UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Clear Lake

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

An Okeechobee Slugfest Could Happen

Pre-tournament optimism can be hard to find, but this year, if the weather holds, the fishing might be really good for the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee.

 

TOURNAMENT DETAILS

Toyota Series Southern Division

Lake Okeechobee

Clewiston, Fla.

March 12-14, 2020

Hosted by the Hendry County Tourism Development Council and Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort

 

How the lake sets up

Essentially a big shallow bowl with grass around the edges, Lake Okeechobee is one of the most historic places in bass fishing. In recent years, it has routinely failed to truly show out like the old days, but conditions this time around could be better.

“From this year to last year, we’re about the same water level,” says Donny Bass, who routinely competes in FLW events in Florida. “We’re at like 12.6 feet now, which is almost identical to last year. The difference is last year we had no submerged vegetation, and this year we have a lot of eelgrass. There’s still very little other submerged vegetation, but there is a lot of eelgrass, which was a big player in the Bass Pro Tour event.”

 

Troy Roder

What to expect

If things go well and the forecast holds, the fishing ought to be good. Unlike most of the recent tournaments in Florida, this one should actually coincide with warm weather.

“We’ve had a lot of little tiny waves of spawners, but we haven’t had that major push – a big wave,” says Bass. “If I was to bet, I’d bet it might be really, really good; maybe the best we’ve seen this year.

“I feel like every Thursday or Friday we’ve had a cold front for the last two months,” adds Bass. “They’re not hanging around. I don’t know if it’s the lack of vegetation or just the weather. We’ve got a mild little cold front coming in, but it’s not very big, and then it’s going to be pretty stable leading up to the event.”

Bass says that due to the current makeup of the lake, which changes a lot year to year depending on the vegetation, the north end is the place to be.

“We’ve had a lot of north winds, and that trashes the south end,” he says. “The south end lost a ton of the hard walls [of cattails]. So, there’s less to protect it down there. The water down there has stayed muddy all year.

“If I had to bet, it’s going to be another north end deal. Those cattails that Taylor Ashley was throwing a swim jig around when he won down there in 2017, they’re all gone. So, the south end is real finicky now.”

For a winning weight, Bass thinks that tough fishing could produce a total of around 57 or 58 pounds.

“If the weather holds out, and if it’s good, you could add 10 pounds to that,” says Bass. “It’d take at least 20 a day if it’s good. March and April tend to be the best two months on Okeechobee if you ask any local guy. We get our biggest spawns in April, and they tend to not leave as easy because we start getting a bluegill spawn.”

So, cross your fingers the weather holds. If it does, it could be a fun time down in Florida.

 

Taylor Ashley

Baits and techniques

If it works in Florida, it works at Okeechobee. All sorts of soft baits and skirted baits will be in play come derby day. One of the main questions ahead of each event on Okeechobee is what way the techniques will lean – casting or flipping.

“I’m a big-time flipper. That’s pretty much what I do,” says Bass. “I learned from Brandon McMillan. He pretty much showed me the ropes. The last few years, the casters have won more than the flippers have. So, if I had to bet, it’s going to be more of a casting deal.

“Something like a Gambler Burner Worm or a swim jig would be the deal,” says Bass. “The flipping bite has been tough, and the few mats we have only have about 6 inches of water.”

From a standpoint of fun, it’d be hard to beat a winding bite on the Big O. Some of the most epic tournament footage of all time has come about from just such a bite.

 

 

Tags: jody-white  pre-tournament  2020-03-12-okeechobee 

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

Fish Northern Rivers for Smallmouth

From the Mississippi River to the Peshtigo River, Wisconsin and the surrounding region has miles of flowing water chock full of smallmouth bass. In the recent Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota, Matt Stefan targeted rivers flowing into Green Bay for the majority of his catch, and in doing so, he was able to tap into a skillset that he’s groomed for years on the Wisconsin River and other flowages near him. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

Top Patterns and Baits from the Detroit River

With the whole field boxed into the Detroit River for the first two days of the final Toyota Series Northern Division event, it’s natural that the main player was the river itself. But, on the final day, when folks could branch out, Scott Dobson actually ran to St. Clair and many of the other pros ventured into Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Grubb Wins Co-Angler Side at the Detroit River

Taking the co-angler win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River, Tony Grubb weighed four bass for 14 pounds, 1 ounce on the final day for a 46-5 total. For the win, his second as a co-angler with FLW, Grubb takes home a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat worth over $35,000. READ MORE »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 3

