UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Ft. Gibson

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Nick Thliveros grabbed his first win from the front of the boat by taking advantage of stable conditions the numerous canals around Lake Okeechobee have to offer. The lake wasn’t fishing like it usually does this time of year, and several pros in the top 10 followed Thliveros’ lead, choosing to target canals rather than search the dirty, cooler water found in the lake.

Whether it was a canal or small sections of the lake, each pro in the top chose to hunker down in an area and milk it for all it was worth in the season opener of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division presented by Power-Pole. Here’s a look at how the action unfolded.

Thliveros’ winning pattern

Top 10 baits

Complete results

 

2. Nichols stays near the main lake

Cody Nichols of Fayette, Ala., has only been to Okeechobee one other time before this event, so he didn’t have any preconceived notions. While most of his practice was slow, the final 30 minutes on his third day proved vital.

“I was fishing in South Bay in a big lily pad area,” says Nichols. “I actually found the spot in the last 30 minutes before dark, and I think they were just starting to move in there. I was probably 200 yards from the outside grass line, so it was a place that the fish were moving up to for spawning.”

With a north wind on day one, Nichols’ spot sported a little dirty water, leaving him to catch 12 pounds, 10 ounces. It cleaned up on day two and he cracked 17-6 to put him in the top five. On the final day, Nichols scratched another 12 pounds from there, but if the tournament would have been a day longer, who knows what could have happened? The fish were really starting to push shallow at that point.

Nichols caught the majority of his fish on a 3/8-ounce white homemade swim jig paired with a NetBait Paca Craw. He also mixed in a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper and a 7-inch Trickster Stick Worm.

 

3. Abram hunkers down in J&S

Jason Abram had the same idea as Thliveros when it came to focusing on a canal. In fact, they shared water the entire event. The Piney Flats, Tenn., pro tried hard to rally on the final day with the biggest bag of the final round (weighing 17-4) with the help of an 8-pounder he caught early in the day. While it wasn’t enough for the W, he walks away with a good amount of points and a solid payday.

Abram honed in on two different 1/2-mile stretches in the J&S canal where he had to just make as many casts as he could until the fish turned on.

“The fish in the canal were staging on a ledge in 3 to 5 feet where it dropped to 16 off the edge,” says Abram. “You’d catch one every now and then and then go a while without a bite. It was like when they’d move up out of deep water they were ready to eat.

“The biggest key was finding the deepest water to the 3- to 5-foot ledge. I’d throw the crankbait along the rock and when there’d be a stickup or reeds, I’d flip them.”

His crankbait was an Uncle Ernie flat-sided crankbait and when he came across cover to flip, a soon-to-be-released Reaction Innovations’ bait called a Spicy Beaver on a 5/16-ounce weight got the call.

 

4. Preuett stays close

Shallow, muddy water isn’t exactly picture-perfect water on Okeechobee, but it didn’t deter Monroe, La., pro Brett Preuett. The former YETI FLW College Fishing National Champion went off a bit of experience and few bites he found in practice to net his first FLW Series top 10.

Unlike the rest of the top pros, Preuett had a large area near the East Wall all to himself. He didn’t fish it until later in the day on day one and scrounged up 8-8 with just four bass. On day two, he camped in there all day and sacked up 18-14 to make one of the biggest leaps of the event.

“On day three of the [FLW] Tour event last year I culled twice in that area and lost a 5-pounder,” Preuett says. “It’s an area I’ve been to in the past, and I got three bites in practice from there. Other than the first day, I’d never crank my big motor once. I shut down until it was time to head to weigh-in.”

Preuett’s fish were moving shallow looking to spawn. If not for some lost fish throughout the event, he could have threatened Thliveros for the title.

“I was fishing shallow in the mud,” Preuett adds. “Shallow enough that with my trolling motor all the way up I was still kicking up mud. I was catching females moving in next to single bushes, but I also lost some, too. I wish I had one more hour to fish [on the final day] because it was getting good.”

