Congrats to our boy Casey Martin, with a 6th place finish at the 2013 Lake Okeechobee FLW Everstart Series.  Casey is just off the hook good.  Follow him in 2013 on the FLW Tour, he’s gonna crush it:  caseymartinfishing.com

And here is Casey at the FLW Tour, where he again took 6th place!  Can you imagine a Top 10 in your rookie event as a boater?  Sick:


Keys to Casey’s success:

Picasso Tungsten

Casey Martin Signature Series Swim Jig from Omega

Z-Man Chatter bait




Trevor Fitzgerald is lethal around grass.  He is a Florida native and gets it done around grass.  He weighed in 25 pounds this day, and gives you some insights into his gear.  Trevor and his wife operate Fitzgerald Rods and they are known as a solid, well built, quality rod, that are tested and designed (among other things) to handle heavy braided lines, big fish, and grass.

Trevor’s Tackle:

Gambler Jig Zilla

Gambler Mega Daddy (Green Pumpkin)

80 Pound Sunline FX

Fitzgerald 7’10” Big Jig/Mat Punching Rod

Keep an eye on Trevor.  He finished 2nd place in this event, and actually tied the guy weight wise, but lost the tie breaker.  I have the entire weigh in on film (most of it) and plan on sharing some highlights from the guys who were in the Top.  Okeechobee is a wonderful fishery, and it’s interesting to hear how guys catch ’em and the gear they use.  That Gambler Jig Zillais off the hook.  The jig bite on Okeechobee is there, and this just adds another dimension.   Adding your own creature/craw bait to a unskirted jig head, in the >1 ounce range.


Casey Martin is a Canadian, and he blends in as a Southerner about as well as I do.   However, when you put a rod and reel in Casey’s hand, you’d think he was born and raised on the banks of the Tennessee River or in the lowland grass fisheries of Florida.   Casey fishes the FLW Tour as a co-angler and has won 3 events (the 2011 FLW Tour Open Guntersville “A-Rig” Super Nova Tournament,  2011 FLW Tour Open on Champlain, and the 2012 FLW Tour Major on Kentucky Lake) in the last 12 months.  Having a chance to fish with Casey during the off limits time prior to the 2012 FLW Tour Open on Lake Okeechobee afforded me some time to fish with Casey, and this blog post and the adjoining video are the highlights.  Casey has been working hard the last 5 years, living on Lake Guntersville, fishing with his pals Derek Remitz and Craig Dowling to hone his tournament and grass fishing approaches.  Clearly, it’s paying off.

Punching ’em in the mouth. Casey, the 4.20 Sweet Beaver, 1.5 oz of Picasso Tungsten and the 4/0 Owner Twistlock Flippin Hook getting it done, and then things tightened up a bit….

Casey keeps his grass fishing simple.  It goes like this:

  • Have a Sweet Beaver and BB Cricket ready to go as your punch baits (a full bodied punch bait on a 1.5 ounce Picasso tungsten weight, and a smaller profile Gambler BB Cricket as your fall back, the fish are pressured and not biting the Sweet Beaver anymore, more finesse punch bait)
  • Get in the habit of having perfect mechanics in grass punching.  Never waste movements, time or water by making the most precise and efficient casts you can (ie, his sling cast where he never touches his bait and slings an incoming bait back out using the momentum of the incoming pendulum).  Keep yourself in position and be ready for a hard upward hookset, get on the reel quickly, and pull fish out from the thick stuff as quickly as possible for the best chances of boating ’em.
  • Jig fishing.  Use the jig to fish the sparse stuff, where you don’t need punching gear to get thru the vegetation.   Sparse reed patches, isolated clumps of grass, and where ever you don’t need punching stuff to get a bait in.
  • Keep your hardbait selection simple.  Use a Devil’s Horse or gold Rattle Trap to cover water and find fish that are in between your flip and pitch spots.  There is no need to re-invent the wheel here.  Rattle Traps and Devils Horses in Florida are like drop shots and swimbaits in California.  They are proven and work, so just go with it.

Here is a breakdown of the gear Casey was using:

Punching Setup #1:

Reaction Innovations 4.20 Sweet Beaver, Penetration Color

1.5 ounce Picasso Tunsten Weight

Bobber Stops to Peg Weight

4/0 Owner Twistlock Flippin Hook or 4/0 Gamakatsu Flippin Hook

70# Daiwa Samurai Braid

7’5″ G-Loomis Mossyback Flippin Sticks with Left Handed Shimano Curado 200 or Chronarch Reels

Finesse Punching Setup #2

Gambler BB Cricket in Junebug

1 ounce Picasso Tungsten Weight

Bobber Stop to Peg Weight

3/0 Gamakatsu Flippin’ Hook

70# Daiwa Samurai Braid

7’5″ G-Loomis Mossyback Flippin Sticks with Left Handed Shimano Curado 200 or Chronarch Reels

Grass Flippping Jigs

Medlock Jigs are difficult to find.  The only place I know is: Lorida Bait and Tackle:  863-655-5510

Alternatives to the Medlock Jig are the:

Strike King Hack Attack Jig (1 oz)

