KISSIMMEE, Fla. – The PDS Equipment team, represented by Steve Weist, Christian Bellomo and Trevor Bates, brought a three-bass limit totaling 17 pounds, 3 ounces to the stage to win the 2023 ICAST Cup at Lake Toho Presented by Major League Fishing Tuesday. The four-hour bass-fishing tournament, hosted by Kissimmee Sports, was the kick-off event to ICAST 2023 and raised a total of $9,200 to benefit the industry’s angler advocacy program, Keep America Fishing™.
The field totaled 46 boats, including a handful of MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals and Toyota Series anglers, as well as outdoor media and industry representatives from popular tackle brands and non-profits. In its nine-year history, the charity tournament has raised more than $81,000 for Keep America Fishing™.
“We said a quick prayer, then went out there and just put the hammer down,” said Bellomo. “It was so much fun. Thank you guys for putting this event together.”
Weist said this was the fifth time the team had fished this event, but the first time they’d really gotten on fish during the tournament.
“We came down to pre-fish yesterday and didn’t do very well, but we started out today offshore on some submerged grass and were able to start putting fish in the boat as soon as we rolled up,” said Bates. “We threw a lot of different baits and were able to catch them on pretty much anything we were throwing at them – they were just ready to eat.
“We had certain bite windows throughout the morning, where we would catch three or four fish at a time, then go 20 minutes or so without a bite, then catch three or four more. All in all, we ended the tournament with 30 to 35 fish and our best five would have been around 25 pounds, so it was an amazing day on the water,” Bates continued.
Although many teams ran across the lake and even locked down to Cypress Lake throughout the morning, the PDS Equipment team stayed in the same general area on the south side of Lake Toho for the entirety of the event.
“This win is just a great feeling,” said Bates. “We come to this event every year and you always hear about guys catching these ‘Florida big bags’ and you just wonder when you’re going to have one of those days – and today it was our turn.
“We come to this trade show every year, selling equipment that prints on some of the top favorite baits within the industry,” said Bates. “We started coming to the show because we love fishing and wanted to work with the companies in this industry, so being able to compete against those guys and represent PDS Equipment, and do it well, is an amazing feeling.”
The Top 10 teams finished the tournament in:
Complete results and photos from the tournament will be posted at ICASTCup.com.
USA Bass partnered with MLF and Keep America Fishing™ to award the top-finishing women’s pair at the ICAST Cup a spot on the 2024 USA Pan American Bass fishing team. The highest-finishing team of female anglers was Rhonda Pitts and Emily Freeman, who brought three bass to the stage totaling 9 pounds, 2 ounces to earn their spot on Team USA Bass at the 2024 Pan American Bass Fishing Championship, alongside Jacob Wheeler, Mark Daniels Jr., Fred Roumbanis and other top pros.
Keep America Fishing™ is leading the fight to preserve our right to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways. As the voice of the American angler, Keep America Fishing works to keep our public resources – our oceans, lakes, rivers and streams – open, clean and abundant with fish. For more information, please visit KeepAmericaFishing.org.
For more ICAST 2023 coverage, details and tournament information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.