented by Evinrude and takes place Oct. 10-12, which should be good timing for a number of patterns to play. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 4

The final five T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournaments took place over the weekend, bringing BFL regular-season competition to a close. Regional tournaments will kick off Oct. 10, and by the end of the month the majority of the field for the 2020 All-American will be set.  READ MORE »

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Transition Time at Grand Lake

Grand Lake has been flooded for most of the summer, and, as a result, it hasn’t received as much fishing pressure as is typical for one of the premier fisheries in the region. Weights for the Costa FLW Series Southwestern Division finale, presented by T-H Marine, have the potential to be outstanding for this time of year, but it may all come down to what the weather decides to do leading up to the event. READ MORE »

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

The Cal Delta is Looking Good

This week the Costa FLW Series Western Division will conclude with the final event of the season on the California Delta. The tournament, which is presented by Power-Pole, should showcase a different side of the Delta, given that most of the Western Division tournaments on the famed fishery take place in the spring. That said, last year’s event on the Delta fell on nearly identical dates as this year and could be a good tease for how things may shake out this time around. READ MORE »

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

Super Tournament Winning Ways – Week 3

The third round of T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Super Tournament action saw smallmouths, spotted bass and largemouths all make an appearance as six divisions put a bow on the season with their respective two-day events. Here’s a quick recap of what all played out in the action spanning from the Detroit River down to Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

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 »