FLW COSTA Series Tournament Lake Okeechobee 87th place out of 238
Just got back from fishing the Southeastern Costa Series Tournament on Lake Okeechobee in Florida. While the fishing could have been better it was a great trip and a great learning experience about bass fishing in Florida. I didn't do nearly as well as I would have liked but at the same time I realize that when fishing as a co-angler sometimes things just don't line up the way they need to in order to have a great tournament. I've been there before. I flew into Orlando from St. Louis on Tuesday then drove on down to Clewiston, Florida that afternoon. It was funny because as I was driving into Clewiston, I saw Brandon who edits all the videos for the Scott Martin Youtube channel going down the street on a skateboard. It was funny to me because I watch the Scott Martin Youtube channel often.
Wednesday morning I was able to get out for a couple of hours to pre-fish and then head to the pre-tournament meeting. In pre-fishing I caught one bass that was about 3 pounds and my buddy caught one small keeper. At the pre-tournament meeting it was fun to get to see legends of the sport like Roland Martin and Gary Yamamotto. I got to hear the story of how Gary Yamamotto invented the Senko. When it comes to soft plastic baits the Senko might go down as one of the most productive baits ever invented so it was fun to get to talk to the inventor. Originally the Senko was designed to be a bait that was soft but to be fished like a fluke. Gary wanted to have a bait that had a better hookup ratio than the fluke so he started with designing a super soft bait in the shape of a permanent marker. Gary said that it didn't take long for people to realize that there were a large number of ways that the bait could be fished and that dead sticking the bait was probably the most productive one. Originally they had no idea the amount of action the bait would have on the fall and all that was just pure luck in the design. Also the original Senko was very smooth and later the ridges and details were added to the bait because fishermen pay more attention to the details in a bait instead of the fish.
The tournament didn't start off the way I would have wanted at all. Day 1 was a brutal day of fishing for me. I drew a guy that was flipping heavy isolated matted vegetation all day. He would put the boat in nose first and power pole down and fish the mat thoroughly before I got a shot at it. I pretty much had given up in trying to fish the same stuff he was fishing but we were also in some really black water. The water we were fishing in was so black that I lost a black and blue jig after about 3 inches of water. This zapped my confidence in catching fish out in the open and away from cover. I fished a lot out the back of the boat with senkos, worms, chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits and for whatever reason I couldn't get a bite. It was one of those tough days that rarely happen to me but when they do they show you how humbling fishing can be. My boater managed to catch 5 keepers for about 10lbs flipping he only had 5 keeper bites all day and caught a gar. The day started off for him fast and furious he put three keepers in the boat in the first 30 minutes but he had to work the rest of the day for the bites. I did learn a thing or two about punching from him throughout the day and learned what kind of grass to look for and also noticed which were the better mats. This experience will pay off down the road sometime when I get back to Okeechobee.
Day 2 was a much better day for me. I drew a guy that was in the top 20 after day 1 and we headed into a grass field and ended up fishing in a cove with 18 other boats. I was able to catch a limit of bass in the first 40 minutes by fishing both weight-less Senkos and a Senko Texas-Rigged with a 3/16th oz Pro Tungsten weight. The key was to work the baits very slow over the grass. We ended up fishing a grass field and navigating through all the other boats that were fishing in there was well. During the morning the bite was pretty good and every couple of minutes someone was setting the hook on a fish and flipping it into the boat. It was very apparent to me that half the guys in the top of the field were fishing in this area the first day. The fishing during the tournament was so tough that a lot of the guys that cashed on both sides were fishing offshore community holes like the one we fished and catching schooling fish. The majority of the fish they were catching were little buck bass because the weather had knocked the big females back a bit during the tournament. The water temperature when we started the tournament was only 57 degrees. As the tournament went on and the waters continued to warm a couple more big fish popped up on day two of the tournament. My boater eventually got a limit and at about 2:00pm he was able to connect with a better fish that was over 4lbs. It was crazy because we both had made a couple hundred of casts to the spot as well as over 8 or 9 boats but he was able to get the lucky bite. The rest of the day he picked up a swimbait and fished it over the grass because he was looking for that kicker bite. At about 3:00pm he managed to get the big bite he was looking for and hook into a 5lber. I was able to get the net on the fish and my guy ended up in 4th place after two days of fishing. Despite catching 12 keepers on day two I knew since I didn't have any luck on the first day that I had practically no chance at getting a check with what I caught.
We got back to weigh-in and my 5 keepers went 7lbs 13 oz which had me finish in 87th place in the tournament. The tournament could have gone a lot better but it also could have been a lot worse. There were plenty of big sticks that had a tough time catching fish on Okeechobee since the bite was so tough. A couple of FLW Tour guys that have done well on Okeechobee failed to bring in a keeper. I got some much needed points because I'm fishing all the Southeastern Costa Series tournaments this year. Hopefully the next couple of tournaments go a little better. Sometimes you got to lose before you can start to win.
Friday night as I was headed to Palm City to stay with a friend I got hit by a semi truck on the hwy. Of course I was driving a rental car so I can't wait to see how they handle the insurance since the guy driving the semi truck was completely at fault. I was behind the semi truck and he was stopped to make a left turn onto the hwy that I was going to turn onto and then the guy decided that he was just going to back up in the middle of the hwy. He started to back up so fast that I couldn't react to put my car in reverse so I laid on the horn but he still didn't see that I was behind him so he just kept on going and smashed into the front of my rental car. After he hit me it was a while before he stopped probably because he didn't even know I was back there. The whole thing was a mess and I was on the side of the road dealing with police till 10:30 at night. I finally made it over to my friends house and I was lucky to still be able to drive the car.
On Saturday and Sunday I got to hang out with a friend and do some fishing on the golf-course ponds in Palm City and I was also able to catch a couple of snook. I managed to catch a bass over 5lbs out of my buddies backyard pond and a couple of snook off the dock using bass fishing gear. That was a whole lot of fun. Palm City is a beautiful town and it was tough coming back to St. Louis after spending a couple of days in the Florida sunshine.
Next weekend I'll be headed to Arkansas to fish the Mr. Bass of Arkansas tournament on Lake Hamilton. Stay tuned. Hopefully it's a better tournament than Okeechobee but we won't know till after I fish it. Until next time good fishing!