In his fourth year as a pro in the Costa FLW Series, Nick Thliveros is one day away from putting his hands on his first title trophy from the front of the boat. Thliveros caught 15 pounds, 14 ounces yesterday to open the tournament in second and bettered that with 19-4 today to put him in the lead by 4-7 in the Southeastern Division event presented by Power-Pole on Lake Okeechobee.
While many pros have been waiting out a kicker bite late in the day, Thliveros takes advantage early.
“The first keeper I caught yesterday was a 5-12,” says Thliveros. “My first fish today was a 6-pounder. I had six fish hooked today and landed five of them. I’m not getting many bites, but when I do get bit it’s a good one. These fish are big and fat and want to pull up [to spawn]. I’m just worried the lake is going to turn on, and I don’t know if what I’m doing could keep up if that happens.”
There are definitely signs the females want to spawn. Throughout weigh-in most of the big fish were clean with white bellies – a sign that they are new to the shallow water where they’ll spawn.
Having experience on Okeechobee has helped Thliveros to a degree, but he’s mostly focused on playing the hand that was dealt.
“With the lake in the condition it’s in and fishing a lot smaller I wanted to find a place with consistent water,” says the St. Augustine, Fla., pro. “I’m actually catching my fish in the same area I caught fish last year. I’m expanding and running new water in the area looking for specific stuff that fits the pattern. I can catch some fish off the same stretch, but I’m just expanding on what my previous knowledge of the area is.”
With a tight race among the top pros it’s fair that Thliveros is reluctant to give up too much about his pattern. Though, he is dialed enough to only need one rod tomorrow.
“I’ll have two rods on the deck tomorrow,” Thliveros says. “Well, I’ll have one in my hand and another on the deck that’s rigged with the exact same bait as a backup.
“I know there are fish pulling up. The weather is getting right,” he says. “I know what I should be looking for to catch those fish, and I do have a backup plan for tomorrow, but I really hope I don’t have to do it.”
Top 10 pros:
1. Nick Thliveros – St. Augustine, Fla. – 35-2 (10)
2. Lance Oligschlaeger – Gallatin, Tenn. – 30-11 (9)
3. Cody Nichols – Fayette, Ala. – 30-0 (10)
4. Brett Preuett – Monroe, La. – 27-6 (9)
5. David Parsons – Dothan, Ala. – 26-7 (10)
6. Sandy Melvin – Boca Grande, Fla. – 26-5 (10)
7. Bryan New – Belmont, N.C. – 24-14 (10)
8. Jason Abram – Piney Flats, Tenn. – 24-12 (10)
9. Val Osinski – Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – 24-9 (10)
10. Billy Hall – Greenback, Tenn. – 24-5 (10)
Scherr consistent for co-angler lead
Like Thliveros, co-angler Todd Scherr of Coral Springs, Fla., is in position to earn his first win tomorrow.
Scherr caught 12-9 on day one and added another 12-8 today to bring his total to 25-1 and give him a 2-2 lead going into the final day.
“I live an hour from Okeechobee, so I fish it a fair amount,” says Scherr. “I haven’t fished it for fourth months before this, but I know what to do when you’re on this lake. From there, it’s a matter of who you draw.”
Lucky for him, pros and co-anglers are paired by standings on the final day, so Scherr will get to fish with Thliveros as they both chase a title.
Top 10 co-anglers:
1. Todd Scherr – Coral Springs, Fla. – 25-1 (10)
2. Kyle Gelles – Pingree, Idaho – 22-15 (9)
3. Don Lewis – Jacksonville, Fla. – 20-6 (7)
4. Andy Niles – Ocean Springs, Miss. – 18-9 (5)
5. James Hatch – Gainesville, Fla. – 18-2 (6)
6. Rodney Tapp – North Augusta, S.C. – 18-1 (10)
7. Darin Mitchell – Rutledge, Ga. – 18-0 (8)
8. Bryan Ray – Lake Leelanau, Mich. – 17-15 (10)
9. Calvin Clutterbuck – Conway, S.C. – 17-14 (8)
10. Josh Driver – Hiram, Ga. – 17-14 (10)