All eyes were on tournament leader Shaye Baker today as he attempted to protect his 4-plus-pound lead from Day One.
James Overstreet and I are off the water, preparing for what will be an interesting weigh-in. The 49-angler field will be cut to the top 12 today. But this event is all about first place and the wild card entry into the Bassmaster Classic.
One recurring lament in the weigh-in line yesterday was that the state is spraying hyacinths and other vegetation on Okeechobee right now. It's a necessary process if certain potentially devastating weeds are going to be kept under control, but if you've found good bass in a spot that suddenly gets sprayed, you'll need to be looking for new water almost immediately. The herbicides are fast-acting and start killing the vegetation right away. In a day (sometimes less), the bass will evacuate those areas and find other vegetation to use as their home.
Just about everyone is flippin', pitching and punching here this week, but most have another technique they're using too, to cover a little water and fish a little faster between their flips, pitches and punches. For some, that technique is buzzing a Zoom Horny Toad or Gambler Cane Toad. For others it's swimming a Zoom Speed Worm or Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper through the sparse grass. Everyone seems to be doing about the same thing … just in slightly different places.
Shaye Baker just pulled three pounds of bass and five pounds of water hyacinths into the boat. The bass helped him cull up another pound or so. Jesse Tecoronte, fishing nearby, says he's got about 16 pounds today. Baker thinks he's got about 16 or 17 pounds now.
It's amazing how a lake covering some 470,000 surface acres can still manage to concentrate fisherman into a few well-known locations, but that's exactly what always seems to happen here at Lake Okeechobee. Legendary places like the Monkey Box, Fisheating Bay and Moonshine Hole produce winner after winner here, and will likely do it again at the Wild Card. All these spots are on the western edge of the lake, and they draw just about all the fishing pressure — from the pros to the guides to the weekend anglers.
Shaye Baker has moved to some thick vegetation near the Indian Creek area of Lake Okeechobee, and he's got plenty of company. One-tenth of the 49-angler field is right here, including Jesse Tacoronte, who was sixth on Day One with 20-6. But we're not seeing many fish catches right now. However, it's early. The bite turned on for a bunch of guys around noon yesterday. Baker caught his 9-1 at one o'clock yesterday.
Shaye Baker went through a bit of a dry spell and just made a move that immediately paid off with a 3 1/2-pounder. That should put him at about 14 pounds for the day.
In January 1977, Dave Gliebe put on one of the great tournament performances of all time right here at Okeechobee. He won the ABF (American Bass Fisherman) Hurst Open with a three-day catch (21 total bass) weighing 95-3. Second place was Roland Martin (fishing in this week's Wild Card) with 52-10. That's a margin of victory of more than 42 pounds and the biggest I've ever heard of in a national tournament.
Shaye Baker is pretty much dialed in this morning. He just called his shot on his fifth bass of the day. It was a 2 1/2 pounder. Baker is casting and pitching to isolated reed clumps with a jig. While I've been writing this he's caught two more that didn't help him.