(Feb 12, 2018 - Clewiston, FL)
Boater Ronnie Buck of Miami, Florida, caught five bass weighing 26 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Navionics. For his efforts, Buck took home $5,504.
Buck said he spent the tournament fishing a 200-yard stretch of water in the Dyess Ditch area of the lake. He said he followed a similar pattern to what FLW Tour pro Tim Frederick did to win the FLW Tour event on Lake Okeechobee in January.
“I was basically in the same area (as Frederick). I found the fish in practice on Friday and I was able to go back and execute,” said Buck, who earned his first career win in FLW competition. “There were isolated heads of grass with little stickups nearby, and the bigger ones were around the stickups.”
Buck said he used a Junebug-colored Gambler Fat Ace to catch four of five bass that he weighed, and a black and blue-colored Gambler Heavy Cover Southern Swim Jig with a Gambler Burner Craw trailer in the same color for his fifth. He said the first two hours of the day were spent with the swim jig, and the rest were spent using the Fat Ace.
“I’m not sure if they were bedding, or moving in and out. I was casting and pitching to them, and fishing as slow as I could,” said Buck.
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Ronnie Buck, Miami, Fla., five bass, 26-1, $5,504
2nd: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 23-11, $2,752
3rd: Jared McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., five bass, 23-0, $1,768
4th: Chad Van Slyke, Cicero, N.Y., five bass, 22-4, $1,238
5th: Jessie Mizell, Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 21-4, $1,061
6th: Richard Teschendorf, Palm Harbor, Fla., five bass, 20-2, $972
7th: Brianne McMillan, Belle Glade, Fla., five bass, 19-13, $840
7th: Fred George, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 19-13, $840
9th: Mike Jackson, San Mateo, Fla., five bass, 19-4, $707
10th: Jeffery Swearingen, Albany, Ga., five bass, 18-13, $619
Roger Crafton of Boca Grande, Florida, caught a giant largemouth weighing 9 pounds, 13 ounces – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $835.
Brian Malys of Bartow, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $3,084 Saturday after catching a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 3 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Brian Malys, Bartow, Fla., five bass, 25-3, $3,084
2nd: Robert Lauffer, Clermont, Fla., five bass, 20-5, $1,341
3rd: James Tyler, Deltona, Fla., five bass, 18-14, $863
4th: Andrew Pulliam, Spring Hill, Fla., five bass, 17-3, $603
5th: Shaun Ireland, Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $516
6th: Christian Greico, Tampa, Fla., five bass, 14-3, $473
7th: John Cervenka, Windermere, Fla., four bass, 13-12, $430
8th: Anthony Cilladi, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 13-9, $387
9th: Cody Farnham, Port St. Lucie, Fla., five bass, 13-6, $344
10th: Hunter Taylor, Ocoee, Fla., five bass, 13-5, $301
Malys also caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division – a 10-pound, 5-ounce lunker. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $402.
The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division event on Lake Okeechobee presented by Navionics was hosted by Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort.
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. 11-13 BFL Regional Championship on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida. 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 2018 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 2018 BFL All-American will be held May 31-June 2 at Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. 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 2018 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct 286 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, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.