Gambler Ugly Otter Trailer for Jig

Hardbait Setups:

Devils Horse   3/8oz. (any color)

Rat-L-Trap  1/2 ounce Gold Shad color

15# Seagar Florocarbon  (for Rattle Trap fishing)


Follow Casey Martin’s fishing at caseymartinfishing.com.  Casey is on his way to a stellar career in professional fishing, and is already competing and winning at the sport’s highest levels and continues to soak up and re-apply information and techniques he is learning with brilliance.  Casey works with the best companies in the business like:  Omega Custom Tackle, Picasso, Rat-L-Trap, Power Pole, Evinrude Outboards and Ranger Boats.   If you have a chance to interact with these companies, let them know Casey is out there not only representing this companies, but showing these products in real world/tournament usage.   It’s one thing to talk about products, its another to get film and footage that validates the things you are trying to convey.   Casey works hard at his fishing, while still holding down contracted work as an electrical engineer for the automotive industry.   Look for Casey to ease his way into fishing from the front of the boat at the FLW Tour level, but what is the rush?   Casey has nothing but time and wisdom to make good decisions at the right time.  In the mean time, look for him at the top of the leaderboard at the Everstart, BFL, and of course the FLW Tour Co-Angler levels for now.

“Anything I can do, Casey can do better! ( and faster, quicker, less complicated and more efficiently)”


***The ‘striping’ caused in some clips of the video were caused from a failed hard drive.  I went the thru the painful and expensive ‘data recovery’ process, hence the striping and distortion.***


“Che Seville”

Album: The Left Hand Side

Label:  Body Deep Music

Casey Martin punching hyacynth on Okeechobee
Punching requires more than one setup. Here Casey Martin made an adjustment to the Gamber BB Cricket and 1 ounce Picasso Tungsten, because the smaller profile Cricket and 1 ounce weight punches just as good or better than a Sweet Beaver and a 1.5 ounce Picasso Punch Weight. But the smaller profile gets more bites and at times, slides into the thick stuff better. There is significant difference in the size of the Sweet Beaver vs. the BB Cricket, and the hardcore grass punchers have both on deck at all times.

Without a doubt, punching thru hydrilla and hyacinth mats is the winning pattern on Okeechobee right now (well, unless the big girls move up on the beds, which was happening when I left Okeechobee, but still, get a handle on punching if you’re headed to Okeechobee or have shallow grass in your domain).  Randall Tharp blew away the field with a 4 day total over 100 pounds (again).   Punching is all about putting a small profile bait into and thru the thickest and gnarliest stuff you can find.   Heavy rods, heavy braid, strong round bend hooks and small compact baits that slide thru the grass are the tools of punching.    The keys to being the best puncher you can be are location, location, location, approach, boat position, and being able to mathematically make the most and best punches (meaning, you rarely have a bunk cast where you don’t punch thru the mat and have to re-try, or spending less time cleaning off your bait of grass, and/or making the highest percentage punches, knowing where the fish are likely to be holding and keying on those areas).     Find mixes of ‘good grass’ where hydrilla and hyacynth mix together, or reeds and hyacynths or wherever multiple grasses come together, and find the thickest places you can get a bait and go to work.

Punching Gear:

Rod:  G Loomis GLX 7’5″  Heavy Action Flipping Stick
Reel:   Shimano Chronarch 200 E or Daiwa Zillion
Line:   70 Pound Daiwa Samurai Braid

Owner Twistlock Flippin Hook
Owner Twistlock Flippin Hook--I asked Casey to try them to help me 'test' them. He was pleasantly suprised at how well the hooks not only rigged the baits, but how beefy and robust the hooks were to withstand the rigors of heavy braided line and stout flippin. sticks. These hooks don't require a snell knot either. Give 'em a try sometime.

Heavy Punching Rig:
4/0 Owner Twistlock Flippin Hook or  4/0 Paycheck Hook w/Barb
Reaction Innovations Sweet Beaver Penetration Color
1.5 ounce Picasso Punch Weight w/ Pegged with Paycheck Punch Stop

Okeechobee mat punching
Grass mats come in all shapes and sizes and have an endless number of places to put your bait. Remember, smaller profile baits require less weight to get them to punch thru, and if the fish aren't responding the Beaver, downsize and lighten up a hair, you'll be suprised how well the fish will respond. They see a lot of Beavers on 1.5 ounce weights!!!

“Lite” Punching Rig:

Gambler BB Cricket (Junebug )

3/0 Owner Twistlock Flippin Hook or 3/0 Paycheck BMF Hook w/Barb

1 ounce Picasso Punch Weight Pegged with Paycheck Punch Stop


The Gambler BB Cricket is to punching and heavy grass fishing, what the Speed Worm or Skinny Dipper is to swimming baits and worms in shallow grass fishing...one of those, don't leave home without its.

Other Punch Baits to Consider:  The baits below were working on Okeechobee too and might fit your style or you might want to deviate from the norms a bit, but know they were absolutely catching fish on Okeechobee for the 2012 FLW Tour and Everstart Tournaments.

Ugly Otter

Yum Wooly Bugger

KVD Rodent