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.

That fish inhaled the jig. Notice the sparse reed and little pool.  That is where the fish will bed in the good areas, and the jig is an excellent bait on Okeechobee to pitch around the sparse stuff.
That fish inhaled the jig. Notice the sparse reed and little pool. That is where the fish will bed in the good areas, and the jig is an excellent bait on Okeechobee to pitch around the sparse stuff.

It was brought to my attention from a friend that I didn’t do a blog post about my Okeechobee Everstart tournament.  My mind has been busy dealing with all the things of starting back to work at a new job, finding an apartment, finding furniture (I arrived with a coffee mug, and a ton of fishing gear, of course), and just getting settled into a new life and lifestyle.  Okeechobee has been in a funky cycle, but don’t let that fool you.  I have a feeling the FLW Tour event coming up out of Clewiston is going to be another slug fest.  Okeechobee has had really high water, and crazy thick grass.  But with cooler nights and days, the grass is thinning out, mats are literally melting away, and things are changing, last I heard and last I fished.

Day One:

I have a huge open water area I’ve been fishing in the Bird Island/North Shore area that I was fishing last year, that I found a good school of fish holding in. I could not find the jig fish that were loaded on Observation Shoal last year, and the Monkey Box itself, was almost completely choked out, and the areas that were fishable, just didn’t seem to have fish like they normally do.  Not to say they aren’t there, I just didn’t find many areas with fish in practice.  So to Bird Island, I went. I wanted to throw the 3:16 Sunfish and throw the Magnum Speed Worm in this open water and I figured I could usually get one good bite a day doing it, and come up with 12-14 pounds. I knew I wasn’t on winning fish, so you just go with the best you got.  The Magnum Speed Worm, pegged with a 1/4 ounce weight, and a big 6/0 hook can be swam thru the eel grass and hydrilla, but it’s also got this great ‘power Texas Rig’ fishability where  you hop, drop, yo-yo and then swim the bait thru the grass.  I was killing them on the Magnum Speed Worm, and don’t be shocked if you hook a big one on that bait.   I was buzzing the outside edges of some pepper grass clumps with the 3:16 Sunfish, and sure enough, I got one almost 6 pounds to come out and choke the bait.  I fished loose, had fun and just made the most of my bites and weighed 14-8 or something, and was stoked to be in the Top 30.

The 3:16 Sunfish is not weedless, but if you'll notice the sparse reeds, there is also hydrilla on the bottom, I look for 'swim lanes' and buzz the bait thru the grass in areas like this.  Not a giant, but 3-4 pounders are always good, and fun to catch, especially on braid.
The 3:16 Sunfish is not weedless, but if you’ll notice the sparse reeds, there is also hydrilla on the bottom, I look for ‘swim lanes’ and buzz the bait thru the grass in areas like this. Not a giant, but 3-4 pounders are always good, and fun to catch, especially on braid.


Day Two:

Back to Bird Island.  The bite started much slower. I had to grind to get something going.  I keep telling myself I need to fish looser in tournaments.  There is a great article Gary Dobyns once did about ‘Fishing Chicken’…google it, maybe it can be found.  Bottom line, don’t get so caught up in your area or gameplan you don’t bounce if things aren’t going right.  I made a good decision to head over to an area I knew had a few fish, and abandoned my best water for a while.  Good move.  We immediately got into some good keeper fish on the Magnum Speed Worm and I had some boils on the 3:16 Sunfish.  I filled up my limit and then bounced back to my good water.  The bite seemed to be much better later in the day, and on Day 2 I was a late flight, so had an extra hour to fish.  Well, I got a line jump bite on the Magnum Speed Worm as my bait was falling back to the bottom in the sweetest deepest section of some eel grass.  I swing, she aint moving, and I knew it was a biggun from the bite and from the hookset.  Well, finally after a good 2-3 second tug of war, my rig comes flinging back at me, and my hook is completely opened up and bent out, hook point rolled over and I knew I’d just lost to a beast.  Bummer.  I didn’t get my big bite on Day 2.  Well, I culled a few times and ultimately weighed 12-6 or something, and ended up 29th place for the event.

The Top 10

The Top 10 weigh in was cool to watch.  You always learn something when you hear how the guys who really got it done caught ’em.  The jig bite was on, just not in the areas of the lake they had bit for me last year, and I didn’t spend enough time (much shorter practice this year than in years past).  J&S was clearly an area where the big fish had moved into and the guys that slowed down and pitched jigs and senkos and creature baits in the right stretches, got some big bites.   I have never seen a weigh in where there was a tie.  Trevor Fitzgerald was looking like he would win, but homeboy pulled out a 9 pounder or something stupid as his last fish, and they tied…but since homeboy had the lead going into Day 3, that was the tie breaker. I can only imagine how Trevor felt. Ouch.   I wish the guys fishing the Tour a lot of luck out there. I think it could be an awesome event.  The fishing after the tournament was getting better and better, and since off limits, things got kinda cool and cold, and the way Okeechobee flows this time of year, a good cold snap is good because when it warms back up, the fish go nuts.  And the big ones moves in.

