CLEWISTON, Fla. – Mike Keyso Jr. of North Port, Fla., weighed a five-bass totaling 24 pounds, 14 ounces Saturday to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division tournament of 2014 on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Keyso earned $6,000.
Keyso rode the time-tested combination of a big weight and a Gambler BB Cricket to a winning margin of more than two pounds on a stingy, post-frontal Okeechobee.
“I’ve worked hard at it and I’m pretty excited about it,” said Keyso about his first BFL victory. “It’s amazing when everything is meant to be – it all works itself out. I’m very blessed to have won. To win against so many guys who are so good in Florida is a great accomplishment for me.
“There was a ton of boat traffic in the area I started out at,” said Keyso. “I stuck it out through the boats but somewhere around 11 o’clock I decided to make a move and downsize baits.”
That 11 a.m. adjustment was what propelled him into the winner’s circle over the field of 201 seasoned bass anglers.
“Slowing way down and thoroughly punching through where the green hyacinths met the dead hyacinths was the exact key, and I’m 100 percent sure that’s why I won the tournament,” continued Keyso. “I had it figured out, everywhere I fished. There had to be dead hyacinths and green hyacinths pushed together and that’s where the big girls were at.
“I didn’t think I had a shot at the top five,” finished Keyso. “I’d been fishing out there the past few weeks and catching 30- to 35-pound bags. I knew it was a tough day but I didn’t think it was that tough. That front that came through shut everything down and you had to really slow down and downsize baits. All the guys around me were going way too fast. I don’t think they were getting the bites I was just because I had slowed down so much.”
Keyso said he started the day flipping a Gambler Crawdaddy on a 2-ounce weight and switched to a Gambler BB Cricket with a 1.5-ounce weight to catch his big fish in the afternoon.
Rounding out the top 10 pros:
2nd: Richard Held, Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 22-5, $3,000
3rd: Timothy Feller, Coral Springs, Fla., five bass, 21-9, $2,000 + $300 Evinrude Bonus
4th: Danny Shelton, Davie, Fla., five bass, 20-3, $1,400
5th: Jeff Ledroux, Tamarac, Fla., five bass, 19-14, $1,200
6th: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 19-2, $1,100
7th: Dan Blanchard, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 19-0, $1,000
8th: Jim Hurlock Jr., Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 18-14, $900
9th: Juan Ruiz, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 18-13, $800
10th: Val Osinski, Pompano Beach, Fla., five bass, 18-12, $700
Complete results can be found here.
Campbell bests co-anglers
Luke Campbell of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., weighed in a five-bass limit totaling 21 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday to win $3,000 in the co-angler division. Campbell said his fish fell to a Snag Proof frog and a Gambler Big EZ fished on a Fitzgerald Rod with a Shimano reel.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:
2nd: Derek Petruzelli, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 20-3, $1,500
3rd: Brad McCullough, Ocala, Fla., five bass, 15-10, $1,000
4th: Skip Reed, Coral Springs, Fla., five bass, 15-8, $700
5th: Joe Edwards Jr., Orlando, Fla., five bass, 15-5, $600
6th: Jonathan Semento, Okahumpka, Fla., five bass, 15-1, $550
7th: Daniel Bracho, Doral, Fla., five bass, 13-15, $475
7th: Larry Lawson, Ruskin, Fla., five bass, 13-15, $475
9th: Lee Frye, Brooksville, Fla., five bass, 13-14, $400
10th: Mike Bell, Vero Beach, Fla., five bass, 13-7, $332
10th: Josh Roller, Boca Raton, Fla., four bass, 13-7, $332
Complete co-angler results can be found here.
The top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 2-4 Regional Championship on the St. John’s River in Palatka, Fla. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy. The 2014 BFL All-American is being held June 5-7 on Wilson Lake in Florence, Ala. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the Rayovac FLW Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.
FLW is the industry’s premier tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money nationwide in 2013 over the course of 220 tournaments across five tournament circuits, four of which provide an avenue to the sport’s richest payday and most coveted championship trophy – the Forrest Wood Cup. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world. FLW is committed to providing a lifestyle experience that is the “Best in Fishing, On and Off the Water.” For more information about FLW visit FLWOutdoors.com and look for FLW on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.