Team National Guard pro Scott Martin of Clewiston, Fla., caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 3 ounces Saturday to win $50,000 in the FLW Series Eastern Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee with a four-day catch of 20 bass weighing 71-9.
The catch gave him the win by a 2-pound, 3-ounce margin over John Cox of Debary, Fla., who caught a total of 20 bass weighing 69-6 and earned $20,000.
“I’m about to cry after this one,” said Martin, who has won more than $1 million in FLW Outdoors events. “It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve lived here my whole life and I fished my first FLW tournament here and I’ve been fairly successful here and been in the top 10 a few times. But to win one and keep it here on the lake is awesome. For the city of Okeechobee and the city of Clewiston and all the communities around the lake … it’s unbelievable.
“I wanted to win this tournament and I focused,” Martin added. “When you focus in on something … when you believe it, you achieve it. If you doubt it, you’ll do without it. That’s been my motto all week.”
Martin opened the tournament in fourth place Wednesday with five bass weighing 21-4 that he caught on junebug-colored Lake Fork Trophy Lures “Live” Magic Shad and watermelon red Reaction Innovations Trixie Sharks while fishing the South Bay area. On Thursday he added another five bass weighing 14-14 to move into second place. He then caught five bass weighing 12-4 Friday to make the crucial top-5 cut in second place. Saturday Martin stuck with the baits he’d used the first three days of competition and sealed his win. Martin also received $6,000 for being the Ranger Cup program winner.
“You try to put yourself in position to win tournaments and to make the right decisions on the final day and have a great day …it was just one of those days that would be hard to ever duplicate,” Martin said.
Martin said he returned to the area he fished all week and again had it to himself. He said he slowed down and picked the area apart and relied on GPS to cover different trails through grass than he fished the previous three days. Martin said he retrieved the baits steadily on the surface in heavily matted areas.
“I think the key to my success this week is I haven’t caught many of the males,” Martin said. “I saw lots of males every day. I could have caught my limit every morning and had 10 to 12 pounds, but I left them there on purpose. With the full moon coming, I wanted those males to bring the females. So I just marked them and kept fishing and fishing.
“I think it’s a mistake to catch everything you see, and I’ve done it, and it’s stupid, really with a full moon,” Martin said.
Cox, who led the Okeechobee event for the first three days of competition, said conditions totally changed for him on the last day.
“I went to my area that had a lot of fish in it and the wind was blowing into it,” said Cox, who completed his first FLW Series event. “I thought the rocks in front of it would protect it some, but I got in there and it was muddy.”
Cox said he fished a while in his first area, caught one fish and relocated east of the Kissimmee River. He managed to catch five small keepers off beds and later culled another keeper.
Rounding out the top five pros are:
3rd: Team Chevy pro Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 20 bass, 63-6, $15,000
4th: J. Todd Tucker, Moultrie, Ga., 20 bass, 58-14, $10,000
5th: Tom Mann Jr., Buford, Ga., 20 bass, 58-8, $9,000
A complete list of results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Overall there were 25 bass weighing 62 pounds, 14 ounces caught by five pros Saturday. The catch included five five-bass limits.
George Kapiton of Inverness, Fla., won the Co-angler Division and a Ranger 177TR with a 90 horsepower engine and an additional $2,038 in the optional pot Friday with a three-day total of 35 pounds followed by Marlon Crowder of Tampa, Fla., in second place with 33-13 worth $5,000.
Martin and Crowder each won a $1,000 gift card as part of the new Cabela’s Angler Cash program. Beginning in 2010, Cabela’s is offering pro and co-anglers the opportunity to register and win a $1000 gift card for being the highest qualified finisher in each division at all FLW Series events, making the stakes even higher in an already rich award package. Anglers can visit FLWOutdoors.com for a complete list of rules and to register.
In FLW Series competition, anglers and co-anglers are also vying for valuable points that could help them qualify for the 2011 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of bass fishing.
The Lake Okeechobee event was the first of four FLW Series Eastern Division tournaments that will be held in 2010. The next FLW Series tournament will be held March 10-13 on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala. The event will be hosted by the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce and boats will launch from Lakepoint Resort State Park in Eufaula.
The remaining tournaments are scheduled for:
Aug. 25-28 Lake Champlain Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Sept. 15-18 Lake Chickamauga Chattanooga, Tenn.
Coverage of the Lake Okeechobee tournament will be broadcast in high-definition (HD) on VERSUS. “FLW Outdoors”, will air May 2 from 12:30 to 1:30 ET. “FLW Outdoors,” hosted by Jason Harper, is broadcast to approximately 500 million households worldwide.
ABOUT FLW OUTDOORS FLW Outdoors, named after Forrest L. Wood, the legendary founder of Ranger Boats, is the largest fishing tournament organization in the world offering anglers worldwide the opportunity to compete for millions over the course of 189 tournaments in 2010. FLW Outdoors has also taken fishing mainstream with FLW Fantasy Fishing awarding the largest prizes in the history of fantasy sports. FLW Outdoors memberships are available featuring numerous benefits including Player’s Advantage. For more information about FLW Outdoors and its tournaments, visit FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000. For more information about FLW Fantasy Fishing, visit FantasyFishing.com. FLWOutdoors.com