Shaye Baker had a 19 pound day 2, snatching chatterbaits and rattle traps on the outside grass edges in a good deep to shallow spot with that black water.
Shaye Baker had a 19 pound day 2, snatching chatterbaits and rattle traps on the outside grass edges in a good deep to shallow spot with that black water.

Shaye Baker

Want to see something cool, check out the below video.  This is Shaye Baker’s Day 2 fishing, getting it done snatching ChatterBaits in some outside grass.  I have gotten to know Shaye the last year or so, and I am impressed with his fishing and aptitude toward contributing meaningful content to the world of fishing.  Shaye is on his way to a fantastic career in the world of fishing and media, and he’s got a lot of good things brewing at both FLW and BASS, so expect to see his name often as part of the few guys who know how to cover bass fishing, and sharing information—and doing it with style and soul.  Shaye finished 11th in the event, and is a solid fisherman too, but is wise enough to realize the challenges of making a living with a rod and reel. You cannot just be good, you have to be exceptional.


Casey Martin:

Oh yeah, Casey Martin….Congrats to Casey, with a 6th Place finish and a solid showing on Okeechobee.  I’m telling you, this guy is going to crush it in 2013 fishing the Tour as a rookie. In fact, FLW is going to be sending a film crew to follow Casey around and document his rookie season, the life on the road and the fishing part.  Casey is exceptional.  His ability to keep things simple, focus on his strengths, and make gameday decisions is impressive. Casey went out with his flipping and punching rods and got 7 pound bites on Day 1&2 and put them in the boat, and that is the difference between good and exceptional on tournament day.   Follow Casey at: caseymartinfishing.com





 The 2012 Ouachita River Everstart Championship

I really suck at tournament fishing sometimes.  My buddy Casey Martin, finished 5th place, running the same pattern, in fact, we stayed in the same hotel room for the event, and he whacked ’em to make it all four days and I went home a kook, again, at the Everstart Championship.   The Ouachita River is like 70 miles of main river, and another 70 miles of other tributary creeks and rivers and bayous and backwaters galore.   There were no less than 25% jon boat in this event.  Guys came prepared for stump jumping and fishing in the extreme backwaters.   I did not.  I came to fish my game, and found a pretty decent pattern on the first day of practice, drop shotting 4.5″ Roboworms in Bold Bluegill in the mouths of pockets/backwaters, just off the main river channel.  In fact, there were fish in the main river channel, on any point or rock pile and in the laydowned trees.  Now, you have to understand that catching 5-7 keeper 12 inch fish right now is pretty much whacking them.  It took 6 pounds per day to get paid.  I caught 5 pounds per day.   I had a good gameplan, and Casey just did what Casey does and it speaks volumes to his fishing versus mine.  My practice became San Diego style worm fishing.  However, it was a popular pattern, as many guys stayed close and fished around the weigh-in/release area and did well.  I had the right idea, but what I will let Casey tell you for sure is that he found the better quality fish AND got them to eat.  Umbrella rig for sure and Casey had a trick one, and the Boing topwater lure on Day 2 with a solid 3-4 pound fish that escalated him to 8 pounds per day, which he for sure was in the drivers seat, just because cutting to 20 and the 10 boats (in days 3 and 4 consecutively), he would have much freer reign on the mouths of creeks and pockets and his prime choice point/mouth which was at the intersection of D’Arbonne and the main river channel.    Duh.   Ask anyone about the Ouchita River and D’Arbonne is the most popular creek/bayou and it’s big and gnarly and is like 45 miles with 5 MPH zones and an abundance of stumps, logs and bayou.  It’s where some fish got caught, but this tournament wasn’t dominated by back bayou water necessarily.  Some main river played in bigtime, but understand, you have giant cypress trees and oaks and black or really dirty coffee with cream style water.  Heck, this where the Duck Commanders live.  Monroe, LA you were great, but man, you guys got some tough fishing around there.   Especially when it comes to boat handling and navigation.  Rivers are not generally what I like to see after the name of a body of water. I’m a lake guy, but as the White River, where I live and watch daily, I’m learning.

Casey fishing another Top 10 Cut at the FLW Everstart in May 2012 on Guntersville. Casey ‘slipped up’ this day, when low 20s pound bags suck. Justin Lucas had 30+. Sickness.


