Wal-Mart FLW Tour
Lake Okeechobee, Clewiston, Fla.
Final round, Friday
Big O blowout … The first day of final-round FLW Tour action on Lake Okeechobee proved to be a blowout in more ways than one. Only three pros pulled in respectable catch weights today. Two other weighed in a single fish apiece while half of the top 10 zeroed. But it was not a curse that plagued finalists on the “Big O,” famous for its fine sacks of big fish; it was a fierce wind ripping across the massive lake that was to blame. Pros Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., and Rick Couch of Ocala, Fla., bucked blustery conditions on the Big O to effectively blow away most of their competitors. They ended the day with equal weight, each having pulled in five-fish limits weighing 12 pounds, 11 ounces. Pat Fisher of Buford, Ga., lived up to his name by hauling in four bass for a total weight of 10-6. Dayton, Tennessee’s Andy Morgan – who hauled in an immense sack of bass Thursday – and Ocala, Florida’s Billy Bowen Jr. – an angler who has dominated many local bass tournaments – each were able to register a single fish. But most of the top 10 pros simply couldn’t compete with Mother Nature today.
Shootin’ the breeze … Several of the top 10 pro anglers said their prime fishing spots on Lake Okeechobee had literally blown away, leaving many in search of new strategies on day three. Searching for bass beneath mats of vegetation on the lake had been a popular method of reeling in keepers over the first two days of the tournament. “My area blew away,” said Scott Dobson of Waterford, Mich. “All my water had blown down to the south end (of the lake).” Pro Mike Surman of Boca Raton, Fla., reeled in the fourth-largest stringer in FLW Tour history on Wednesday, but he couldn’t catch a keeper today. He said of arriving at his primary destination this morning, “The whole island, the whole mat … everything was gone.” Like the others, pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., saw his chances of catching a good sack of bass get swept away today. “A lot of my stuff had blown away … it didn’t even exist anymore,” he said. And yesterday’s leader, pro Clark Wendlandt of Cedar Park, Texas, didn’t fair any better. “Everything I had been fishing was gone – the vegetation, everything,” Wendlandt said.
11: number of pro (five) and co-angler (six) finalists who got skunked on day three.
2: number of five-bass limits caught by pro (two) and co-angler (zero) finalists on day three.
20: total number of fish caught by pro (16) and co-angler (4) finalists on day three.
“Anyone who caught a fish there today – I’ve got to hand it to them. I’ve never seen anything like it out there before.”
– Co-angler Richard Lowitzki of St. Charles, Ill., describing the effect today’s windy fishing conditions had on FLW Tour anglers.
“This is one of the toughest rides I’ve ever, ever had.”
– Co-angler Frank Divis Sr. describing a wind-whipped day of boating on the Big O.
“I know the rest of the guys, they can sleep in tomorrow.”
– Pro Billy Bowen Jr. exuding confidence about how he will perform on the final day of FLW Tour action.
“Don’t say you learned a lot when you come back from one of these (FLW Tour tournaments). Say you earned a lot.”
– Dobson reciting what has become a common comment from his wife upon returning from the tournament trail.
“That’s the smell of money right there.”
– Pro Dan Morehead of Paducah, Ky., currently in first place, after reeling in a bass during day three. He added at the weigh-in, “(My wife) doesn’t complain anymore when I smell like fish when I come home.”
Quick links, Day 1: