McMillan takes charge at Big O - Major League Fishing

McMillan takes charge at Big O

Local makes big move at Okeechobee fishfest in Stren Series opener
Image for McMillan takes charge at Big O
Pro leader Jimmy McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla., with his day-two 10-pound trophy bass. Photo by Rob Newell. Angler: Jimmy McMillan.
January 5, 2006 • Rob Newell • Archives

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – In most multiday bass tournaments, the overall day-two catch normally falls off from the first day’s catch.

But that was not the case in the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Lake Okeechobee. On Thursday, both pros and co-anglers caught even more fish and weight than what was accumulated at yesterday’s prolific weigh-in.

One of those pros catching more today – substantially more, in fact – was local angler Jimmy McMillan of Belle Glade, Fla.

After catching 14 pounds yesterday, McMillan sacked up an impressive 21 pounds, 14 ounces today and his five-bass limit included a 10-pounder, which earned him big-bass honors of the day. McMillan now leads the event with 35 pounds, 14 ounces.

Each day, the local pro has started his morning by fishing a Rat-L-Trap for smaller fish. Once he gets an 8- to 10-pound limit in the livewell, he pulls out the flipping stick and goes to work for a big bite.

Today his plan worked like a charm. After securing about 10 pounds, he moved to his big-fish area and started flipping a Gambler Craw on a 1 1/2 ounce weight. At about 1 p.m. he added the 10-pounder to his creel.

“That big one really took the pressure off,” McMillan said. “Up until that point, I kept playing math games in my head trying to figure out what I needed to make the cut. When I got her in the boat, I didn’t have to do any more math.”

Little holds on to second

Timothy Little of Acworth, Ga., added 12 pounds, 9 ounces to his catch of 20 pounds, 14 ounces from yesterday to stay in second with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 7 ounces.

Little took it easy on his best places today.

“I moved around a little more today and tried some different things,” he said. “These fish are moving and changing every day. I’ve really had to try a lot of different things each day before I get comfortable with any one technique. Today, that happened to be a spinnerbait. When the wind got up this afternoon, the spinnerbait seemed to work best.”

Ashley let them rest

Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., could be the one to watch over the next two days. After sacking the leading stringer Wednesday, he purposely avoided his primary spot today. He is now in third with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 1 ounce.

“I didn’t even go down there today,” Ashley said of his fish down south. “I stayed up in Moonshine Bay all day, got five and got my partner five.”

Ashley, however, is confident that his primary area will hold up for the next two days.

“I found these fish with a friend of mine from South Carolina,” he said. “He didn’t go down there the first day and I did. Today he went down there and caught 16 pounds pretty quick, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Ashley is also very grateful for the helpful folks at Northlake Marine who are allowing him to use a boat tomorrow.

“My motor is torn up,” Ashley said. “That’s another reason I stayed up this way today: I knew my motor wouldn’t make it down there and back again. I went up to Northlake Marine this afternoon and told them my situation. Those are some really nice folks. They’ve never met me before, and they’re letting me use one of their fully rigged boats. I just can’t thank them enough.”

Thrift fourth

While it may look like Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., let his fish cool off today – sacking just 11 pounds, 7 ounces after bringing in 19 pounds, 6 ounces yesterday – Thrift says he was fishing for everything he could get.

“I did all I could to catch more today,” said Thrift, who sits in fourth place with a two-day total of 30 pounds, 13 ounces. “My area kind of gave out. I didn’t catch near as many fish, so it could get really tough on me tomorrow.”

Oligschlaeger fifth

Pro Lance Oligschlaeger of La Vergne, Tenn., made his move into fifth place with a two-day total of  30-13.Lance Oligschlaeger of La Vergne, Tenn., has been steadily chipping away at the Big O.

Yesterday he weighed in 14 pounds, 3 ounces and today he bettered that with 16 pounds, 10 ounces to take fifth with a two-day total of 30-13.

Oligschlaeger’s original game plan was to flip on Okeechobee. He caught one big fish that way yesterday, and then his flipping bite dried up.

“I made an adjustment late yesterday and started casting a worm,” he said. “I got a lot more bites doing that. I think the fish are starting to move out from the mats into open water to spawn. I cast a worm most of the day today and caught three decent fish that way.

“If it gets cold like they say it’s supposed to, these fish will probably move back under the mats, so I’m ready to go back to flipping over the next couple of days.”

Rest of the bestPro Bryan Hudgins of Orange Park, Fla., is in sixth with a two-day total of 30-2.

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series Southeast on Lake Okeechobee:

6th: Bryan Hudgins of Orange Park, Fla., 30-2

7th: Tony Couch of Buckhead, Ga., 29-14

8th: Roger Crafton of Boca Grande, Fla., 27-11

9th: Rick Ankenbauer of Clearwater, Fla., 27-0

10th: Arnie Lane of Lakeland, Fla., 26-6

Rodrigue still leads co-anglers

In the Co-angler Division, Brad Rodrigue of Pierre Part, La., defended his day-one lead by bringing 7 pounds, 12 ounces to the scales for a two-day total of 24 pounds, 13 ounces.

Co-angler Jason Luszcak of Palos Hills, Ill., holds up an 8-6 and a 7-5, which propelled him into second place with a two-day total of 24-8.Making the big move in the Co-angler Division was Jason Luszcak of Palos Hills, Ill. Luszcak brought in four fish weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces to move from 50th place to second with a two-day total of 24 pounds, 8 ounces.

Luszcak’s bag included an 8-5, which bit a spinnerbait, and a 7-5, which fell victim to a Senko.

Lance Henderson of Fort Ogden, Fla., is in third place with a two-day total of 24 pounds, 5 ounces.

Mark Linn of Sarasota, Fla., is in fourth place with a two-day total of 21 pounds, 1 ounce.

Tom Ridley of Valdosta, Ga., is in fifth place with a two-day total of 19 pounds, 3 ounces.

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the Stren Series Southeast on Lake Okeechobee:

6th: Jerry Lamb of Mims, Fla., 18-10

7th: Skip Reed of Coral Springs, Fla., 18-9

8th: Gary Collins of Russell Springs, Ky., 18-6

9th: Dennis Andersen of Wellington, Fla., 18-1

10th: Brian England of Lafayette, Ga., 18-0

Competition resumes Friday at 7:30 a.m. from Okee-Tantie Park. Pros and Co-anglers will start from zero and the top 10 pros and 10 co-anglers after Friday’s weigh-in will advance to fish Saturday.