Non-boater Abegg finds personal best

Non-boater Zeke Abegg of the Tennessee B.A.S.S. Nation team electrified the Day 2 weigh-in at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Southeast Regional on Lake Okeechobee, with a three-fish limit of 18 pounds, 9 ounces — the heaviest of his division. Abegg’s impressive catch included his personal best, an 8-4 that qualified for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Trophy Catch Program.

After placing 85th on Day 1 with one fish for 1-7, Egg rocketed into (unofficially) third place. Noting that he caught his fish by flipping soft plastics in shallow vegetation, Abegg said the protected area on the lake’s south end was key.

“It was calm where we were, so I had the ability to just sit and let the boat (soak),” he said. “Once you get out of the wind, you can fish a little slower.”

Abegg said he saw beds in the area he fished, but he surmises that his opportunity was made possible by the dynamics of a Florida spring. Unlike sight fishing bedding bass, which strongly favors the boater, the prespawn stage that many Okeechobee bass are currently in, can be a non-boater’s dream, as it avails equal, if not better opportunity for the back of the boat.

“The big girls are moving in, the males are in the back building beds,” Abegg said. “The fish come in waves over two to three weeks. I think some are finding beds and some are moving in. We caught (approximately) 20 fish and I got lucky enough to catch the three biggest. 

“We watch it on TV and we hear about Okeechobee and come down here. When you feel a bite, you don’t know if it’s going to be the fish of a lifetime or if it’s just going to be another 2-pounder. But hold on because they get real big here.”