Mikey Keyso Jr. of North Port, Florida, caught a five-bass limit Saturday weighing 24 pounds, 12 ounces, to take top honors at the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee. For his efforts, Keyso earned $7,663.
Keyso spent his day fishing south of the Monkey Box targeting postspawn bass in dollar pads. He says he rotated between two areas, and used a Texas-rigged junebug-colored Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper with 3/8- and ¼-ounce weights to catch his fish.
“There was a new moon and most people focused on spawning bass,” says Keyso, who earned his second career win on Lake Okeechobee in BFL competition. “A wave of bluegill were also spawning, so I Power-Poled down and just slow-rolled my bait through the pads.”
The Florida angler said he used a Fitzgerald Fishing Bryan Thrift Series Frog Rod with 50-pound-test braid line, and estimated that he caught 45 keepers throughout the tournament.
“The water had to be a little dirty. The big ones committed to the bait in dirty water,” says Keyso. “And when they committed, they just destroyed it. It was a fun bite.”
Top 10 boaters
1st: Mikey Keyso Jr., North Port, Fla., five bass, 24-12, $5,663 + $2,000 Ranger Cup Bonus
2nd: Matthew Jerdan, Cape Coral, Fla., five bass, 22-13, $2,232
3rd: Jesus Villegas, Virginia Gardens, Fla., five bass, 20-10, $1,489
4th: Chris Crow, Lake Placid, Fla., five bass, 19-14, $1,041
5th: Mark Blevins, Palatka, Fla., five bass, 19-7, $1,633
6th: Nathan Thomas, Weirsdale, Fla., five bass, 18-15, $818
7th: Fred Chivington Jr., Welaka, Fla., five bass, 18-13, $744
8th: Greg Harp, Vero Beach, Fla., five bass, 17-11, $669
9th: Kyle Giella, Parrish, Fla., five bass, 17-5, $595
10th: George Kapiton, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 16-12, $521
Blevins weighed a 7-pound, 14-ounce bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $640.
Wiles leads co-anglers
Michael Wiles of Perry, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $2,432 Saturday after catching a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 13 ounces.
Top 10 co-anglers
1st: Michael Wiles, Perry, Fla., five bass, 19-13, $2,432
2nd: Justin Brown, Frostproof, Fla., five bass, 17-7, $1,166
3rd: Delfin Pernas, Miami, Fla., five bass, 16-8, $743
4th: Jeffrey Shaffer, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 15-14, $521
5th: Junior Iriban, Lantana, Fla., five bass, 15-11, $446
6th: Tom Jessup, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 14-8, $409
7th: Shannon Bryson, Merritt Island, Fla., five bass, 14-5, $372
8th: Bruce Greer, Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 14-2, $335
9th: Timothy Hibbs, Bradenton, Fla., five bass, 13-13, $298
10th: Jackie Barber, Cocoa, Fla., two bass, 13-9, $580
Barber caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division weighing in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $320.
The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division event on Lake Okeechobee was hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourist Development Council.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 11-13 BFL Regional Championship on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
The 2018 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. The 2018 BFL All-American will be held May 31-June 2 at Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.