Some technical difficulties prevented me from blogging on Lake Okeechobee this morning, so let me try to get you caught up as to what's happening today.
First of all, much of the 49-angler field is concentrated on the south end of the lake. I didn't keep count of all the tournament anglers we saw there this morning, but it was a bunch.
Secondly, most of them had a flipping stick in hand. There will be some fish caught off spawning beds this week, but almost everyone we saw was flipping the variety of aquatic vegetation in Okeechobee.
Jeff Kriet predicted as much before the 7 a.m. launch today.
"I've got a bunch of rods on the (boat) deck, but I will probably just use that flipping stick all day," Kriet said. "I've had enough bites (during practice this week) that I probably won't do anything else."
There are bass on spawning beds, and some will be caught that way, Kriet predicted. But those will likely be the exception rather than the rule this week.
Finally, somebody is likely to weigh-in a five-bass limit of 30 pounds today.
"Somebody will sack 'em," said Kriet, but he doubts anyone can do that consistently this week.
A cold front came through the area a week ago and knocked the water surface temperature down into the lower 60s. But it's warming this week. Kriet said most of the lake is back into the 66- to 69-degree range. And the warm weather predicted for the rest of the week should push it past the 70-degree mark.
Bass are actively feeding. But Florida bass are noted for being finicky. And several anglers mentioned the subtle changes they've had to make every day in order to catch fish.
The winner of this event will be the angler who is able to make the key adjustments each day.
Other than the cloud of blood-sucking mosquitoes, there's not another cloud in the sky over Lake Okeechobee for the first day of the Bassmaster Wild Card Tournament presented by Star Tron.
Shaye Baker reports that he saw a mosquito standing flat-footed while making love to a wild turkey this week.
James Overstreet, boat driver Dave Bolema and I are on the south end of this massive lake, where we've already seen some "boat-bumping." Arnie Lane and Russ Lane (unrelated) are flipping some isolated vegetation and have been within 50 feet of each other at times. We've seen both men land a bass - Arnie's wasn't a keeper, but Russ's appeared to weigh about 3 pounds and - get this - allowed him to cull a smaller bass already.
Pre-tournament predictions were all over the map as to what it will take to make the top 12 cut after two days. Some of the 49 anglers thought it would take 20 pounds a day; others thought it would take "only" 17 pounds. But everyone agrees that anything is possible at Lake Okeechobee, especially with the warm, calm conditions predicted for the next three days.
I turned 27 today and other than spending my birthday with friends and family, I can't think of a place I'd rather be than Lake Okeechobee. This was my first bite as a 27 year old, and I'm hoping she's just one of many this week as I get ready for the Bassmaster Classic Wild Card presented by Star Tron. With all that's wrong with the world today, there's just simply something right about this place. Thanks for all the birthday wishes and well wishes for the tournament. Hoping to make you proud!