UPCOMING EVENT: YETI FLW COLLEGE FISHING - 2019 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

FISHING LEAGUE WORLDWIDE

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 

Toho on YouTube

Toho on YouTube

The second stop of the FLW Tour season on Lake Toho was a big-bass bonanza. Thanks to mandatory POV cameras and marshals, plenty of big bass were caught on camera. Aside from individual catches, pros also documented their practice and tournament days to give the viewer and inside look at how their event unfolded. Below is the full list of videos released by the pros at this point.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Toho

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Toho

While the Lake Toho FLW Tour event presented by Ranger Boats fell basically right on top of a wave of spawning bass piling into the shallows, many of the top finishers targeted bass that were staging out or transitioning to or from their beds. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Toho

Top 10 Baits from Toho

The second stop of the 2019 FLW Tour landed right on the spawn on Lake Toho and the other lakes on the Kissimmee Chain. Top finishers caught bass in all phases of the spawn. Collectively, they used just about every bait you’ll ever need if you want to catch a bass this time of year in the Sunshine State. READ MORE »

Marshal Program a Big Hit for Hughes

Marshal Program a Big Hit for Hughes

Retired minister Dan Hughes made the most money he’s ever banked in a fishing tournament, and he did it without even picking up a rod. The 70-year-old Fitzgerald, Ga., resident was the winner of FLW’s marshal contest at the Tour’s second stop of the season at Lake Toho, presented by Ranger Boats. Paired with John Cox on day one and Chris Neau on day two, Hughes’ pros combined for 41 pounds, 10 ounces during his two days on the water to take home the $2,500 top prize. READ MORE »

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

Burghoff Checks Out Toho on Day 2

FLW Tour rookie Miles “Sonar” Burghoff kicked off his freshman season with a strong performance on Sam Rayburn, where he just missed fishing the final day with a 12th-place finish. Now, the Tour is on a system he is more than familiar with, having spent countless hours on Lakes Toho and Kissimmee while attending college at the University of Central Florida. READ MORE »

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

Top 10 Patterns from Okeechobee

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. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Top 10 Baits from Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee wasn’t her normal self in the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener presented by Power-Pole. Bites were few and far between, but the top-10 pros dialed it in and got it done. Winner Nick Thliveros relied heavily on a crankbait and so did others, but Florida faithful’s like swim jigs, soft plastics and topwaters also fared well. READ MORE »

Niles Rallies for Co-angler Title

Niles Rallies for Co-angler Title

The Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole was a grind no matter if you were in the front of the boat or back. Bites were few and far between, and as a co-angler just catching a keeper or two kept you in the hunt. Niles started strong with an opening-day limit worth 18-9 to have him in the lead. On day two, he cooled off and brought a goose egg to the stage. Still, his day-one weight carried him to the final round where he started the day in fourth. Paired with Brett Preuett, Niles got to work Saturday. READ MORE »

Thliveros Brings it Home

Thliveros Brings it Home

Nick Thliveros led after day two on Okeechobee and after weighing his lowest weight of the week, he was able to seal the deal for his first Costa FLW Series win as a pro. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The third and final day of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole has the weather anglers have been hoping for since they started practice. A light breeze, plenty of sun and temperatures near 80 degrees have the top 10 pros and co-anglers licking their chops for a chance at the biggest bag of the tournament. READ MORE »

Nick Thliveros Wins Costa FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole

Nick Thliveros Wins Costa FLW Series on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole

CLEWISTON, Fla. (Feb. 2, 2019) – Florida boater Nick Thliveros of Saint Augustine, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces – enough to win the 2019 Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole. Thliveros, son of legendary bass angler Peter Thliveros, weighed in 15 bass over three days of competition totaling 46 pounds, 1... READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 2

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 2

Fishing as a whole is still tough on the Big O, but there was definitely an improvement today – especially for the guys at the top of the leaderboard. READ MORE »

Thliveros in Charge on Okeechobee

Thliveros in Charge on Okeechobee

Nick Thliveros is one day away from taking the title in the Costa FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 2

Every ounce counts in a tournament, and that will certainly ring true today. The second day of Costa FLW Series competition on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole may be off to a better start, but big bites are still few and far between. READ MORE »

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 1

Top 5 Patterns from Okeechobee – Day 1

Things are tough on Okeechobee, but these pros cracked some of the code to wrangle solid catches. READ MORE »

Roder Out Front on Big O

Roder Out Front on Big O

Okeechobee is normally the place of dreams. This week, however, it isn’t quite living up to its reputation. Day one of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division event on the Big O saw plenty of fish, though the quality bites were hard to come by. Troy Roder of Brookeland, Texas, set the pace early with a 19-pound, 15-ounce limit to grab the lead in the season opener – presented by Power-Pole – with a lead of over 4 pounds heading into Friday. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 1

Power fishing and flipping lead the charge for the first few hours of fishing on Lake Okeechobee. READ MORE »

A Different Okeechobee

A Different Okeechobee

Cold fronts, dirty water and lower water levels make for an interesting start to the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division season. READ MORE »

Spawn on the Horizon at Okeechobee

Spawn on the Horizon at 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. READ MORE »

How to Bass Fish High Water in Winter

How to Bass Fish High Water in Winter

High water isn’t unusual in the spring or summer, but dealing with rising water this early in the year was somewhat of a new experience for many of the pros – as it is for the weekend warrior. Therefore, the Rayburn Tour event is a case study on how to handle this situation and still put loads of bass in the boat. READ MORE »