(Feb 4, 2016 - Clewiston, FL)
Oklahoma pro Bradley Hallman, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 25 pounds even Thursday to grab the early lead after day one of the Walmart FLW Tour at Lake Okeechobee presented by Ranger Boats. Right behind him in second place is renowned Okeechobee angler Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, who weighed in five bass totaling 22-8. Hallman now brings a 2½-pound lead into day two of the four-day tournament that features 169 of the top bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
“It is very enjoyable to lead the first day, but it is Okeechobee,” said Hallman, who is fishing in the first Walmart FLW Tour event of his career after a stellar 2015 season in the semi-pro Costa FLW Series. “How many times have we seen guys come down here and catch them and lead one day, then come back with four pounds the next day. I had a great day today and I’m happy to be in the position that I’m in.”
Hallman said that he fished mainly in one key area on the south end of the lake, but was covering a lot of water and had his trolling motor on high for most of the day.
“I caught 20 to 25 fish today, but not all of them were big,” Hallman said. “I’m flipping and throwing a winding bait, and I’m catching fish on both.”
The Norman, Oklahoma native said that he had very little experience on Okeechobee, having fished just one FLW Series tournament on the lake more than eight years ago. In preparation for this tournament, Hallman said that he studied old episodes of the “FLW” television show to help find the big fish.
“I spent a lot of time watching videos and old TV shows and year after year after year I was seeing the big fish coming out of the same vegetation. So, I looked for that and what I’m fishing looks like the same stuff.”
With local meteorologists predicting a cold front and a strong north wind tomorrow, most anglers expect day two to fish drastically different than the first which saw sunny 80-degree temperatures and a slight breeze from the south.
“Tomorrow will be survival day,” said Hallman. “I don’t have the experience on this lake, so I don’t know what areas are going to be protected from the wind and what’s not. I’m going to go check the area that I fished today in the morning and if it doesn’t look good I’ll get back in the canal and head to the north end.”
The top 10 pros after day one on Lake Okeechobee are:
1st: Bradley Hallman, Norman, Okla., five bass, 25-0
2nd: Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 22-8
3rd: Alex Davis, Albertville, Ala., five bass, 21-0
4th: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., five bass, 20-12
5th: Ryan Chandler, Hebron, Ind., five bass, 20-6
6th: Shinichi Fukae, Palestine, Texas, five bass, 20-3
7th: Darrel Robertson, Jay, Okla., five bass, 18-11
8th: Jim Tutt, Longview, Texas, five bass, 18-7
9th: John Devere, Berea Ky., five bass, 18-6
10th: FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley, Conway, Ark., five bass, 17-0
Tommy Dickerson of Orange, Texas, earned the Big Bass Award on the pro side Thursday, weighing a 7-pound, 2-ounce largemouth to win the $500 prize.
Overall there were 780 bass weighing 1,729 pounds, 6 ounces caught by 168 pros Thursday. The catch included 139 five-bass limits.
Vincent Yonemitsu of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, leads the co-angler division with five bass weighing 18 pounds, 11 ounces, followed by Michel Purvis of Canton, Georgia, in second place with five bass weighing 18 pounds even.
The top 10 co-anglers after day one on Lake Okeechobee are:
1st: Vincent Yonemitsu, Thornhill, Ontario, five bass, 18-11
2nd: Michel Purvis, Canton, Ga., five bass, 18-0
3rd: William Roberts, Fairfax, Va., five bass, 16-14
4th: Tyler Meredith, Oliver Springs, Tenn., five bass, 15-15
5th: Spiro Agouros, Oshawa, Ontario, five bass, 15-10
6th: Joey Cifuentes, Clinton, Ark., five bass, 15-9
6th: Matt Surman, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 15-9
8th: Gary Haraguchi, Redding, Calif., five bass, 15-8
9th: Maurice Cobb, Kuttawa, Ky., five bass, 15-7
10th: Todd Lee, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 14-5
Surman earned the Bridgford Big Bass Award on the co-angler side Thursday with a largemouth totaling 7 pounds, 15 ounces to win the $250 prize.
Overall there were 636 bass weighing 1,218 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 161 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 97 five-bass limits.
In addition to casting for top awards of up to $125,000 cash in the pro division and up to $25,000 cash in the co-angler division, anglers are also competing for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing. The 2016 Forrest Wood Cup will be in Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 4-7 on Wheeler Lake.
Anglers will take off from Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort located at 920 E. Del Monte, Ave., in Clewiston at 7:30 a.m. each day. Friday’s weigh-ins will be held at the marina beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s final weigh-ins will be held at Walmart, located at 1005 W. Sugarland Highway., in Clewiston beginning at 4 p.m.
Fans will also be treated to the FLW Expo on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Walmart prior to the final weigh-ins. The Expo includes a 100-yard Lew’s Casting Lane, the opportunity to interact with professional anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities. All activities are free and open to the public.
Also for youth, the FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby will be held at Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina on Saturday, Feb. 6 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. The event is hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, and is free and open to area youth 15 years of age and younger and Special Olympics athletes. Rods and reels are available for use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one. All bait is provided by the DMF Bait Company.
Coverage of the Lake Okeechobee tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) this fall. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network as well as FLWFishing.com and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
The tournament is hosted by Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort and the Hendry County Tourism Development Council.
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.