With the wind laying down a bit, the top 10 anglers in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on the Detroit River have been able to go wherever they pleased today. With crisp morning temperatures, plenty of sun and a north wind, the conditions have largely been quite good, with mixed results from the anglers. 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 »

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 »

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

Detroit River Midday Update – Day 2

With strong wind from the north again, the Toyota Series Northern Division field was again confined to the actual Detroit River. On day one, the fishing was quite good, and several pros crossed the 20-pound mark and plenty of limits hit the scales. Today, things seem a little tougher. 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 »

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Smith Wins Southeastern AOY

Originally from Wisconsin and sometimes wearing a Green Bay Packers hoodie on stage, Dustin Smith doesn’t fit the mold of Toyota Series Southeastern Division Strike King Angler of the Year. Still, Smith hammered out a pair of top 10s and a 27th-place showing en route to the title, and his style of fishing was simply perfect for this season in the Southeastern Division. READ MORE »

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

Northern Division Finishes at Detroit River

The 2020 Toyota Series Northern Division will wrap up in Trenton, Mich., Sept. 17-19, at the Detroit River. Hosted by the Detroit Sports Commission, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Eastern Division Heads to the Potomac

Eastern Division Heads to the Potomac

The Toyota Series Eastern Division rolls on with the Toyota Series at the Potomac River. Hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners, the three-day tournament will feature the region’s best bass-fishing pros and co-anglers casting for a top prize of up to $65,000, plus a $35,000 bonus if the winner is a qualified Phoenix Boat owner. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Sturgeon Bay

Top 10 Baits from Sturgeon Bay

Summertime smallmouth fishing makes having a drop-shot or two on the deck pretty essential, and the top pros in the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay basically all relied on the versatile finesse rig to get the job done. However, between them, there was a decent amount of variation in baits, and a few pros actually branched out from the drop-shot into other techniques. READ MORE »

Mitchell’s First Look at Sturgeon Bay

Mitchell’s First Look at Sturgeon Bay

Having fished as a pro on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for five years now, Kurt Mitchell started coming into his own during the 2019 season. That year he qualified for the FLW Cup – for the first time in his career – by finishing 24th in the points. This year, Mitchell kept rolling along cashing checks in five of the six Pro Circuit tournaments to settle at 31st in the points and now finds himself in his second straight championship. READ MORE »

Practice at Sturgeon Bay with Shuffield

Practice at Sturgeon Bay with Shuffield

Spencer Shuffield has had a tremendous season on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and he capped it off with a top 10 finish at Lake Erie. Now, he’s getting ready for the Tackle Warehouse TITLE presented by Toyota on Sturgeon Bay, which has only the top 50 Pro Circuit anglers in it and will be a Major League Fishing (MLF) format event. READ MORE »

Big Prizes at Stake for College Open

Big Prizes at Stake for College Open

After being postponed due to COVID-19, the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open is set to take place on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in mid-September for the sixth consecutive season. This time around, however, the stakes are even higher, as teams compete for a brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat and 20 spots in the 2021 National Championship. READ MORE »

Mundy goes Back-to-Back on Erie

Mundy goes Back-to-Back on Erie

Totaling up 41 pounds, 6 ounces, Dan Mundy won the co-angler side of the Toyota Series event on Lake Erie and is about ready to start a boat dealership. After winning the first Northern Division event of the year, the Michigan co-angler went back-to-back in the second event of the season to claim another Phoenix boat worth $33,500. READ MORE »

Mitchell Holds on at Erie

Mitchell Holds on at Erie

After weighing nearly 25 pounds on day two, Kurt Mitchell put 15 pounds, 8 ounces on the scale on the final day to close out the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With 60-2 total, Mitchell earned his first FLW win and pocketed $26,206 in winnings. READ MORE »

Mitchell Swings into the Lead on Erie

Mitchell Swings into the Lead on Erie

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was tough on some, but it was a party for Kurt Mitchell. Weighing 24 pounds, 11 ounces, he moved up from second into the lead with a 44-10 total. Only the top 10 fish on the final day and they’ll have a steep hill to climb to catch Mitchell. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Lake Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has posed some serious challenges from a coverage perspective. Not only are the leaders fishing about as far apart as possible, but the waves to the east of Sandusky are pretty huge. Still, from the reports we have, it looks like plenty of fish will come to the scale one way or another. READ MORE »