Yamamoto Baits pro Brett Hite stayed the course from beginning to end and took home the opening event of the 2014 FLW Tour season on Lake Okeechobee out of Clewiston, FL and a check for $125,000. Hite pounded out a 30-pound-plus Day 1 limit and stayed consistent for the next three days to weigh a total of 88 pounds, 14 ounces.
Rounding out the Top 5 were in fourth Halo pro Randall Tharp weighing 79 pounds 3 ounces and in fifth Shimano pro Cody Meyer with 77 pounds 14 ounces.
Efficient use of time key for Hite
"I had a primary open water area I fished, but my secondary pattern area was very close by," said Hite. "Because they were so close to each other I could efficiently move from one area to the other. This allowed me to fish longer than many of the other competitors. That makes a big difference in a tournament."
Secondary pattern helped secure the victory for Hite
"My primary pattern was fishing the open grass areas," said Hite. "Flipping was not my first pattern. I used a chatter bait with a Swimming Senko, a swim jig with a Swimming Senko, a really shallow diving Evergreen crankbait that is similar to a One Minus. I also used a regular Senko for one big fish.
"However, on Florida lakes having only one pattern can hurt you. I had a flipping pattern close by. On Day 3 that is what saved this tournament for me. Moving baits were not working. I picked up my flipping stick with a 1.5-ounce tungsten weight and a large Yamamoto Flappin' Hog and caught the fish I weighed in. Without the secondary pattern, I would not have won."
Hite fished the famous "Monkey Box" area of Okeechobee all four days of the tournament.
Bohannan had pythons on his mind
"One area I was fishing I called the python patch," said Bohannan. "I saw a large python swimming in the area. I hooked a good fish in the reeds and had to get my arm into the water to try and get it. I kept thinking about that python. I stuck my arm in there anyway. Lost the fish, though."
Bohannan's primary offerings were a Gambler Big EZ (a soft plastic swimbait) and flipping various baits.
Watson relied on randomness
"I have been randomly lucky on Lake Okeechobee this week," said Watson. "I randomly caught a big fish on different baits throughout the tournament. I caught one on a speed worm, the biggest bass I've ever caught, 8 pounds 5 ounces, came on a War Eagle spinnerbait and then I flipped up some big fish, too. It really was a lot of random luck this week."