Preuett used three different weapons to cover the vast expanse of shallow reeds, pads and bushes: A 3/8-ounce Treeshaker Shaker Blade matched with a 3 1/2-inch Creme Reel Scremer swimbait or a 5-inch Reel Scremer covered water, while a homemade prop bait came in to make precise casts next to likely areas fish would spawn.

 

5. Melvin cranks a canal

Veteran FLW angler Sandy Melvin of Boca Grande, Fla., was fresh off the top 10 in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) event the week prior, and momentum carried over to this event.

Melvin implemented a one-two punch of starting in Uncle Joe’s Cut to get a limit before heading out to a spawning area in the lake to check for fish pushing shallow with slowly warming water.

“The cold water in the lake had the fish not wanting to bite,” Melvin says. “That’s why I started in the canal, because I knew I could get bit. I also knew that at any moment the lake could turn on, which I why I would go check it after I got a limit. I figured the canal could get me to day three, which is what I wanted, but the wave never pulled up. I caught 40 fish on the final day, but no females. If we had one more day it would have been good.”

Melvin didn’t get wild with baits and needed just a Lucky Craft LC 1.5 square-bill and a Texas-rigged Bitter’s Skip Shad in watermelonseed to trick fickle Okeechobee bass.

 

6. New slows down in South Bay

Bryan New picked up right where he left off after a top-10 finish at the Costa FLW Series Championship last November.

“I was fishing in South Bay where I got two bites in practice,” says the Belmont, N.C., pro. “It was the best-looking thing I had, and I’ve caught them in there before.

“I started fishing the eel grass out in the open, but after a while, I moved to the reed clumps and caught a good one flipping. From then on I did that for the rest of the tournament.”

A Texas-rigged, weightless Damiki Stinger pitched on a 7-foot, heavy-action Fitzgerald Stunner HD rod with 20-pound-test P-Line fluorocarbon was his main choice to shallow reeds. Later in the day, once the sun came out, he flipped a Damiki Air Craw on a 5/16-ounce weight to the heart of the clumps on a 7-foot, 3-inch, heavy-action Fitzgerald Stunner HD rod with 50-pound-test P-Line braid. With warmer water on the final day, he pulled out a Greenfish Tackle TAT – which he threw on the same rod as the Stinger – but with 17-pound-test P-Line monofilament.

 

7. Oligschlaeger is a one-rod wonder

Lance Oligschlaeger stuck to the Harney Pond canal after catching an 11-pounder there in practice – and who would blame him?

He weighed in 14-6 on day one with just four bass – all of which he caught in the final hour of fishing after spending the earlier part of his day on what he thought would be a “limit spot.” On day two, he committed to the same area and caught 16-4. The magic ran out on the final day, but it was still a solid event for the Gallatin, Tenn., pro.

“There were a lot of places in the canal that looked good, but I’d look at my Lowrance for places where the contour lines got tighter together,” says Oligschlaeger. “The tight contours are where there was a harder bottom. Most of the bottom in the canal had a bunch of slim on it, but those hard areas were pretty clean.

“There was also a lot of bait around the hard bottom places. For the big bites, you needed to be around the bait.”

Oligschlaeger went old-school in his cranking approach, opting for a Rapala Risto Rap, which are now discontinued. The one he used also happened to be the only one he had with him, so when the bill broke off the body in practice, things looked grim. Fortunately, he super-glued the bill back on and it made it through the entire event.

 

8. Parsons keeps it simple

David Parsons hasn’t had the best relationship with Okeechobee through the years, but a small 100-yard patch of hydrilla and lily pads in South Bay cured that.

“The Sunday before the tournament I went out and killed them in that spot,” Parsons says. “I had probably 20 bites, but the rest of practice was terrible. I just went back to it, Power-Poled down and stayed there all day.”

Despite having at least 20 boats around him the first two days, he still caught limits worth 12-8 and 13-15 to establish himself as one of the more consistent anglers in the top 10.

