The last time Lake Okeechobee hosted a Bassmaster Elite series tournament was in 2012 when California pro Ish Monroe weighed 108 pounds, five ounces of largemouth bass in four days– the fifth largest catch in the top-tier trail’s history.
On Feb. 23-26, the circuit’s more than 100 anglers will be back for the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite, and at least one local pro believes it could take even more weight than five years ago to take home the $100,000 top prize.
Captain Steve Daniel– who competed in the Elites from 2005 to 2009, won two FLW championships on the big lake, and has been guiding charter customers there since 1985–predicts that if south-central Florida’s mild weather continues, the winning angler will have to rack up at least 20 pounds per day. In the FLW circuit’s one-day T-H Marine BFL event held Feb. 11, Moore Haven, FL. winner Bryan Honnerlaw weighed 21 pounds, five ounces.
Daniel notes that lake levels have dropped into the normal range now that the region’s dry season has taken hold; bass have been spawning since November; and they are biting somewhere on the Big O every day.
“It’s not just a pitchin’/flippin’ deal like in 2012,” Daniel said, referring to the techniques of punching weighted lures under trees and through mats of vegetation on the shoreline. “Open-water fishing is going to be the best. The lake is really opening up well and guys who like throwing chatterbaits, Rat-L-Traps, and spinnerbaits will get dialed in to 100-yard stretches where big ones are hanging out.”
Daniel also predicts the event will be won on the north end of the lake, where anglers will launch each day from Scott Driver Park in Okeechobee.
The full field will fish Feb. 23 and 24, cut to 50 on the 25th, and then to the top 12 on the final day. Daily afternoon weigh-ins are free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for more information.
On Feb. 25 and 26, from noon to 6pm, Bassmaster and the Okeechobee Tourist Development Council will co-host a free, family-friendly B.A.S.S. Bash at the park featuring food trucks, children’s activities, arts and crafts vendors, community organizations and products and demonstrations by Bassmaster sponsors. Guy Harvey Outpost representatives will staff a booth (space V26) at the expo to talk to visitors about plans for the latest brand segment, Guy Harvey Outpost Club & Resort Collection, which encompasses coastal cottages and RV lots for sale/rent within a Guy Harvey lifestyle community.
The first introduction of this product will be in Tarpon Springs, with more locations to be announced. To learn more about Tarpon Springs CLICK HERE, and for future brand announcements visit the GHO web site. Also, be sure to visit the GHO booth for a chance to win a free guided fishing trip with Captain Scott Kerslake!
Besides competing for cash, all the Elite pros are vying for points toward qualifying for the 2018 Bassmaster Classic on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell. Those who have qualified for this year’s Classic March 24-26 at Texas’ Lake Conroe consider Lake O a helpful and potentially lucrative warm-up for the Super Bowl of bass fishing.