(Jan 17, 2017 - Clewiston, FL.)
Robert Beatty of Clermont, Florida, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 27 pounds, 10 ounces, Saturday to win the first T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament of 2017 on Lake Okeechobee presented by Navionics. For his victory, Beatty took home $8,200.
“I started out the morning pitching into flattened reed clumps at the East Wall,” said Beatty, who earned his seventh career win in FLW competition. “I rotated between a couple of different baits that were the same shadow-blue color – a Gambler Lures BB Cricket and a Gambler Why Not. By 8:30 a.m. I had a limit that included two 4-pounders and a 5-pounder.”
Beatty said he preferred to use 1- and 2-ounce weights, depending on how thick the cover was.
“In the afternoon I headed up to the Shoal and targeted hydrilla and hyacinth,” said Beatty. “I caught two of my biggest bass there, and was culling 4-pound fish by the end of the tournament.”
Beatty said he ended up catching 20 to 25 keepers throughout the event.
“I’ve got to credit my Ranger boat and Minn Kota trolling motor for getting me to where I needed to be,” said Beatty. “They’re very reliable products.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Robert Beatty, Clermont, Fla., five bass, 27-10, $6,200 + $2,000 Ranger Cup Bonus
2nd: Neal Stark, Davie, Fla., five bass, 23-2, $3,000
3rd: Justin Morgan, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 22-13, $3,100
4th: Don Demott, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 21-11, $1,400
5th: Jason Smith, Dawson, Ga., five bass, 21-5, $1,200
6th: Benny Townend, Boynton Beach, Fla., five bass, 20-9, $1,100
7th: Ken Fitton, Loxahatchee, Fla., five bass, 19-14, $1,000
8th: Cody Davis, Deerfield Beach, Fla., five bass, 19-12, $900
9th: Casey Martin, New Hope, Ala., five bass, 19-11, $800
10th: Greg Harp, Vero Beach, Fla., five bass, 19-8, $700
Morgan caught the biggest of the tournament in the pro division – a nice 8-pound, 5-ounce largemouth – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $1000.
Michael Chadwick of Labelle, Florida, weighed in five bass totaling 18 pounds, 6 ounces, Saturday to win the co-angler division and earn $3,000.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Michael Chadwick, Labelle, Fla., five bass, 18-6, $3,000
2nd: Moses Wilson, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 17-12, $1,500
3rd: Jay Trudel, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $1,000
4th: Nik Kayler, Apopka, Fla., five bass, 15-3, $900
5th: John Trudel, Lighthouse Point, Fla., five bass, 14-13, $600
6th: Jake Stark, Davie, Fla., five bass, 14-9, $550
7th: Shawn York, Sarasota, Fla., four bass, 14-5, $1,000
8th: Loel Brandstrom, Jensen Beach, Fla., five bass, 13-11, $425
8th: Mitchell Layell, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 13-11, $425
10th: Chris Baker, Wesley Chapel, Fla., five bass, 12-14, $400
York caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division, weighing 7 pounds, 11 ounces, and earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $500.
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. 19-21 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
The 2017 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. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the 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 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa 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.