David Anderson of Fort Myers, Florida, caught five bass Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 1 ounce, to win the 2019 T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division opener on Lake Okeechobee. For his win, Anderson earned $4,479.
Anderson says he spent his day on the north end of the lake fishing the outside of the Kissimmee grass and dragging baits through beds.
“I was pretty much around bedding fish – they were either coming in or going out,” says Anderson, who earned his first career win in FLW competition. “I worked the outside before I went into the middle ground. It rained a little bit and was windy and cold, so the weather made me go to the middle ground instead of me cutting off the fish as they came and went. It was so windy that I had to primarily concentrate on fish that were bedding.”
He says his two key dragging baits were a black and blue Gambler Fat Ace with a 3/8-ounce Flat Out Tungstens weight on 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line and a black and blue Bass Addiction Gear Boss Craw with a ½-ounce weight on 50-pound Goat Rope braided line.
“I was fishing blind with both baits, just dragging them through beds. I used the lighter bait when there wasn’t much wind,” says Anderson.
Anderson says he caught his fish almost entirely in the afternoon, citing his 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Reaper rod as especially helpful in feeling the bites.
“My Reaper let me feel those critical sensitive bites, which is important when you’re fishing blind. The fish only pick the bait up and move it for a few seconds, and I needed to be able to feel that in the wind.”
Top 10 boaters
1st: David Anderson, Fort Myers, Fla., five bass, 18-1, $4,479
2nd: Larry Cahan, East Palatka, Fla., five bass, 17-13, $2,140
3rd: Brian MacDougal, La Belle, Fla., five bass, 16-1, $1,426
4th: Chuck Webb, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 15-6, $998
5th: William Schmitt, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 15-0, $856
6th: Sandy Melvin, Boca Grande, Fla., five bass, 14-8, $785
7th: Timothy Feller, Coral Springs, Fla., five bass, 14-0, $713
8th: Mark Lundgren, Saint Cloud, Fla., five bass, 13-7, $642
9th: Ben Cox, Andrews, S.C., five bass, 12-14, $571
10th: Jody Gardner, Tippecanoe, Ohio, five bass, 12-11, $599
Rodney Marks of Apopka, Florida, caught a 9-pound, 3-ounce bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $605.
Hibbs tops co-anglers with just four
Timothy Hibbs of Bradenton, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $2,140 Saturday after catching four bass weighing 14 pounds, 15 ounces.
Top 10 co-anglers
1st: Timothy Hibbs, Bradenton, Fla., four bass, 14-15, $2,140
2nd: Ernie Johnson, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 13-7, $1,170
3rd: Mitch Avant, Johnsonville, S.C., five bass, 12-6, $712
4th: Matthew May, North Fort Myers, Fla., four bass, 12-0, $549
5th: Brandon St. Pierre, Lehigh Acres, Fla., five bass, 11-10, $428
6th: Randy Paquette, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 10-7, $392
7th: Wayman Mobley, Miami, Fla., five bass, 9-11, $339
7th: Kenneth Hunnicutt, Jacksonville, Fla., five bass, 9-11, $339
9th: Tony Kromke, La Crosse, Wis., three bass, 9-10, $267
9th: Chris Mitchell, Cocoa, Fla., five bass, 9-10, $267
Charles Kilgore of Titusville, Florida, caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 5 pounds, 8 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $302.
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. 10-12 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard.
The 2019 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 2019 BFL All-American will be held May 30-June 1 at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland, and is hosted by the Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the Commissioners of Charles County. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.