Lake Okeechobee was stingy at best when it came to showing off the caliber of bass that lurk in it during the season-opening event of the Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division presented by Power-Pole and hosted by Okeechobee County Tourism. Despite having what locals thought were prime conditions for a smashfest, Saturday’s competition wasn’t as eventful as anticipated. Nevertheless, Jason Lambert defended his day-two lead after grinding out a 12-pound, 12-ounce limit to claim the title and $60,000 payday.
Conventional wisdom leading up to this event led to thinking that flipping would hands down be the winning tactic to pull sluggish fish from thick cover. Florida’s Glenn Browne ran with that theory – along with numerous others in the top 10 – and found himself in contention to win on the final day.
In the end, it was Lambert’s power-fishing strategy that would prevail with a three-day total of 44-12, beating out Browne by a mere 1-8.
Lambert and Browne were without a doubt the most consistent all week – at times even shared the same water – yet neither could connect with multiple big bites.
“I’m just more comfortable throwing a moving bait,” says Lambert. “I’m a power fisherman. That’s what I do out on the ledges and that’s what I love to do around grass. I just feel like when I can get bit on a moving bait I’ll eventually connect with a big bite.”
For the Pickwick Dam, Tenn., pro the game plan this week was all about putting the bait in front of as many fish as possible.
“I found an area that had some good grass in it where it seemed like the fish were staging to go spawn,” recalls Lambert, who notched his first Costa FLW Series victory. “I could get at least 12 to 15 keepers a day but only one big bite. The weather definitely didn’t help things this week.”
A 500-yard stretch of grass is the staging area Lambert committed to near the north shore area. Clean water, hydrilla and depth were all factors Lambert was looking for.
“I wanted to find deeper hydrilla where it didn’t come all the way to the surface,” Lambert explains. “Once I found that I was able to use the new Garmin side imaging transducer on my trolling motor which reads at speeds down to .1 mile per hour. That way I could see the grass line on my Garmin and stay off the edge without disturbing it. It’s a pretty cool deal.”
For the tackle side of things Lambert stuck with three Florida favorites. He threw a Zoom Ultravibe Speed Worm, a spinnerbait and vibrating jig depending on how tall the grass was. He paired all three with a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy Duckett Micro Magic rod, a 6.3:1 gear ratio Duckett RB360 reel and 20-pound Vicious fluorocarbon.
For Lambert, this victory will not only hopefully help set the tone for the Walmart FLW Tour season but also take a little weight off his shoulders.
“This win definitely takes some pressure off me for the season,” Lambert says. “Obviously, I want to make to the Forrest Wood Cup on Wheeler Lake. The good thing about this win is that with a check like this in the bank I can relax a bit and just go fishing. Hopefully I can keep this momentum rolling here in a few weeks for the Tour event.”
Top 10 pros
1. Jason Lambert – Pickwick Dam, Tenn. – 44-12 (15) – $60,000 and a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower outboard
2. Glenn Browne – Ocala, Fla. – 43-04 (15) – $25,500
3. Joseph Kremer – Osteen, Fla. – 40-14 (15) – $17,000
4. Bryan Honnerlaw – Moore Haven, Fla. – 39-00 (15) – $15,000
5. Justin Morgan – Okeechobee, Fla. – 37-00 (11) – $14,000
6. Peter Cherkas – Des Moines, Iowa – 36-3 (15) – $10,500
7. Jimmy Brewer – Marshall, Texas – 35-09 (15) – $9,000
8. Steve “Boogie” Brown – Altamonte Springs, Fla. – 34-07 (13) – $8,000
9. Pat Fisher – Colbert, Ga. – 31-04 (13) – $7,000
10. Cole Bailey – Thamesford, Ontario – 30-12 (10) – $5,000
For complete results, click here.
See photos for the final day weigh-in.
Day 3 photos from the water.