UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Ohio River

Game Day on Okeechobee

Game Day on Okeechobee

The second stop of the Toyota Series Southern Division is hitting Lake Okeechobee later in the year than usual for FLW. Typically, big, multi-day FLW events on the Big O go down in January and February, but this one runs March 12-14 and should offer a different look at the familiar and ever-changing body of water.

Complete details

 

About the fishery

Other than the rim ditch that circles the lake and some offshore rock piles, Okeechobee is essentially a big bowl of shallow grass. Filled in the past with all sorts of grass, the current version of Okeechobee is mostly rimmed with a mix of reeds and eelgrass, with little hydrilla or other submerged grass and comparatively few mats. Still, it’s a daunting body of water that looks phenomenal – unfortunately, not every inch of it is as loaded as it looks.

Historically, anglers tend to cluster in the north and south ends, but that may change this time around. Because of this year’s mix of grass, a lot of the west side might be more in play than usual.

The bass are all Florida strain, which have a reputation of being finicky in the cold, and there is all sorts of bait for forage. Right now, the shad and bluegill spawns are starting, and there are plenty of tilapia along with other fish and critters for the bass to munch on as well.

 

Current conditions

Wind early on in practice made big sections of the lake fairly muddy, which is usually a bad deal in Florida. But, things seem to be settling down and clearing up now.

Kyle Monti, a Bassmaster Elite Series Pro and guide on the lake, is as well positioned as anyone to know what’s up.

“It’s getting better,” says Monti. “The wind has stopped, and it’s gonna get better throughout the week I think. I fished Monday and Tuesday, and it was hard to move around and fish. [Wednesday] was good, and Tuesday was halfway decent in the afternoon.”

According to both Monti and Dylan McMillan, there’s a lot of eelgrass on the west side of the lake, and it’s cleared up a lot of the water there.

“That whole stretch is beautiful,” says Monti. “You go through there, and it’s crystal clear, even on the outside. I think it will spread the boats out. Without the hydrilla in Harney Pond, there won’t be as many in there as there used to be.”

One thing to keep in mind this week is how diverse the fishing could be. Because it’s later in the year than normal, there are likely to be a lot of bass in prespawn, spawning and postspawn modes.

“Right now it’s all three phases,” says Monti. “Three days ago the water temp was 65 degrees, and today it was 74 degrees when I left. And, the shad spawn is probably going to start in the morning, I saw a little bit of that going on today.”

 

Tactics in play

This year, Okeechobee has been less of a flipping lake than usual and more of a winding lake. So, swim jigs, swimming worms, and vibrating jigs should play pretty well. There’s also the possibility of some spinnerbaits and other real shad-style baits coming into action if a shad spawn is available.

Monti seems to think that winding is going to be the name of the game, but he’s on the lookout for changes as the week goes on.

“I haven’t done much as far as flipping goes, but later in the week it could turn into an outside reedline thing,” says Monti. “If it stays warm and they spawn today and tomorrow, they could pull back out and you could get on that bite.”

 

Critical factors

  • A shad spawn – Monti doesn’t think a shad spawn alone is going to account for a giant bag, but from the sounds of things, there will be a handful of anglers who get right in the first 30 minutes or so targeting bass that are munching on spawning shad.
  • Other spawns – With bass and bluegill spawning, someone could run a sightfishing pattern or run a bluegill bed pattern. Either would be a cool departure from the norm for FLW events on Okeechobee.
  • Dealing with pressure – Typically, the best areas on Okeechobee have a lot of boats on them and the winner is able to figure out some edge. Maybe it’s a key stretch within or near the area, or maybe it’s just fishing a bit different. Making those slight adjustments could be very important.

 

Dock talk

Though the weather is looking good, with highs in the 80s the next three days, the projections are mixed as usual.

“For a guy that’s not from here, it’s tough,” says Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Dakota Ebare. “The water is down, so you can’t run around everywhere, and that really makes it difficult to find those really good areas without knocking off your motor. It’s so big and vast, and there’s a lot of water that looks great, that’s no good.

“I talked to Brandon McMillan earlier, he drove by in his UPS truck, and he said that it’d probably take 20 pounds a day to win, which is pretty much catchin’ ‘em. I could see that.”

Keith Carson, a disciple of John Cox, says practice has been pretty tough on him and that he’s actually planning to fish for bedding bass.

“I’m seeing a few bed fish,” says Carson. “They’ve been pulling up, and they’re gone within hours. Yesterday I had some good fish on beds, some over 5, and I went to check them [Wednesday morning] and they were completely gone. And, their beds had turned to a dingy color – they weren’t even white anymore. Because the lake is so stirred up, all that sediment is settling on the beds very quickly. I might catch 16 pounds, or I might catch 6 pounds. I’m gonna try to bed-fish – it’s been really difficult, but if I can catch one or two females I’ll be really satisfied.”

Monti is of the opinion that the fishing could be really good. If it’s tough, he expects a winning weight around 54 pounds, but if it’s good, we could see a bit of a showdown.

“This year, if it’s warm and the wind’s not blowing it’s really good. But if it’s windy and cold, there’s no deeper hydrilla or good mats, so it’s bad,” says Monti. “They haven’t had a big, hard push yet. I think that’s what’s going to happen. If it’s like that, it’ll take 22 or 23 pounds a day to win.”

 

Tournament details

Format: All boaters and co-anglers will compete for two days. The top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on cumulative weight after two days of competition will advance to the third and final round, with the winner in each division determined by the heaviest cumulative three-day weight.

