The big bags which were anticipated for Saturday’s finale of the 3-day Costa FLW Series Southeastern Division opener at Florida’s Lake Okeechobee never materialized, and FLW Tour Pro Jason Lambert caught a 12-12 sack to win the event with a 3-day total of 44-12. The win earned Lambert $60,000.00 as well as a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower outboard. After a tough 2015 on the Tour Lambert was pleased to start 2016 so well.
Tennesee-based Lambert was the only pro to finish in the top 5 who is not a Floridian, as finishing in 2nd place was Glenn Browne of Ocala, Florida with 43-04 worth $25,500.00. 3rd place (worth $17,000.00) went to Joseph Kremer of Osteen, Florida with 40-14 bag, while fourth place (worth $15,000.00) went to Bryan Honnerlaw of Moore Haven, Florida with 39 pounds even. In fifth place (worth $14,000.00) was Justin Morgan of Okeechobee, Fla. With 37-00.
Rounding out the top 10 were:
- Peter Cherkas – Des Moines, Iowa – 36-3 (15) – $10,500
- Jimmy Brewer – Marshall, Texas – 35-09 (15) – $9,000
- Steve “Boogie” Brown – Altamonte Springs, Fla. – 34-07 (13) – $8,000
- Pat Fisher – Colbert, Ga. – 31-04 (13) – $7,000
- Cole Bailey – Thamesford, Ontario – 30-12 (10) – $5,000
Jason Lambert relied on a 1/2-ounce War Eagle Spinnerbait in Sexy Mouse color as well as an Original ChatterBait with a V & M Thunder Shad trailer around Okeechobee’s extensive vegetation. Known for his prowess fishing the Tennessee River lakes in the summertime, Lambert says he prefers fishing a moving bait over something more stationary.
While most of the top-10 anglers relied on some sort of flipping bait in some very unusual weather for Florida, Lambert’s preference actually mirrored that of Dearal Rodgers of Camden, who finished in 24th place and was very pleased to take home a $2,850.00 check. On day two Dearal caught a 10-1 ounce bag to go with his 14-11 day one sack, for a two-day total of 24-12. Overall tournament weights were down on day two, as some very severe storms came in around Noon and many anglers (including Dearal) chose to abandon the areas they were fishing to get closer to the weigh-in area.
While Dearal had gone into practice thinking that flipping might play a bigger role than it did for him, most of the fish that he weighed also came on an Original ChatterBait. Dearal usually fishes ½ ounce baits, whether plain jigs or ChatterBaits, finding that the heavier baits casts and falls better for him, but in the tournament he alternated between ½ and 3/8 ounce ChatterBaits. Black and blue was his best color. He found that hungry fish were relating to the lane between mats of grass as they seemed to come out of the mats to feed.
With an FLW Tour event coming to Lake Okeechobee in early February, it will be interesting to see how patterns change in the next couple of weeks. Weather will no doubt be a major factor in determining whether the huge sacks hoped-for on Okeechobee at this time of year actually materialize.