‘O-mazing’ Florida bass

The pros knew big fish would be caught in the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee last week. After dock talk that the Big O wasn’t producing weights like the 2012 Elite visit, that was quickly disproved. Tyler Carriere showed how it was done with this Day 1 9-pound, 5-ounce lunker that held on for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the event, earning the rookie $1,500. <p> <em>All captions: Mike Suchan</em>
Photo: James Overstreet - The pros knew big fish would be caught in the A.R.E. Truck Caps Bassmaster Elite at Lake Okeechobee last week. After dock talk that the Big O wasn’t producing weights like the 2012 Elite visit, that was quickly disproved. Tyler Carriere showed how it was done with this Day 1 9-pound, 5-ounce lunker that held on for the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the event, earning the rookie $1,500. All captions: Mike Suchan
Pretty sure Josh Bertrand is showing the type of quality culls that are made on Okeechobee, not what was spit out in his livewell. Big fish do need to be kept in a separate well from their little brothers.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - Pretty sure Josh Bertrand is showing the type of quality culls that are made on Okeechobee, not what was spit out in his livewell. Big fish do need to be kept in a separate well from their little brothers.
It’s just a whole lot of fun catching monsters, as evidenced by the faces of Luke Clausen, Shaw Grigsby and Edwin Evers.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - It’s just a whole lot of fun catching monsters, as evidenced by the faces of Luke Clausen, Shaw Grigsby and Edwin Evers.
Jason Williamson rode consistency of four bags between 15 and 20 pounds, and a couple large bass, to an eighth-place finish.
Photo: James Overstreet - Jason Williamson rode consistency of four bags between 15 and 20 pounds, and a couple large bass, to an eighth-place finish.
A little more meat in the middle of Jeff Kriet’s sandwich – a 12-pound bag on Day 2 in his 53-6 total – could have put the Oklahoman in the Top 12.
Photo: James Overstreet - A little more meat in the middle of Jeff Kriet’s sandwich – a 12-pound bag on Day 2 in his 53-6 total – could have put the Oklahoman in the Top 12.
Big Fish Bobby Lane was in the same boat as McCelland. He slipped on Day 2 with 12-14. Alas, he would have needed a double decker sub with a lot of the finest meats and cheeses to make up the 11-pound deficit to winner Tim Horton.
Photo: James Overstreet - Big Fish Bobby Lane was in the same boat as McCelland. He slipped on Day 2 with 12-14. Alas, he would have needed a double decker sub with a lot of the finest meats and cheeses to make up the 11-pound deficit to winner Tim Horton.
A number of anglers, including Brett Hite, had that one bad day that pulled them down. Hite opened with a 23-3 to stand fourth after Day 1, but a 10-pound day caused a precipitous fall. He eventually had to settle for 14th, just 8 ounces out of the cut.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - A number of anglers, including Brett Hite, had that one bad day that pulled them down. Hite opened with a 23-3 to stand fourth after Day 1, but a 10-pound day caused a precipitous fall. He eventually had to settle for 14th, just 8 ounces out of the cut.
Like we said, catching big fish is a real joy for the anglers. Boyd Duckett, who stood in 94th after Day 1, landed this pig and smiled all the way to the weigh-in stage, and then the bank, as it was surely instrumental in him making the cut and finishing 19th.
Photo: Like we said, catching big fish is a real joy for the anglers. Boyd Duckett, who stood in 94th after Day 1, landed this pig and smiled all the way to the weigh-in stage, and then the bank, as it was surely instrumental in him making the cut and finishing 19th. - Like we said, catching big fish is a real joy for the anglers. Boyd Duckett, who stood in 94th after Day 1, landed this pig and smiled all the way to the weigh-in stage, and then the bank, as it was surely instrumental in him making the cut and finishing 19th.
Yeah, you smile when you catch a fish you think is about 10 pounds. Dean Rojas and his Marshal sent this photo in thinking he was the newest member of the exclusive club.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - Yeah, you smile when you catch a fish you think is about 10 pounds. Dean Rojas and his Marshal sent this photo in thinking he was the newest member of the exclusive club.
While the fish fell short of topping 9, it did help the Arizonan to a huge Day 2 bag of 25-4 and a ninth-place finish.
Photo: James Overstreet - While the fish fell short of topping 9, it did help the Arizonan to a huge Day 2 bag of 25-4 and a ninth-place finish.
Day 2 found a number of experienced anglers sticking to their guns and finding their way. Gary Klein, after standing 59th, blasted his way inside the cut and ending up 35th.
Photo: James Overstreet - Day 2 found a number of experienced anglers sticking to their guns and finding their way. Gary Klein, after standing 59th, blasted his way inside the cut and ending up 35th.