Takeoff Time: 7:30 a.m. ET

Takeoff Location: Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort, 920 East Del Monte Ave., Clewiston, FL 33440

Weigh-In Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Weigh-In Location: Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort

Complete details

Tags: jody-white  jody-white-  morning-story  2020-03-12-okeechobee 

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Top 10 Patterns from Lake Erie

Lee Rogers mixed smallmouths from the nearby islands with a good largemouth day near Sandusky to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. Outside of Rogers, the top 10 was filled with folks making substantial runs eastward or to Michigan. It also proved helpful to actually get something going around Sandusky, both during days one and two and on the wind-hampered final day. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

Top 10 Baits from Lake Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie featured pretty tough fishing overall. On the first two days, many of the top pros ran to the Detroit River or St. Clair for their fish, and others plied the waters nearer Sandusky. On the final day, the entire field was confined to the waters in and around Sandusky Bay due to wind, and everyone switched to targeting largemouths. READ MORE »

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Mundy Takes Erie Co-angler Title

Despite weighing in just 9 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day, it was still enough to move Dan Mundy of Swartz Creek, Mich., from second to first for the win in the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With a total of 38-12, Mundy takes home a new Phoenix boat package valued at over $33,000. READ MORE »

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Rogers Wins from 8th on Erie

Starting the final day in eighth place, Lee Rogers of Newton, N.J., rocketed up the leaderboard with the biggest limit of the day to win the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. With the field confined to the area around Sandusky Bay due to wind, Rodgers brought 15 pounds, 10 ounces to the scale for a total of 48-12 to earn his first win with FLW. For his win, Rogers gets the trophy and a $32,439 paycheck. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

Erie Midday Update – Day 3

With big winds present even before putting boats in the water, it was obvious that day three of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was going to throw the anglers a curveball. After a short delay, the new boundaries were set from Marblehead Lighthouse to Cedar Point, and the pros blasted off in search of bass. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 2

The final day of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie is likely to change things up quite a bit. With many of the top pros making long runs, there’s a chance much of what happened on days one and two will be physically impossible on day three. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Erie Midday Update – Day 2

Day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event has been pretty slow across the board, and particularly for the leaders. Though the weather isn’t too bad and the wind is fairly manageable, the fishing in Erie is slower than it was yesterday. READ MORE »

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

Stokes Pulls Ahead on Erie

One of a number of pros who elected to make the run from Sandusky to the Detroit River, Troy Stokes pulled into the lead on day two of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie. READ MORE »

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Lake Erie Top 5 Patterns – Day 1

Day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie was not dominated by St. Clair as some expected. Though St. Clair did produce the lead for Scott Dobson, a hodgepodge of techniques and locations got it done for the other top pros on Erie. READ MORE »

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

Erie Midday Update – Day 1

From a weather standpoint, day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie has been almost too perfect. Slick and hot from the start, anglers have been able to go wherever they want and fish however they want. READ MORE »

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

Dobson Takes Slim Lead on Erie

The weights on day one of the Toyota Series Northern Division event on Lake Erie were about what folks expected: plenty of quality fish, but a lack of the plump 4- and 5-pounders that Erie is so known for. Weighing one of only two bags over 20 pounds, Scott Dobson put 20-12 on the scale after a day of fishing that took him as far from Sandusky as the mouth of the St. Clair River. READ MORE »

Ready to Rock on Erie

Ready to Rock on Erie

The Toyota Series Northern Division has undergone more than its share of schedule shuffling this year, but the kickoff is finally here. Taking off out of Sandusky, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie, the time to chase smallmouths has arrived. READ MORE »

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

Piedmont Division Heads to Kerr

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Piedmont Division continues its season with back-to-back tournaments on Kerr Lake on July 18 and 19. READ MORE »

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

Review: Strike King Popping Perch

The frog world is pretty stacked with good options these days, but the Strike King Popping Perch still manages to stand out. READ MORE »

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Northern Division Heads to Sandusky

Swiftly rescheduled due to New York’s recently announced travel restrictions, the Toyota Series Northern Division is now kicking off on Lake Erie, launching out of Sandusky, Ohio, July 9-11. The event is the first of three in the division, with the others scheduled for August on Lake Champlain and on the Detroit River in September. READ MORE »

AOY Update: Lake Chickamauga

AOY Update: Lake Chickamauga

Though Jacob Wheeler won the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga in grand style, his win didn’t impact the Angler of the Year standings. Only the original Pro Circuit anglers were competing for AOY points. That means the AOY focus is still on Ron Nelson, who slipped off his blazing pace a bit, but still holds the lead heading into the final two regular-season events in July and August on the Mississippi River and the Detroit River, respectively. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

Top 10 Baits from Chickamauga

When so many anglers are throwing similar baits and running similar patterns, doing something a little different can be quite the advantage. Sure enough, the pros who made the top 10 at the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga all had techniques or tactics of their own to set themselves apart. READ MORE »

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Shenandoah Div. Restarts on the Potomac

Competition in the Shenandoah Division presented by A.R.E. Truck Caps of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine will restart at the Potomac River on June 27. With the river’s bass fully into the postspawn now, the event should be a classic summertime Potomac derby. READ MORE »

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

Previewing Chick: Can Other Lakes Play?

When the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit picks back up next week with the Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga, the famous lake isn’t the only reservoir available to pros in the event. If they want, pros will be able to run and lock up into Watts Bar Lake or down into Nickajack Lake. READ MORE »

Review: Berkley PowerBait The Deal

Review: Berkley PowerBait The Deal

Designed by Major League Fishing pro Skeet Reese, the Berkley PowerBait The Deal is a unique twin-tailed trailer that’s right at home on the back of a vibrating jig or a swim jig. The Deal comes in 3 1/2- and 4 1/2-inch versions (I tested the 4 1/2), all the standard colors and has already seen tournament success. READ MORE »