Wendlandt grabs overall lead, nets third top-10 finish on Lake Okeechobee - Major League Fishing

Wendlandt grabs overall lead, nets third top-10 finish on Lake Okeechobee

Image for Wendlandt grabs overall lead, nets third top-10 finish on Lake Okeechobee
Clark Wendlandtof Cedar Park, Texas, used a two-day catch of 37 pounds, 1 ounce to grab the oveall lead in the Pro Division after day two of competition. Photo by Gary Mortenson. Angler: Clark Wendlandt.
January 23, 2003 • MLF • Archives

Caldwell fails to relinquish top spot in Co-angler Division

CLEWISTON, Fla. – As usual, it was only a matter of time before Clark Wendlandt made some noise at Lake Okeechobee. And today was that day. On the strength of a two-day catch weighing a staggering 37 pounds, 1 ounce, Wendlandt not only took charge of the leaderboard, but he also found himself among the top 10 finalists at Lake Okeechobee for the third time in five years.

“Man, I just had a great day today. I’m just ecstatic,” said Wendlandt, a resident of Cedar Park, Texas. “I had a long layoff from last season and I had a really bad practice. I can’t tell you how happy I am. Coming into this tournament, I was just hoping to make a check.”

With $751,000 in career earnings at FLW Outdoors events, 15 top-10 finishes and three FLW Tour wins to his credit, Wendlandt is clearly one of the odds-on favorites to snatch the tour title on Lake Okeechobee on Saturday.

“I don’t know what it is, I guess I just like fishing Okeechobee because it’s a really big lake and there are huge concentrations of bass,” said Wendlandt, who finished in 12th place at last year’s tournament on this same lake. “Right now I have one big area where I’m spending quite a bit of time. And so far, I haven’t really sight-fished at all. I’m just kind of mixing it up and doing some shallow-water grass fishing.”

Although a massive cold front is expected to plunge down from the north and send temperatures dropping below freezing throughout southern Florida by tomorrow, Wendlandt said he isn’t concerned.

“Actually, I feel pretty good knowing that that cold front is moving in because it’s going to make the fishing a lot tougher for everyone,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult tomorrow and it should get really tough on Saturday. But mentally, I’m really ready.”

Morgan makes huge comeback

After yesterday’s competition, Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., stood tied for 32nd place with an 11-pound, 12-ounce stringer. Morgan knew that he needed to bring in one the largest sacks of his career if he could even entertain any hope of making the top-10 cut. However, after winning the EverStart tour event at Lake Okeechobee only two weeks prior, Morgan knew that he still had some magic left. And true to his word, he pulled it off. Hauling in a whopping 25-pound, 1-ounce stringer, Morgan not only landed among the top 10, but he also managed to grab hold of second place in the process.

“I’ve been down here about three weeks now, so I was feeling pretty comfortable with this lake,” said Morgan, who turned in a two-day stringer weighing 36 pounds, 13 ounces. “And with the cold front moving in, I knew the fish would be biting today. At about 10 a.m., I already had 17 pounds in the boat. But for sure, that big old fish I caught today (a 9-pound plus largemouth) really helped me out.”

Like Wendlandt, Morgan said he is actually excited that inclement weather is descending upon Okeechobee as soon as tomorrow.

“As long as those cold fronts keep coming through, I’ll be okay,” said Morgan. “The same thing actually happened at the EverStart tournament and I obviously did very well there. So, I’m not going to stray from gameplan.”

Morgan also won the day’s Snicker’s Big Bass award after hauling the largest fish of the tournament to date – a humongous 9-pound, 15-ounce largemouth. For his efforts, Morgan received a check for $750.

Surman drops to third, but gains valuable experience in the process

Although local favorite Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla., failed to hold onto his day-one lead, he still managed to qualify for the top-10 with ease after turning in a two-day catch of 35 pounds, 6 ounces. And that was just fine with Surman.

“I knew I didn’t need a lot of fish to qualify, so I decided to just go out today and try to find some new areas,” said Surman, who won the 1996 FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee. “It feels good. But tomorrow, I’m definitely going to back to my good (day-one) spot.”

(Photo by Gary Mortenson)” BORDER=”1″ ALIGN=”right”>Pat Fisher of Buford, Ga., qualified in fourth place with a two-day catch of 33 pounds, 13 ounces, while Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., grabbed the fifth spot with an overall catch of 33 pounds, 9 ounces.

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top-10 finalists were: Todd Faircloth (sixth) of Jasper, Texas, with a two-day catch of 33 pounds, 2 ounces; Scott Dobson (seventh) of Waterford, Mich., with a catch of 31 pounds; Rock Monteith (eighth) of Columbia, S.C., with a catch of 30 pounds; Billy Bowen, Jr., (ninth) of Ocala, Fla., with a catch of 29 pounds, 13 ounces; and Rick Couch (tenth) of Ocala, Fla., with a catch of 29 pounds, 6 ounces.

Mayor still in charge of Co-angler Division

Mayor Doug Caldwell of Kane, Penn., continued his hot streak at Lake Okeechobee, maintaining the overall lead in the Co-angler Division for the second-consecutive day with a total catch of 16 pounds, 10 ounces.

“I’m tickled to death to be here, but now I’ve got to start focusing on winning the tournament,” said Caldwell, the only mayor on the tour with four top-10 finishes and one tournament title – an FLW Tour event on Lake Wheeler in 2002.

However, Caldwell admitted that, for the first time all tournament, he had a sudden case of nerves.

“Today I definitely got a little bit nervous because I knew I couldn’t afford to zero with the qualify of fishermen at this tournament,” he said. “I was really lucky today. I didn’t fish very well and I missed two fish early on. But then, I caught two fish on two casts right in a row so I was able to relax.”

Caldwell said he fished a ¼-ounce white spinner bait with a gold blade in shallow water to land the majority of his catch. However, he acknowledged that he was quite sure what technique he would use during tomorrow’s finals.

“I’ve fished two different styles with two different pros already, so it’s going to depend on what my partner (Wendlandt) is going to do tomorrow,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll everything will work out.”

Caldwell and the other nine finalists will be battling for the top prize of $15,000 in tomorrow’s competition.

Best of the rest

In second place was Alton Lackie of Germantown, Tenn., with a total catch of 15 pounds, 13 ounces. Third place belonged to Ralph Mulleins of Cumberland, Va., with a catch of 15 pounds, 2 ounces.

Frank Divis, Sr., of Fayetteville, Ark., finished the day in fourth place with a catch of 14 pounds, 15 ounces, while Sean Kelly of Greenlawn, N.Y., netted fifth place with a catch of 14 pounds, 11 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 finalists were: Frank Meyer (sixth) of Marianna, Fla., with a catch of 14 pounds, 6 ounces; Richard Lowitzki (seventh) of St. Charles, Ill., with a catch of 14 pounds, 4 ounces; William Drown (eighth) of Roseland, Fla., with a catch of 14 pounds, 1 ounce; Darrell Stevens (ninth) of Roseland, Va., with a catch of 14 pounds; and Chuck Lawless (tenth) of Park Hill, Okla., with a catch of 13 pounds, 13 ounces.

Robert Blosser of Poynette, Wisc., won the day’s big bass award in the Co-angler Division after registering a fish weighing 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Blosser, who finished the tournament in 44th place, won $500 for his efforts.

Tomorrow’s takeoff is scheduled to take place at 7 a.m. at Roland Martin’s Marina, located at 920 E. Del Monte Avenue in Clewiston, Fla.

Related links:

Results of day-two pairings
Day-three pairings
Quick Bites: Lake Okeechobee, Day 2
Press releases