It seems the anglers burned through a number of 1- and 2-pounders as they worked for game-changers. Steve Bowman captured Adrian Avena landing one of his here, with the follow-up fish pump.
Photo: Steve Bowman - It seems the anglers burned through a number of 1- and 2-pounders as they worked for game-changers. Steve Bowman captured Adrian Avena landing one of his here, with the follow-up fish pump.
With several of the lunker catches, the angler knew they’d made the Top 51 cut and earned a check. Avena’s catches found him fishing on Sunday, where he took 12th.
Photo: James Overstreet - With several of the lunker catches, the angler knew they’d made the Top 51 cut and earned a check. Avena’s catches found him fishing on Sunday, where he took 12th.
Even Kevin VanDam is going to crack a big smile when he climbs into the money after a poor Day 1.
Photo: James Overstreet - Even Kevin VanDam is going to crack a big smile when he climbs into the money after a poor Day 1.
Sometimes all it takes to get a check is several big bites. Mark Davis shows off a couple that helped him finished 28th.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - Sometimes all it takes to get a check is several big bites. Mark Davis shows off a couple that helped him finished 28th.
A whole bunch of big bites, like what Jesse Tacoronte got on Day 2 in his monster 28-4 bag, can propel an angler into the Top 12, but failing to back it up can knock you right back out. Tacoronte didn’t top 15 pounds either of the other two days and fell to 16th.
Photo: James Overstreet - A whole bunch of big bites, like what Jesse Tacoronte got on Day 2 in his monster 28-4 bag, can propel an angler into the Top 12, but failing to back it up can knock you right back out. Tacoronte didn’t top 15 pounds either of the other two days and fell to 16th.
Micah Frazier gave the big bass award a good run with this 9-3 in his Day 2 bag of 22-4 that moved him in position to take 20th.
Photo: James Overstreet - Micah Frazier gave the big bass award a good run with this 9-3 in his Day 2 bag of 22-4 that moved him in position to take 20th.
A second-place start like Stephen Browning’s 26-12 on Day 1 will draw cameras.
Photo: A second-place start like Stephen Browning’s 26-12 on Day 1 will draw cameras. - A second-place start like Stephen Browning’s 26-12 on Day 1 will draw cameras.
Browning landed one really good one – oh my – but, even though he was entertaining on Bassmaster LIVE, couldn’t repeat that Day 1 magic in taking 11th.
Photo: James Overstreet - Browning landed one really good one – oh my – but, even though he was entertaining on Bassmaster LIVE, couldn’t repeat that Day 1 magic in taking 11th.
Andy Montgomery climbed into the Top 12 after 23-12 on Day 3, including this 9-0 that was the day’s biggest.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - Andy Montgomery climbed into the Top 12 after 23-12 on Day 3, including this 9-0 that was the day’s biggest.
Montgomery told a story on stage that in the fight to catch the beast, he nearly broke his arm. The next day he said his mother texted him, basically telling him to quit whining, because Andy was 9-10 at birth and you didn’t hear her complaining.
Photo: James Overstreet - Montgomery told a story on stage that in the fight to catch the beast, he nearly broke his arm. The next day he said his mother texted him, basically telling him to quit whining, because Andy was 9-10 at birth and you didn’t hear her complaining.
How about the real magic of Okeechobee. Dave Lefebre dedicated his tournament to former roommate Kyle Mabrey who had died in a one-vehicle accident last week. He said he didn’t do so hot because he stood 100th with 7-7 on Day 1. Then came this tongue-flapper.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - How about the real magic of Okeechobee. Dave Lefebre dedicated his tournament to former roommate Kyle Mabrey who had died in a one-vehicle accident last week. He said he didn’t do so hot because he stood 100th with 7-7 on Day 1. Then came this tongue-flapper.
With bags of 21-5 and Day 3’s best of 25-11, Lefebre made it to Championship Sunday, then climbed up to sixth. Probably need to give Mabrey a big assist.
Photo: James Overstreet - With bags of 21-5 and Day 3’s best of 25-11, Lefebre made it to Championship Sunday, then climbed up to sixth. Probably need to give Mabrey a big assist.
Greg Hackney was among the favorites coming into Okeechobee, a flipper’s dream. He blasted out consistent bags near 20 pounds each of the first three days.
Photo: Bassmaster Marshal - Greg Hackney was among the favorites coming into Okeechobee, a flipper’s dream. He blasted out consistent bags near 20 pounds each of the first three days.
Hackney’s bags included some big beauties, and with a couple 30-pound bags in the event, he was a real threat until struggling on Day 4 and taking fifth.
