(Jan 11, 2016 - Lake Okeechobee, FL)
Professional angler George Kapiton of Inverness, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 31 pounds even Saturday to win the first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament of 2016 on Lake Okeechobee, presented by Navionics. For his victory, Kapiton earned $9,000.
“I couldn’t establish a stable pattern in practice so I went out there and just fished the conditions,” said Kapiton, a veteran of the Walmart FLW Tour who has earned more than $190,000 in FLW competition. “It was really an interesting day of fishing.
“I caught a small limit of staging fish early in the morning using a perch-colored Rapala X-Rap prop bait,” continued Kapiton. “After the sun came out, I went looking for more males in Harney Pond. I was able to dial in on staging fish that were coming in from the lake to spawn and basically intercepted them before they reached the bedding area.”
Kapiton said he used a Texas-rigged penetration-colored Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver and a black and blue-colored Medlock Double Weedguard Flipping Jig rigged with the Sweet Beaver to flip mats and reeds.
The Florida pro said he caught a 6½- and an 8-pounder on the Sweet Beaver, as well as a 6½-pound fish on the Medlock Jig in one area of the pond between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Kapiton stopped at an area near the boat ramp with 30 minutes left to fish and used the Medlock Jig to catch an 8-pound, 2-ounce behemoth to cap off his winning stringer.
“I credit my Halo Daylite Series rod with helping me get the win,” said Kapiton. “The rod is lightweight, but durable enough to catch the big ones on Lake Okeechobee. It performed very well.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: George Kapiton, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 31-0, $6,000 + $2,000 Ranger Cup Bonus + $1,000 Mercury Bonus
2nd: Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 28-15, $3,000 + $300 Evinrude Bonus
3rd: Jim Hurlock Jr., Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 24-8, $2,000
4th: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 22-14, $1,400
5th: Jai Hunter Sr., Deland, Fla., five bass, 22-6, $1,200
6th: Juan Ruiz, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 21-9, $1,100
7th: John O' Farrell, Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 21-0, $1,000
8th: David Oliveira, Homestead, Fla., five bass, 19-15, $900
9th: Kyle Giella, Ruskin, Fla., five bass, 19-13, $800
10th: Sandy Melvin, Boca Grande, Fla., five bass, 19-12, $700
Crosnoe caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division, a monster weighing 10 pounds, 6 ounces and earned the day’s Big Bass award of $1,000.
Alex Mut of Miami, Florida, weighed in five bass totaling 17 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to earn the $3,000 win in the co-angler division.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Alex Mut, Miami, Fla., five bass, 17-12, $3,000
2nd: Charles Cenko, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five bass, 17-9, $1,500
3rd: John Davis, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five bass, 16-15, $1,000
4th: Raymond Guerra, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 15-10, $700
5th: Kirk Kastner, Margate, Fla., five bass, 15-9, $600
6th: Michael Gilliard, Tallahassee, Fla., five bass, 15-8, $550
7th: Junior Iriban, Lantana, Fla., five bass, 15-5, $475
7th: Israel Panozzo, Palm Springs, Fla., five bass, 15-5, $475
9th: Thomas Helton, Charleston, Tenn., five bass, 15-1, $400
10th: Kyle Stafford, Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 14-15, $350
Shannon Pitts of Vero Beach, Florida, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division and earned the day’s Big Bass award of $500.
The top 50 boaters and 50 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 13-15 Regional Championship on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 50 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and 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. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.
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 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.