(Feb 21, 2019 - OKEECHOBEE, Fl.)
Boater Kail Stevens of Boynton Beach, Florida, caught a massive five-bass limit Saturday weighing 32 pounds, 10 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee. Stevens took home $4,766 for his efforts.
“We had a little cold front come through and it slowed everything down leading up to the tournament,” said Stevens, who earned his first career victory with FLW. “On Saturday, though, it seemed like a new wave of fish moved up.
“I was around the Monkey Box and Harney Pond and was fishing for bedding fish,” continued Stevens. “I didn’t know whether they were in or out yet. I started inside, shallow, where I could see bottom and I caught some smaller bucks. That told me they might be coming in, but they’re not in yet. I went out midway toward the main lake and caught a 7-pounder flipping cattails.”
Stevens said he caught the 7-pounder flipping a 4.25-inch black and blue Gambler Stinger.
“I fished through there and ended up back where I started, and on my first cast back I caught an 8-pound, 11-ouncer,” said Stevens. “Three casts later I caught a 6-pounder. I Power-Poled down and picked off two more 5-plus-pounders. I went from having 12 pounds to 25 or 26 pounds in 30 to 40 minutes.”
Stevens said those fish came on black and blue- and green-pumpkin-colored Gambler Big EZ swimbaits.
“In practice the water was dirtier, so I threw lighter colors, but in the tournament it cleared up so I went darker,” Stevens went on to say. ”All of my fish came from the same 100-yard stretch. It was definitely a day I’ll never forget.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Kail Stevens, Boynton Beach, Fla., five bass, 32-10, $4,766
2nd: Brandon Medlock, Lake Placid, Fla., five bass, 29-12, $1,883
3rd: Timothy Feller, Coral Springs, Fla., five bass, 27-2, $1,456
4th: Alex Terescenko, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 26-1, $879
5th: Josh McDermott, Fishers, Ind., five bass, 25-2, $853
6th: Christian Greico, Tampa, Fla., five bass, 24-11, $690
7th: Trent Pardue, Troy, N.C., five bass, 24-3, $628
8th: Nicholas Anthony, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 24-2, $565
9th: Val Osinski, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five bass, 23-1, $502
10th: Chad Van Slyke, Cicero, N.Y., five bass, 23-0, $439
Derek Savage of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, caught a 9-pound, 13-ounce bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $500.
Sam Goldberg of Lake Worth, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $2,133 Saturday after catching five bass weighing 22 pounds, 5 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Sam Goldberg, Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 22-5, $2,133
2nd: Shawn York, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 21-5, $1,142
3rd: Joshua Weaver, Monroe, Ga., five bass, 17-14, $627
4th: Bill Osceola II, Ochopee, Fla., five bass, 17-5, $439
5th: Doug Caldwell, Indiantown, Fla., five bass, 17-0, $377
6th: Dalton Hottle, Monmouth, Ill., five bass, 16-13, $345
7th: Kazunori Okuma, Moriyama, Japan, five bass, 16-9, $314
8th: Stephanie Hutcheson, Orange City, Fla., five bass, 16-8, $332
9th: Kenneth Guy, Miramar, Fla., five bass, 15-13, $251
10th: Ricky Martes, Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 15-9, $220
Goldberg also caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 8 pounds, 4 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $250.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 10-12 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard.
The T-H Marine FLW BFL Gator Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee was hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourist & Development Council.
The 2019 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six regional tournaments where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. The 2019 BFL All-American will be held May 30-June 1 at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland, and is hosted by the Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the Commissioners of Charles County. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2019 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal, South Africa and Spain. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.