Gonzalez blasts 26-2 on final day for Strike King co-angler title - Major League Fishing

Gonzalez blasts 26-2 on final day for Strike King co-angler title

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Casey Gonzalez dropped the hammer on the final day. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Casey Gonzalez.
January 27, 2024 • Jody White • Toyota Series

CLEWISTON, Fla. – Going into the final day, Strike King co-angler Casey Gonzalez was in 11th place at the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. More than 6 pounds back of the leader, Gonzalez wasn’t planning on winning – he mostly wanted to move up to a trophy spot. But, knocking out 26 pounds, 2 ounces on the final day rocketed him to the win with 53-1, and he’s now taking home a trophy, plus a new Phoenix bass boat and cash.

“I really just wanted to move up and get a trophy, but now I get the trophy and a big check to hang on the wall,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve never won a boat before, it feels magical. My head is spinning, I can’t keep the smile off my face.”

A Florida local, Gonzalez was in his comfort zone all week.

“For us non-boaters, it is luck of the draw for the most part,” he said. “You hope you get with somebody that is on a lot of fish, and you can collect some of those fish. But, you also need to know what is best for that area and be able to read what is going on.

“The first day, I had a great boater, Terry Segraves, and we went junk fishing,” Gonzalez said. “I just happened to get some great bites and they were good fish – I only had five fish, but they happened to be the right bites. The second day, I drew one of my friends, Eric Panzironi, and we went to some good places and the fish just weren’t there.”

Today’s win at Okeechobee is the first with MLF for Casey Gonzalez. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

On Day 3, fishing with Anthony Ford, things got real right off the rip for Gonzalez.

“Today, the second cast, I caught my biggest bass of the day,” he said. “My third cast, I caught one that was 3 ½ pounds, I probably had 22 pounds by 9:30. On my last cast, I caught a 6-pounder, which really vaulted me to win today.”

As for baits, Gonzalez stuck with Florida staples.

“I used the same baits all weekend pretty much,” he said. “I was using a Bruiser Baits SpadeSpeed Worm in black with a blue tail and a Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait JackHammer in golden shiner with a custom trailer made by Zion Dunaway.”

On stage, Gonzalez offered effusive praise for his boaters after a great week of fishing.

“My mom and my wife and my friends are my biggest supporters, I love them to death,” he said. “And I want to thank the boaters I had, I can’t thank them enough for helping me out.”

Top 10 Strike King co-anglers

1. Casey Gonzalez – 53 – 1 (13) – $34,000

2. Brady Lunsmann – 50 – 6 (13) – $5,375

3. Stephen Draghi – 49 – 5 (15) – $4,300

4. David Honsted – 47 – 11 (14) – $3,800

5. Cooper Jett – 45 – 1 (15) – $3,150

6. David Archibald – 43 – 8 (15) – $2,800

7. Michael Duarte – 42 – 8 (13) – $2,150

8. Alex Dempsey – 41 – 10 (15) – $1,825

9. Keith Honeycutt – 41 – 5 (15) – $1,530

10. Fernando Rosa – 41 – 0 (15) – $1,290

Complete results