Florida Division to open on Big O
ATHENS, Ala. – The Florida Division 6 of the Weekend Bass Series opens its new season Jan. 25, 2014, on Lake Okeechobee.
The competitors will launch at C. Scott Driver Park, located at 10100 West Highway 78 in the town of Okeechobee, Fla. Anglers may begin fishing at 7 a.m. or safe light. The weigh-in will begin at 3 p.m. Registration begins at 3 p.m. Jan. 24. To register for this tournament, see www.americanbassanglers.com/proddetail.php?prod=793.
To enter, anglers fishing the Boater Division pay $200 with co-anglers paying $100.
- No more dual membership to fish the Weekend Bass Series
- No more credit card processing fees for tournament entries
- Liability insurance requirements have been reduced to an acceptable level for weekend anglers
- Increased payback at divisional events from 20% of the field to 25% of the field.
Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass, each at least 12 inches long. Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass. Anglers competing in this tournament will need a Florida fishing license. For Florida fishing license information, see http://myfwc.com/license or call 888-347-4356.
In addition to cash prizes for top finishes, boater and co-angler competitors fishing this tournament and WBS events throughout the season may also win hefty bonuses from such sponsors as Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, MotorGuide and T-H Marine. See the manufacturer’s web sites for details on contingencies.
At the end of the season, the best WBS anglers from across the nation will compete in the 2014 Ray Scott Championship, slated for Nov. 15-18 at Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala. At that tournament, the champion boater will receive $100,000 and the co-angler champion will win $50,000.
In addition, the WBS Boater Division season champion will receive a sponsorship and entry fees into one of two professional bass tournament circuits of his or her choice. By entering one of these professional tournament circuits, that person will also enjoy an opportunity to earn a coveted slot in that circuit’s world championship with the chance to possibly win more than a million dollars in prize money and sponsorships.
One of the best bass lakes in the nation, Lake Okeechobee ranks Number 8 on the 2013 Bassmaster magazine list of the top 100 bass waters in the United States. Well-known for producing monster largemouths, Big O probably holds more double-digit bass than any other lake in the nation. The lake record largemouth weighed more than 15 pounds.
About the size of Rhode Island, Lake Okeechobee covers about 730 square miles of south Florida and ranks as the largest freshwater lake in Florida, second largest freshwater lake completely within the borders of the lower 48 states and largest freshwater lake contained completely within one state. The ancient massive lake averages less than nine feet deep. Anglers may find deeper water in the Rim Canal.
Huge grass mats and reedy flats cover large portions of this inland sea. Many anglers flip the reeds with jigs, tubes or other soft-plastic baits. Others punch through the grass mats with heavy Texas-rigged baits or jigs. Frogs buzzed across the surface or large swimbaits worked enticingly near grass lines can also work well. Toward the middle of the lake, shell beds and other structure can offer some action for anglers throwing Carolina rigs, deep-running crankbaits or other temptations.
During a May 18, 2013, tournament on Lake Okeechobee, Van Soles of Haines City, Fla., won the Boater Division with five bass weighing 17.06 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 7.69-pound bucketmouth that took tournament lunker honors. Soles caught his fish by running frogs over the grass tops or flipping beavers around reeds and cattails at the northern end of the massive lake.
In the Co-Angler Division during that tournament, Tom Reeves of Land O Lakes, Fla., won with three bass weighing 15.71 pounds for a 5.24-pound average. He upped his average with a 6.48-pounder that led the division big bass contest. Reeves caught his fish on swim jigs, swimbaits and worms. The big one hit a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper at midday.
For area information, contact the Okeechobee County Tourism Department Council at 863-763-3959 or see www.okeechobee-tdc.com. For more information on this tournament, call Billy Benedetti, tournament manager, at 256-230-5632 or ABA at 256-232-0406. On line, see www.americanbassanglers.com.
About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low cost, close to home tournaments for the weekend angler and at the same time offer each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression. For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Weekend Bass Series, the American Fishing Tour or the American Couples Series, visit www.americanbassanglers.com.