The Florida Division 6 of the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, wraps up its regular season May 18, 2013, on legendary lunker-filled waters of Lake Okeechobee.
The competitors will launch at C. Scott Driver Park, located at 10100 West Highway 78 in the town of Okeechobee, Fla. Anglers may begin fishing at 6:15 a.m. or safe light. The weigh-in will begin at 2:15 p.m. Registration begins at 4 p.m. May 17.
Anglers fishing the Boater Division may weigh in up to five bass, each at least 12 inches long. Co-anglers may weigh in up to three bass. Competitors may only lock through to the Kissimmee River, the Caloosahatchee River and Port St. Lucie Canal.
One of the best bass lakes in the nation, Lake Okeechobee ranks Number 8 on the 2013 Bassmaster magazine list of the top 100 bass waters in the United States. Well-known for producing monster bass, Big O probably holds more double-digit bass than any other lake in the nation. The lake record largemouth weighed more than 15 pounds. About the size of Rhode Island, it covers about 730 square miles and ranks as the largest freshwater lake in Florida, second largest freshwater lake completely within the borders of the lower 48 states and largest freshwater lake contained completely within one state.
The ancient massive lake averages less than nine feet deep. Anglers may find deeper water in the Rim Canal. Huge grass mats and reedy flats cover large portions of inland sea. Many anglers flip the reeds with jigs, tubes or other soft-plastic baits. Others punch through the grass mats with heavy Texas-rigged baits or jigs. Frogs buzzed across the surface or large swimbaits worked enticingly near grass lines can also work well. Toward the middle of the lake, shell beds and other structure can offer some action to anglers throwing Carolina rigs, deep-running crankbaits or other temptations.
During the Feb. 25, 2012, BWS tournament on Lake Okeechobee, Ron Yentz of Fort Lauderdale won the Boater Division with a five-bass tournament limit weighing 23.40 pounds for a 4.68-pound average. He anchored his bag with a 6.28-pound kicker. Yentz caught most of his fish around peppergrass with a copper colored Gambler Big EZ swimbait.
James W. Williams of Apopka set the division lunker standard with a 7.28-pounder that hit a blue Bitters soft plastic bait near the north shore of the sprawling natural lake.
In the Co-Angler Division during that tournament, Zack L. Zwick of Kissimmee, Fla., landed a three-fish division daily limit going 12.38 pounds for a 4.13-pound average. He anchored his catch with a 6.06-pounder. Zwick caught most of his fish in the Harney Pond Canal area with a big worm fished in about three feet of water. Edwin R. Rivera of Orlando won the Co-Angler Division lunker honors with a 7.36-pound mossback that hit a big swimbait fished near Lakeport in about three feet of water.
Click here for Florida fishing license information or call 888-347-4356.
The two-day divisional championship will be held Sept. 14-15 out of Camp Mack near Lake Wales to fish the Kissimmee Chain. At the end of the season, one BWS angler will win the opportunity to compete in the 2014 Bassmaster Classic.
For more information on this tournament, call Billy Benedetti, tournament manager, at 256-230-5632 or ABA at 256-232-0406. Online, see www.americanbassanglers.com.