Smith scores first season win at Big O opener
ATHENS, Ala. – Dustin Smith kicked off the season the right way by winning the American Bass Anglers Weekend Bass Series Florida Division 6 season opener, held Jan. 25, 2014, on Lake Okeechobee.
Running out of C. Scott Driver Park Landing in the town of Okeechobee, Fla., the Maitland, Fla., angler caught five bass weighing 16.93 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 5.95-pound kicker. For the Boater Division victory, Smith took home a check for $2,246.
"I fished along the northwest bank," D. Smith advised. "The morning was the best, but I caught fish all day. Practice was terrible, but we found one good area."
In second for the boaters, Cody Detweiler of Orlando, Fla., landed a five-bass tournament limit going 16.48 pounds with a 5.75-pound kicker. He collected $1,123 for the effort.
"I fished down south,” Detweiler said. "I flipped a 1.5-ounce Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver in a hematoma color. That’s all I did all day. I lost one fish that would have helped me."
Jason S. Smith of Albany, Ga., took third for the boaters with five bass going 16.14 pounds. For the effort, he earned $749.
"I was flipping a 2.25- and a 1.5-ounce tungsten weight with a Big Bite Baits Real Deal Craw," J. Smith explained. "I found some good fish in practice, but they didn’t want to eat during the tournament."
Fred George of Okeechobee, Fla., finished fourth with a five-bass limit for 15.08 pounds. Bill Fugate of Kissimmee, Fla., rounded out the top five boaters with five bass at 14.95 pounds including a 4.23-pound kicker.
Joseph C. Campbell Jr. of Crystal River, Fla., made his one bass count. The 7.68-pounder took the tournament big bass title.
"The bass hit at 9:28 a.m.," Campbell recalled. “The fish hit a Gambler`s original bait on the north end of the lake."
In the Co-Angler Division, Brian Stahl of Land O Lakes, Fla., won with three bass going 11.38 pounds. He sealed his victory with a 4.68-pound kicker to pocket a check for $1,123.
"I have not fished this lake a whole lot," Stahl said. "My bites came sporadically. I caught two fish on a swim jig and one punching a mat."
Taking second for the co-anglers, Tom Mullins of Windermere, Fla., brought in a three-bass division limit for 7.98 pounds. He collected $562 for the effort.
"We fished a lot of mats," Mullins revealed. “We flipped all day long.”
Mike Wisnewski of Melbourne, Fla., placed third among the co-anglers with three bass going 7.50 pounds. For third place, he pocketed $374.
"I fished really hard," Wisnewski said. "We fished junebug worms and punched mats all day long. We just kept hammering away and never gave up."
Steven Davis of Palmetto, Fla., landed in fourth place among the co-anglers with three bass for 7.46 pounds. Barry Scott of North Fort Meyers, Fla., finished in fifth place with three bass at 7.43 pounds including a 4.30-pound kicker. Cecil R. Hock of Valrico, Fla., set the Co-Angler Division lunker standard with a 6.88-pounder.
"The big fish hit a lipless crankbait," Hock explained. "At about 2 p.m., the water warmed up. I only had two hits all day."
Slated for March 8, 2014, the next divisional tournament will be held on the Harris Chain of Lakes out of Hickory Point Recreational Facility near Tavares. At the end of the season, the best WBS anglers from across the nation will fish the 2014 Ray Scott Championship, slated for Wheeler Lake in Decatur, Ala., from Nov. 15-18. The champion boater will receive $100,000 and possibly up to $50,000 in Triton Gold Bonus money. The co-angler champion will win $50,000 and possibly up to $25,000 in Triton Gold Bonus money.
As a special Ray Scott Championship bonus, the Boater Division and Co-Angler Division champions will each receive entry fees and sponsorship into the one of two professional bass fishing series of the angler’s choice. The sponsorship includes entry fees into three professional events and sponsorship support. This sponsorship will put the champion within striking distance of one of two professional bass fishing championships.
At WBS events throughout the season, boater and co-angler competitors may also win hefty bonuses from such sponsors as Triton Boats, Mercury Outboards, Royal Purple, MotorGuide and T-H Marine. See the manufacturer web sites for specific details on how to qualify for these bonuses.
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.