Photo: James Overstreet - Hackney’s bags included some big beauties, and with a couple 30-pound bags in the event, he was a real threat until struggling on Day 4 and taking fifth.
Hey, there’s Kid Shryock. Fletcher Shryock bombed in his first B.A.S.S. event on Kissimmee before winning the Lake Norman Open in 2011. He showed some Florida chops with a fourth-place finish, which included Day 4’s biggest fish at 7-11 and biggest bag at 21-8.
Photo: James Overstreet - Hey, there’s Kid Shryock. Fletcher Shryock bombed in his first B.A.S.S. event on Kissimmee before winning the Lake Norman Open in 2011. He showed some Florida chops with a fourth-place finish, which included Day 4’s biggest fish at 7-11 and biggest bag at 21-8.
Florida native Cliff Prince was also considered an angler to threaten for the title. Fish like these put him near the top, but he could have used another one as his 15-7 total on Day 4 left him 5-2 back of Horton.
Photo: Florida native Cliff Prince was also considered an angler to threaten for the title. Fish like these put him near the top, but he could have used another one as his 15-7 total on Day 4 left him 5-2 back of Horton. - Florida native Cliff Prince was also considered an angler to threaten for the title. Fish like these put him near the top, but he could have used another one as his 15-7 total on Day 4 left him 5-2 back of Horton.
Ott DeFoe surprised everyone with the event’s top bag of 31-3 on Day 1. (BASSTrakk had him considerably lower). These twins each weighed 8-6, and emcee Dave Mercer grilled DeFoe on what his twin children weighed. DeFoe hemmed and hawed, trying to access the memory banks, before spouting off, “5-7 and, uh, 5-10.” Mercer busted him on not knowing quick enough, but DeFoe came up with a reasonable answer that would be accepted in any court of law. “It just happened,” he said of the fish.
Photo: James Overstreet - Ott DeFoe surprised everyone with the event’s top bag of 31-3 on Day 1. (BASSTrakk had him considerably lower). These twins each weighed 8-6, and emcee Dave Mercer grilled DeFoe on what his twin children weighed. DeFoe hemmed and hawed, trying to access the memory banks, before spouting off, “5-7 and, uh, 5-10.” Mercer busted him on not knowing quick enough, but DeFoe came up with a reasonable answer that would be accepted in any court of law. “It just happened,” he said of the fish.
DeFoe, who won last year’s final regular-season Elite on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis., came 1-5 from taking his second title in three events. He does head to the Classic with some momentum as well as the lead in the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year point standings.
Photo: James Overstreet - DeFoe, who won last year’s final regular-season Elite on the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wis., came 1-5 from taking his second title in three events. He does head to the Classic with some momentum as well as the lead in the 2018 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year point standings.
Big fish made Tim Horton smile for most of the week. His first bite each of the first three days was a monster, and he landed two of them. Here Horton shows the cameraman his lunker he pulled from the reeds.
Photo: Nate Sims - Big fish made Tim Horton smile for most of the week. His first bite each of the first three days was a monster, and he landed two of them. Here Horton shows the cameraman his lunker he pulled from the reeds.
Horton, who opened in third place with 25-15, took the lead with Day 2’s big bag of 30-3, which put him almost 8 pounds ahead of DeFoe. Yes, his fish drew stares.
Photo: Horton, who opened in third place with 25-15, took the lead with Day 2’s big bag of 30-3, which put him almost 8 pounds ahead of DeFoe. Yes, his fish drew stares. - Horton, who opened in third place with 25-15, took the lead with Day 2’s big bag of 30-3, which put him almost 8 pounds ahead of DeFoe. Yes, his fish drew stares.
And they blew the crowd away. The Florida fans sure enjoyed seeing the Elites show everyone how good of a fishery they have.
Photo: James Overstreet - And they blew the crowd away. The Florida fans sure enjoyed seeing the Elites show everyone how good of a fishery they have.
When you need Trip Weldon and Dave Mercer to hold up the rest of your fish, you are doing something.
Photo: James Overstreet - When you need Trip Weldon and Dave Mercer to hold up the rest of your fish, you are doing something.
On Day 4, Horton struggled, and he came in thinking he had blown his 8-10 lead and lost to good friend DeFoe. But his surprising total of 11-7 – he thought he had closer to 10 – gave him his first victory since 2007, which had him crumple to the stage in a giant release of emotion. Big fish can do that to you. Thank you, Big O!
Photo: James Overstreet - On Day 4, Horton struggled, and he came in thinking he had blown his 8-10 lead and lost to good friend DeFoe. But his surprising total of 11-7 – he thought he had closer to 10 – gave him his first victory since 2007, which had him crumple to the stage in a giant release of emotion. Big fish can do that to you. Thank you, Big O!