A FEW DAYS ON LAKE OKEECHOBEE

Truman Patterson with Big Bass day 1 at Okeechobee 7.21 lbs
Brian Davidson and Karl Kearcher (not pictured) with 28.02 lbs on Lake Okeechobee 3/28-29/2020
Justic Koether and Alan Hough 2nd place with 28.12 lbs on Lake Okeechobee 3/28-29/2020
Junior Solis and Brian Wical with 19.90 lbs at Lake Okeechobee 3/28-29/2020
Junior Solis and Brian Wical 1st place with 39.33 lbs on Lake Okeechobee 3/28-29/2020

Space Coast Bass Finatics paid a visit to the Big "O" this month amid much uncertainty and apprehension about these trying times. Twenty-three teams made the long trip down to Glades County, at Harney Pond Canal Ramp to see what the lake had to offer and see what the changes were from last year. The water level was falling as expected and there was a definite lack of vegetation from the constant chemical spraying and last years storm damage. Conditions were a lot different from last year as the current national emergency has caused many shutdowns and cut backs on operations. The lake water level was low, about 12'0", and caution was the order of the day which everyone observed but there was the inevitable propeller damage due to coquina rock impacts. Sorry Lloyd but I know Jennifer will understand. Motor breakdowns and one small crack in Mike Neal's lower unit rounded out the unfortunate problems of the day for the equipment. The lake gave up some really nice fish to those who could find them as there were 39 limits weigh-in for the two days. There was the usual encounter with the local guides and fisherman who seem to own parts of the lake and will tell you about it as Clayton and Greg Clark found out. The club members did step up when needed like, Rick Jenkins gaving up his spare prop to Lloyd which worked just fine and even gave him a better hole shot. Alan and Wayne bailed Mike Hampton out by picking up his truck and transporting it to Indian Prairie Canal to pick up his broken boat. V-P Buddy Perry and President Karl kept things moving at the boat launch ramp and the blast off to begin the tournament.
President Karl reminded the participants to keep their distance at the meeting and use common sense during the tournament. He then review some of our past problems with fish care and release, boating safety at take off, weigh-in procedures at this tournament and the rule for distance between each tournament member and boat. Daylight arrived and the fun began.
Day one began with some wind out of the southeast and the temperature rose quickly. The day one leader was easily Brian Wical and Junior Solis, who turned in a stellar limit weighing 19.93 pounds capped of by a 6.58 pound big bass. Alan Hough and Justin Koether found some really good bass and returned with a 17.84 pound bag anchored by a 7.07 pound big girl. Truman Patterson, fishing by himself, landed the Big Bass of the day at 7.21 pounds using a Zara Spook. This was Truman's second big bass of the year and narrowly missed his club leading 7.98 pounder which he caught on Lake Poinsett. Larry Cruce and Tim Iler rounder out the top three with a 14.94 pound bag which included a 5.19 pound big bass. The only disappoint for the day was the eight (8) dead fish brought to the scales out of a total of 106 fish weighed in which will not be to good for club statistics.

Day two began with a light breeze and partly cloudy skies and a very nice sunrise over the lake. Junior Solis and Brian Wical again lead all boats as they claimed first place by more the 11 pounds. Their 10 bass total of 39.33 pounds for two days was hard to match. They were consistant on both days catching 19.43 pounds on day one and 19.90 pounds on day two, including a 6.58 pounder on Saturday and a 5.50 pounder on Sunday. They found better fish off the main lake and used flippin the grassy edges for the winning pattern.

Alan Hough and Justin Koether followed up their day on good bag with the same on day two, which solidified their second place finish. Three dead fish on day two almost wreaked their finish as the penalty was 1.5 pounds off their total for the day. Their total two day weight ended up at 28.12 pound. They found their bass in some shallow grass flats off the main lake and used Senko's and Chigger Craws to land their limits.

Karl Kearcher and Brian Davidson made a hard charge on day two to take third place with a two day total of 28.02 pounds. Their five fish limit on both days came mostly on flippin the grass and reed edges with their 6.25 pounder narrowly missing day two big bass by only 0.14 pounds. Big Bass honors for day two goes to Bill Groseclose, whose 6.39 pounder came on a Magnum Trick Worm which was made by Karl Kearcher.

Fourth place goes to Jay Stein and Chris Novak whose two day total of 27.44 pounds was caught mostly by flippin the grassy edges. Small Creel for the two day event goes to Lloyd and his brother Mike Hamilton, who staged a big come back from their day one prop tragedy to land 10.08 pounds. The fourth place and small creel were again donated by Shawn Mechella of Strike Zone of Melbourne.

There were some old records broken as the total number of fished weigh-in has now moved to 207 while the two day total weight has jumped to 499.07 almost a hundred more pounds than before. The amount of dead fish for the two days totaled out at 19, which is entirely too many for this lake. We must do a better job of protecting our fish in the live wells and make plans prior to the tournament beginning on how to keep them alive. This total is more than we have had in the previous 6 events combined.

Special thanks goes out to Alan Elder who help with setup and break down and who was riding in his first tournament on his new Triton Patriot boat, also Wayne Smith for the photos and Matt Byrd for his help with the treasurers package delivery. Club business was conducted after the weigh-in and some changes were made in the By-Laws.
Section V. Part D. Rule 11 was changed to read " If more than five (5) fish are brought to the scales the offending team will be disqualified for that days
tournament." Penalty: Disqualification.
Section V. Part D, Rule 12. was changed to read : Teams must adhere to the Florida State bag limits and/or the exemption regulations. A team may exceed
the limit temporarily as long as a fish is culled out to bring the team within bag limits prior to making
another cast or leaving the spot where the fish was caught. Culling at the ramp will be prohibited for
any reason. Penalty : Disqualification.
The next tournament will be at Miami-Garcia Impoundment on April 26, 2020. BE SAFE AND SEE YOU THERE !