OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – Joshua Morfis of Cape Coral, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 34 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the fourth Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2015 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Morfis earned $6,336.
“It feels great to win a tournament,” said Morfis. “I love fishing on Lake Okeechobee and to see all of my hard work finally pay off is really nice.”
Morfis said that he headed 35 miles south to his first spot where he targeted fish that were moving in shallow to spawn.
“I flipped the Kissimmee grass and bulrushes where the fish were sitting in 4 to 5 feet of water,” Morfis said. “I used a green pumpkin-colored Gambler Ugly Otter with a black and blue-colored Eco Pro Honey Badger Punch Skirt.
“On my third cast I caught a 9-pound fish,” Morfis continued. “After that the bite slowed down.”
After filling out his five-bass limit with smaller fish, Morfis said that he knew he’d need more weight to win. He decided to make a move to his second spot where he stuck an 8-pounder shortly after arriving.
“Five minutes after the 8-pounder, I caught a 7-pound fish and then a 6-pounder just ten minutes later,” Morfis said. “I got eight big bites in the second spot and put seven of them in the boat.”
Morfis went on to say he caught approximately 25 to 30 fish during the course of the tournament.
“The key for me was stumbling on those prespawn fish while searching for the postspawn fish,” Morfis said. “I knew my two spots I targeted had the potential to produce a top-10 finish so I put my hat down, grinded it out and it worked out for me.”
The top 10 boaters:
1st: Joshua Morfis, Cape Coral, Fla., five bass, 34-14, $5,336 + $1,000 Mercury Bonus
2nd: Donny Bass, Naples, Fla., five bass, 28-3, $2,668
3rd: Justin Morgan, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 25-9, $1,780
4th: Greg Hughes, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 23-15, $1,245
5th: Terry Oliver, Belleview, Fla., five bass, 21-9, $1,067
6th: Anthony Ford, New Smyrna, Fla., five bass, 21-2, $978
7th: Buck Durrance, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 21-1, $844
7th: Jeremy Hobson, Plant City, Fla., five bass, 21-1, $844
9th: Mark Lundgren, Cocoa, Fla., five bass, 20-7, $712
10th: Bruce Carter, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 20-4, $591
10th: Fred George, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 20-4, $591
Complete results can be found here.
Hunter Abowd of Clewiston, Florida, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division – a monster weighing 11 pounds, 10 ounces – and earned the day’s Big Bass award of $840.
Rudolph wins co-angler title
The top 10 co-anglers:
1st: Jessey Rudolph, Deltona, Fla., five bass, 21-8, $2,668
2nd: Phillip Ford, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 17-10, $1,334
3rd: Scott Kirsch, Edgewater, Fla., five bass, 17-3, $888
4th: Jose Luis Gallardo, Belle Glade, Fla., five bass, 15-12, $623
5th: Nick Ahearn, Tampa, Fla., five bass, 15-9, $534
6th: Albert Winter, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 15-2, $489
7th: Robert Branagh, Palm Bay, Fla., five bass, 15-1, $422
7th: Brian Cole, Sebastian, Fla., five bass, 15-1, $422
9th: Jeff Peterson, Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 14-7, $356
10th: Joshua Kelting, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 14-5, $311
Ahearn caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division and earned the day’s Big Bass award of $420.
The top 50 boaters and 50 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 8-10 Regional Championship on Lake Sinclair in Milledgeville, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.