Mizell stays ahead, Campbell blasts 31 on Day 2 at Okeechobee - Major League Fishing

Mizell stays ahead, Campbell blasts 31 on Day 2 at Okeechobee

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Another 24 pounds kept Jessie Mizell on top, but Okechobee popped off for the rest of the field as well. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Jessie Mizell.
January 26, 2024 • Jody White • Toyota Series

CLEWISTON, Fla. – The  Lake Okeechobee we know and love was a lot more present on Day 2 of the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats Southern Division opener than on Day 1. Yesterday, seven pros crossed the 20-pound mark – but today, 16 pros knocked out bags over 20 pounds. Plus, budding superstar Brody Campbell blasted 31-3 to move within 2 pounds of Jessie Mizell, who backed up his Day 1 with another 24-4 to lead with 48-12.

Leading on the Strike King co-angler side, David Honsted followed up Day 1 with a limit for 9-10 to bring his total to 33-6, which puts him ahead of a very tight co-angler race.

A slow morning didn’t hold Jessie Mizell back at weigh-in. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

Mizell stays in the driver’s seat

You might think that weighing 24 pounds on back-to-back days would give Mizell a big lead, but he’s really less than a bass ahead of Campbell. Still, Mizell is one of the best anglers on Okeechobee, and so far, he’s looking very comfortable on his home pond despite a slightly slow Day 2.

“It definitely was slow going,” he said. “I’m old school, I pay attention to the moon and stuff. As I was running across the lake, I was watching the moon fall to the horizon, and I thought they were going to bite. Generally, on a falling moon like that, they bite. I think that’s what happened when I first got there – I got a couple bites, and then it shut down until like 11.”

When his fish started to bite again, Mizell took advantage.

“When they started to bite, I Power-Poled down and I caught four good fish in one spot,” he said. “Then, I caught a couple more, and I got away from that spot for tomorrow.”

Throwing a frog (Mizell is a frog master) and a vibrating jig, Mizell thinks a spawning wave may have slowed his bite. Going into the final day, he’s cautiously optimistic.

“I know there are spawners, and I’m hoping the reason we didn’t get bit today was because they were concentrating on doing their thing – them trying to spawn and not wanting to do anything,” he said. “Normally, after a day of that, they’ll start feeding. I’m hoping tomorrow they’ll be wanting to chew and looking for a big meal like a frog or a jig or a ChatterBait.

“It’s either going to go really, really good, or go south. Either it’s going to pop off big time, and they’ll chew like crazy, or it won’t be a good deal. I’m not worried about anybody else, I’m just going fishing. When you stress out, you get spun out.”

Brody Campbell (right) blasted a dirty 30 to move from 17th to second on Day 2. Photo by Rob Matsuura.

Campbell crushes on Day 2

Back in December, Campbell quit his job to take a shot at fishing full time. A rookie this year on the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, the young Ohioan is coming off an incredible year, during which he banked nine Top-10 finishes with MLF, and it looks like he’s going to keep the ball rolling.

Catching 16-2 on Day 1 put him in position, and he unloaded the wagon today.

“It was a miracle that I had that small of a bag in my area,” Campbell said of his opening day. “I caught like 35 keepers, I just didn’t get any big ones. The big ones bit today – I had all 3 ¼-pounders on Day 1, which is probably hard to do in Florida.”

Done by about 11 a.m., Campbell sounds dialed and confident – nothing new for him.

“I’m catching spawning fish, or most of them are spawning,” he said. “It’s a pretty big area, and there are a lot of fish and a lot of boats. Around the corner from me, there’s like 50 boats piled in together. I’m in a little backwater bay with like 10 boats. I think they were staging in that big bay, but they came in to spawn where I am.

“I’m just throwing a wacky worm, and I’ve caught a few here and there on a ChatterBait,” he said. “But, I caught a 31-pound bag on a spin pole today.”

Though he has a few winter vacation trips to Florida under his belt from years past, Campbell is competing on the Big O for basically the first time. His first two days have proven that it is hard to count your chickens in the Sunshine State, but he has high hopes for the final day.

“I’m feeling really good about my area; there are a lot of fish in there and I laid off,” he said. “I can almost guarantee a limit, I just don’t know the size. It could be 12 pounds, or it could be 30 pounds again if the big ones bite. It’s just the luck of the draw catching those 6- or 7-pounders.”

Top 10 pros

1. Jessie Mizell – 48 – 12 (10)

2. Brody Campbell – 47 – 5 (10)        

3. Benny Townend – 40 – 13 (10)         

4. Kyle Wieczorek – 39 – 11 (10)           

5. Rafe Sexton – 39 – 6 (10) 

6. Flint Davis – 39 – 2 (10)     

7. Christian Greico – 38 – 9 (10)       

8. Brandon Tallhamer – 38 – 9 (10) 

9. Robert Camp – 37 – 6 (10)               

10. Michael Venditto – 37 – 5 (10)   

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