In true Okeechobee fashion, Parsons threw a Gambler Big EZ or a Yamamoto Senko with a 1/8-ounce weight.

 

9. Google Earth leads Hall to honey hole

Billy Hall of Greenback, Tenn., did his homework to find a hidden gem all to himself.

“I fished in Pelican Bay and actually found the spot looking at Google Earth,” says Hall. “It looked like an airboat trail or something, and when I got in there, I found really clear water and a 200-yard stretch of reeds with pockets in them.

“I had to make long-distance casts because the water was so clear, but it was a place where I knew fish would be moving in, and it kind of acted like a funnel or a front door to where they’d spawn.”

According to Hall, fluorocarbon was a must. His main setup was 20-pound-test Seaguar Tatsu on a 13 Fishing Concept Z reel with a Cashion rod. On the business end, a Texas-rigged Bruiser Baits Stick Worm with a 1/16-ounce weight is a tried-and-true approach, but the twist was that he added a small screw-in willow blade on the back, and it made all the difference. He also covered water with a Missile Baits Shockwave.

 

10. Osinski sticks to Clewiston

No stranger to top 10s on the Big O, Val Osinski padded his resume some more, though it wasn’t in a way he’s used to.

“This was an unusual tournament,” Osinski says. “I spent three days in one area; I never do that. I found an area close to takeoff where I felt confident and just hunkered down and fished. I flipped the thicker grass when it was cooler and fished the spare cover when it warmed up. I think it was important that the area had easy access to the main lake, making it easy for fish to come in to spawn.”

When he flipped Kissimmee grass mats, Osinski reached for a Gambler Ugly Otter, which he matched with a Starflash punch skirt. In the thinner stuff, he threw the brand new Gambler EZ Vibez swimbait or ol’ faithful – a Fat Ace.

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

Vlog: Becker's 3 Patterns from Martin

Vlog: Becker's 3 Patterns from Martin

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit pro Matt Becker recently shared a great video that details the three patterns he used to earn a fourth-place finish at the season’s third stop on Lake Martin. Becker, who’s currently second in the Angler of the Year race, caught both largemouth and spotted bass and capitalized on a variety of tactics for a top finish. His patterns included targeting staging and spawning spotted bass on shoals, skipping docks and sight-fishing for spawning largemouths.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Martin

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Martin

Spotted bass dominated the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Lake Martin, but they didn’t win it. Sure, the sheer abundance of spotted bass in Martin left most pros’ thumbs bloody and raw from catching so many fish. Yet, it was the key largemouth that really separated the field, and what helped Jason Abram earn his first victory. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

Practice Report: Lake Martin

Practice Report: Lake Martin

March in Alabama can be boom or bust in terms of weather, but luckily this week’s forecast calls for mostly gorgeous springtime weather for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Bank Battle Set for Lake of the Ozarks

Bank Battle Set for Lake of the Ozarks

When it comes to prespawn in the Ozarks, there may not be a better place to catch a giant bag of bass in the spring than on Lake of the Ozarks. And though the weather has been a little up and down over the last several weeks, things are setting up for a solid start to the Toyota Series Plains Division season March 26-28. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Hartwell

Top 10 Baits from Hartwell

Because of high water and cooler conditions, bass on Lake Hartwell haven’t quite gotten fully into the mood to spawn. During the Toyota Series Eastern Division opener on Lake Hartwell, there were plenty of shallow fish to be had, but catching them wasn’t as simple as finding one pattern or one primary bait. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Hartwell

Top 10 Patterns from Hartwell

Early March on Lake Hartwell can be feast or famine. The bite often depends on weather patterns, as both largemouth and spotted bass are staging before the spawn. MLF Bass Pro Tour pro Marty Robinson pulled off a wire-to-wire win, but the victory wasn’t easy. The final field of 10 contained a lot of local knowledge and experienced anglers who were ready to knock Robinson off should he falter. Here’s a look at how the rest of the top 10 caught their fish and earned their paychecks. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Chickamauga

