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Busting Them at the Big O

Posted by stephen on March 12, 2017


I’m back at home after two Elite events and the first Bassmaster Central Open of the season.  Overall, I feel pretty good about our start on the Elites.  We were able to get some great points at Okeechobee and not have a total bomb at Cherokee.  Table Rock was a grind of an event and after a tough day one I was able to come back a little on day two there as well.

At Cherokee my event really boiled down to me not making the best decision on day one.  I got a couple quality bites to start the day and ended up sticking around because of it.  I put two over three pounds in the boat early on, lost a four and foul hooked another about two and a quarter pounds.  Unfortunately, those were the only bites I managed all day on the spot.

Day two I decided to go to my comfort zone and run up the river and just fish my way around.  I ran into about twelve pounds pretty easily.  Hindsight is 20/20, but I probably should have done that day one too.  That’s why it’s fishing though.  Fishing up the river, flipping and cranking are what I do.  I’m not a get out in thirty feet of water and drop a fluke bait kind of guy.  You have to fish your strengths especially at this level.

After Cherokee we got to get to fish some warmer weather down in South Florida at Lake Okeechobee.  I’ve been there a handful of times and I’ve had some good events and some bad ones in the state of Florida.  It can be one of the most challenging places to be consistent, but the potential to catch really big bags is always there.  Fortunately for me I was able to experience that on day one.

I got off to a really good start with over twenty pounds the first day of the event.  It felt really good to catch that big of a bag down there.  I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve had that kind of weight in an Elite event.  It’s all about the big bite in Florida and that’s a big reason that it’s so hard to be consistent down there.  I was lucky enough to get some of those bites most days of the event.  The final day was the only one I didn’t have any quality fish.

Throughout the event, I never fished the same water.  Everything took place in a small area I was fishing, but I would expand on it each day of the event.  There were three or four of us in the same general area day one and I think all of us were in the top twelve that first day.  The area was the size of a football field so we all had plenty of space to fish.  However, the next day we had a little more company from some guys that didn’t do so well day one.  It helped once we got to days three and four because we went back to only having a few of us in there again.

I’ll take a final day cut any day of the week.  My practice was decent, but I didn’t really find anything great outside of the Harney Pond area that I spent my event.  I dedicated a lot of practice to finding some good flipping areas, but that never materialized.  I did find one cranking spot that helped me cull during the event, but overall I relied heavily on Harney Pond.  When I went there in practice to launch right before sunrise I was shocked to see how many boats were there.  Between our guys and locals I could barely find a parking spot!  It’s an area that people have done well in, but rarely do you see guys win solely from it.  I think Brett Hite is the only one I remember who has done it.

I stayed with a local fisherman at Okeechobee for the event.  Most of the local events were only taking in the low twenties to win which is considered “off” for the Big O.  He didn’t really think we’d have that good of weights because of it, but I told him just wait until we get on there.  We definitely didn’t disappoint as there were two bags over thirty and lots of very solid bags to go with it.  He was amazed.  It just goes to show how good these guys on the Elites really are.

Now that I’m home, I’m enjoying some family time with my wife and my son Beau.  It’s good to have a little time to recharge and get ready for the rest of the season, but I can assure you I’d love to be fishing the Classic at Conroe too.  I’m excited about the rest of this season though with a lot of fisheries coming up that I really like.  I normally don’t do a whole lot of prefishing, but I’m getting some in for Rayburn and Dardanelle.  Although I’ve spent some time at both, the grass shifts around and it’ll be good to ride around and see how things are looking this year beforehand.  I feel like the rest of the season sets up real well for me even the northern events.  I’ve done well on St. Clair, 1000 Islands and Champlain in the past and look forward to getting back up there.  For now, I’m going to enjoy this time with the family and get some projects done around the house before we get back after it. -SB