OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – The strong winds that have blown all week at the Bassmaster Elite Series Power-Pole Slam on Lake Okeechobee have been cause for concern with most of the Elite field.
But at the start of Day Two, the wind changed drastically, switching from the east to a south-southeasterly wind direction. And the 20-mile-per-hour gusts, a regular occurrence throughout practice and Day One of the tournament, calmed to a light breeze this morning.
"The thing in Florida is the smallest wind shift can really change the positioning of the fish," said Mike Iaconelli, who is currently in 20th place with 15 pounds, 8 ounces. "Guys that are doing really well and catching big stringers in a certain area need to have an open mind; they have to adjust to the fish."
Floridanative Cliff Prince also had a positive outlook on the changes in the weather, saying, "It sure can't hurt with the wind letting up a little bit. It allows these guys to run around and get into their areas a little bit better than yesterday."
Today's forecast calls for maximum winds of only 10 miles per hour. The slack in wind and change of direction is what the anglers had been hoping for. Adapting to the new conditions is another story.
"I've fished Okeechobee tournaments before and – I swear – you were certain (the fish) were in a 20-yard stretch," said Iaconelli. "The wind would change directions like it has today, and they would move half a mile."
Clear water is dictated primarily by the speed and direction of the wind. And since Florida largemouth follow clear water, even the slightest difference in clarity can put them on the move.
"As the wind shifts, water clarity moves around, so guys need to have an open mind. They may not catch them right where they caught them yesterday," said Iaconelli. "Same general area, but they need to move with the clear water, and that's what I'm going to do today."