In February, with water temperatures in the high 40s, no one expected a fast and furious bite during the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga. What everyone hoped for was quality fish. There were two 10-pound-plus bass brought to the weigh-in stand, but it appeared consistency was the name of the game, at least for the winner, Jim Neece Jr. of Bristol, Tenn.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

In past FLW events on the chain, the grass was best in Griffin and Harris, but this time Dora, Beauclair, Eustis and Harris provided most of the top bags. Targeting hydrilla, eelgrass and hard spots, prespawn and postspawn fish were the focus for the vast majority of the top schools. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Lake Chickamauga

It was February, so low temperatures were the norm for the 2020 Toyota Series Central Division tournament on Lake Chickamauga. Water temperatures were in the high 40s, which meant the bass were generally not overly aggressive or active. Not all, but most fish were taken in shallow water where the bass were moving up to feed and/or take advantage of warmer, shallower water. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

Between cold fronts and pressure, the Harris Chain has been a tough nut to crack, yet the top teams in the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance got it done with a combination of plastic and hard baits. Certainly, the teams learned a thing or two from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event held the week prior on the chain, but you still can never go wrong with a Texas-rigged worm, vibrating jig or lipless crankbait in Florida. READ MORE »

SFA Wins National Championship

SFA Wins National Championship

After an exciting final weigh-in, the Stephen F. Austin team of Hank Harrison and Ethan LeGare were crowned champions of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain. Due to an inadvertent violation of Rule 12, the leading McKendree University team of Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis had their final-day weight disqualified. Weighing the biggest bag of the day at 20 pounds, 8 ounces, Harrison and LeGare totaled 56-5 to win. READ MORE »

McKendree Cruises Ahead on Harris

McKendree Cruises Ahead on Harris

After two days on the Harris Chain for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance, McKendree University’s Nathan Doty and Jacob Louis backed up their 22-pound, 10-ounce performance from day one with another 20-2 today to take the lead. READ MORE »

Sam Houston Leads with 24-11

Sam Houston Leads with 24-11

Day one of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance on the Harris Chain certainly didn’t disappoint. The consensus from many of the teams during practice was that the chain was fishing tough, yet would kick up some solid bags on Tuesday. With 10 bags over 18 pounds and six over 20, it’s safe to say the Harris Chain is living up to it’s potential. READ MORE »

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Kritsberg Hits Jackpot With Strickland Mega-Bag

Warren “Butch” Kritsberg has only lived in Florida for a few years, and he’s still learning a lot about fishing the Harris Chain of Lakes. Fortunately, he now has a lot of new intel about where and how to catch giants after riding along with Laramy Strickland on the second tournament day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event, which was presented by Bad Boy Mowers. READ MORE »

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

College Championship Kicks Off on Harris

Championship week for any sport is as exciting as it gets and it’s no different for the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance this week on the Harris Chain. Competing for a $30,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower outboard, 162 college bass fishing clubs will have free range of the chain to vie for the title. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Patterns from the Harris Chain

Each day of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the Harris Chain of Lakes was markedly different from the day prior. Most of the field struggled a bit, and the final 30 anglers were left scrambling to figure out how to find and catch fish in the post-frontal conditions that are often so detrimental for Florida largemouths.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

Top 10 Baits from the Harris Chain

At Florida’s Harris Chain, in late winter, it’s a good bet the same handful of baits are going to produce more than any others, from Lake Harris down to Apopka. During the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on the Harris Chain, presented by Bad Boy Mowers, it was Texas rigs with black and blue plastics, jerkbaits, Carolina rigs and a few other moving baits that most often got the call.  READ MORE »

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Prespawn Showdown Set for Hartwell

Spring can be one of the best times to launch a boat in the clear waters of Lake Hartwell. That’s why the Georgia-South Carolina border reservoir might be the perfect venue to start the Eastern Division of the Toyota Series on March 3.  READ MORE »