CLEWISTON, Fla. – The great Lake Okeechobee cool-down continued Friday as temperatures dropped to levels not seen in the area in several years. Temperatures hovered just above freezing as the remaining 10 pros and 10 co-anglers took off for another day of fishing, quite a contrast to Wednesday and Thursday’s mild morning temperatures.
A warm, sunny opening day produced several limits in excess of 20 pounds, and despite high winds and temperatures that dropped steadily during the day Thursday, anglers continued to haul fat sacks to the scale.
But the combination of Thursday’s falling temperatures and a drop below the freezing point after midnight has caused the water to dip below the magic 60-degree mark. According to day-one leader Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla., Okeechobee bass often become listless and reluctant to bite when the water gets below 60. The remaining 10 pros and 10 co-anglers put on their warmest jackets as well as their thinking caps in order to figure out the chilly lake in search of their share of a $500,000 purse.
Cool, windy weather plagued the recent EverStart Series event on Lake Okeechobee, and anglers who fished that event or who practiced during that cold front may find themselves at an advantage, as their hot spots were found during similar weather conditions. Several anglers, however, including day-two leader Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, maintain that it’s the technique, not the area fished, that will determine the eventual winner.
Temperatures are expected to rise about 10 degrees for Saturday’s final round, but the slight warm-up will likely come too late to benefit the final 10 anglers.
Co-angler competition wraps up today, with the winner taking home a $15,000 cash prize. Pro Division anglers will continue their competition Saturday, with Friday’s weights carrying over and finishing order determined by their two-day catch. This format marks a change from FLW Tour events in the past, where 20 anglers competed Friday for one day, and the top 10 anglers advanced to Saturday’s final round and fished for the heaviest one-day weight.
Sunrise: 7:12 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 33 degrees
Expected high temperature: 54 degrees
Water temperature: 57 degrees
Wind: From the northwest at 13 mph, gusting to 22 mph
Relative humidity: 56 percent
Day’s outlook: Mostly sunny