Clewiston, Fla. — Heavy fishing pressure from a couple of major tournaments has put Lake Okeechobee to the test, but the Big O should continue to shine this week during the Cabela’s B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Southern Divisional.
Florida state team member Arnie Lane is unsure how the fishing will be after his brothers Chris and Bobby Lane and the rest of the Bassmaster Elite Series pros vacuumed the lake last week during the Power-Pole Slam.
“The Elite guys smashed them,” said Arnie Lane. “I have seen a lot of areas where the vegetation was torn up when a lot of the Elites — including my brothers — went through. Then there are a lot of areas that are full-grown with vegetation which has eliminated a lot of areas for us to fish. So the lake is fishing somewhat small but it’s still Okeechobee and it’s still a big lake.”
Despite the recent pressure, Lane found some cooperative fish in practice. “I am still getting bit,” he said. “I think you are going to need 20 pounds a day and maybe a little bit more which will mean it will take in the mid-50s to 60 pounds to win it. We are on the same pattern (as the Elite anglers) but I might have a couple of different areas that didn’t get pressured as much during the Elite Series.”
The Florida angler foresees lots of limits weighed in the next three days of the Southern Divisional that started this morning. The Power-Pole Slam gave the Southern Divisional anglers an idea of where Okeechobee bass are now and what the fish are doing. “I talked to my brothers and a couple of other guys I know real well before the cutoff, and they gave me a lot of insight. But a lot of the competitors that I am fishing against from the other states were out there, too, watching my brothers and (Kevin) VanDam, Jeff Kriet and Terry Scroggins,” said Lane. “I try to fish my own style and my own strength, though.”
Lane considers South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama as the main challengers to the host state, but he believes his home team should prevail. “I see us eating those guys up and spitting them back out,” he said. “We ought to win this thing hands down being on a Florida lake right here on our home waters.”
Today’s weigh-in at 3 p.m. ET at Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina will show if Okeechobee is still shining bright as the Florida sunshine.