Great job Casey Martin, and the BETTER news is Casey just signed up for the 2013 FLW Tour as a Boater!!!  Casey will update his blog about his tournament and he can fill in the gaps and day 3 & 4. I’m such a loser, I didn’t even hang around for Days 3&4 which I almost always do. I am a little lost and did sit still easily lately, but anyway… I am so stoked, pumped and definitely jealous that Casey and many others are fishing the Tour in 2013.  It’s a great schedule and with only 6 tournaments for some guys and Casey is one.  Fewer tournaments is less risk for some of us (me included), and the lakes are lakes I feel like I know pretty well (save Grand Lake), and Casey too. I’m just sick to not have my deposits in.  Casey knows how to fish tournaments, and is just on fuego.   He has fished the FLW Tour the last few years as a Co-Angler, which means, the non boater who gets partnered with the Pro for the day.  Casey has won like $150K from the back of the boat, and does really well at the Everstart and BFL Levels as a boater, so it’s not like he can’t or doesn’t fish from the front of the boat well, he was just wise to take the education that fishing as a Co-Angler affords, and took that to off the chart levels, so this is a natural progression.  Casey is up for the challenge and I know he will do really well.     I am just so lost at times with where I’m at, and so addicted to tournament fishing, yet even more addicted to throwing bigbaits, and I love the blogging, but I’m just struggling financially and in no position to fish the FLW Tour in 2013, even though I’d like to.  I asked Bill Taylor if he’d take 3 deposits (vs. the required 6) and a handshake, he just laughed.  I have to laugh too.  I’m crazy to be flirting with the FLW Tour. I’m just hoping to fish the Everstart on Okeechobee in early January, win the damn thing, and go from there!!! HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH.  How is that for an addict?


There is a direct relationship between the amount of photos and videos I shoot and how well I’m fishing. I took very very very few pictures, and zero video. I figured I could catch 5-6 pounds per day and did. Bold Bluegill is color of Robo Worm I highly recommend. Throw it in 4.5 or 6 or 7 inch and in the dirty Ouachita River, it was catching them really well. One of the staple drop shot worms and colors for me.


Casey staked out the BEST mouth of a creek.  The most major creek with the most history in it, he choose that one to focus on (I decided the ones upriver were less pressured and could be milked better), and what was key to him was it had better fish on it.  And not only that, Casey had better tricks up his sleeve than most to catch them.  He found an angle he could throw a prototype Picasso A-Rig called the ‘bait ball’ and he told me he had like 18 fish the Day 1 of the event fishing the exact same cast (uphill) with his umbrella rig that features tiny blades and a much smaller profile than most u rigs you see.    That is how Casey caught 8 pounds the first day, and followed it up with 8 pounds on the second day.  Guess what he caught the big fish on Day 2?  A Boing Topwater bait.  This is a new walking bait with a cool ball on wire noise maker rattle inside that gives it a strange ‘boing’ sound, but clearly the fish ate it.  He caught one 3 pounds on it.  The bait was thick all over the Ouchita River. I mean, you find and see bait everywhere.   And occassionally fish would push the balls to the surface and could be caught.  I caught fish on the Picasso School E Rig with 3″ Big Hammers (silver phantom), and J-Will Swimbait heads in 1/8 Ounce in the tournament.   But my fish were squeakers. In fact, I didn’t have 5 fish on Day 2 either, so that really hurt, but ultimately one more fish I was on wouldn’t have helped.  I needed high 12 pounds, like 12-10 to get paid. I had 10-2 for the event, and never caught one over 2 pounds in the practice or tournament, and lots of swimbaits got thrown.  No swimbait bite to speak of, besides the U Rig.  No backwater fish for most, but some did find good sacks.  Is Brandon Medlock sick or what?  Guy broke down on Day 1, comes back on Day 2 with 14 pounds and is like Top 5 and then sticks 15 on Day 3 before struggling on Day 4….but dang, a 14 or 15 pound sack for 2 days in a row, you gotta be bad to find that on the Ouachita River I saw!  Some guys found some backwater fish, but the main river was a player for sure.  Lots of guys cashed checks fishing within site or around the bend or two from the weigh in. I fished there myself some too.   You will have to read Casey’s blog post to get the full scoop on his tournament.  I yo-yo’d Red Eye Shads, fished umbrella rigs, and drop shotted the mouths of creeks mostly, but had a few good channel swings, clay points, and banks that seemed to be holding fish.    The problem of course was many guys found the same fish, because the backwater were sucking and the main river became the clear choice, so it wasn’t easy friendly fishing all the time out there.   You had to defend spots and try to manage water best you could.  The wind was either blowing the wrong way for me, or not at all for my red eye shad bite. I had 2 sneaky spots I felt I could load up and get some good keepers, but they never panned out.   Anyway, congrats to Casey and boo to Matt.  Is it time to go to Florida yet?  MP

Boot&Vortex Tails, weedless and not, braided line and 5 good bites a day, is that too much to ask for?

This is my 4th year on Okeechobee.  The lake is fishing WAY differently than in years past.  The lake is choked out.  The vegetation so thick in most areas, you simply cannot get to a lot of areas that we used to fish.  The fish are more main lake/outside edge of the grass line, where they’ve never really been when I’ve bee here.   What that means is new locations, and new ways to catch them.  You can actually fish hanging trebles and non-weedless baits, but with the water falling, weedless is better than not most times.  Still, new lake to me, fishing pretty old school I imagine, lots of flipping and punching going on, and just light pitching.   But unless you know where the big ones are, that is a brutal way to go about Okeechobee, and the zillions of miles of shoreline grass, mats, and edges.

Guys are going to smash them. I mean, 25-30 pound sacks.  Flipping and punching.  I’m not doing either. I’m going with the swimmers.  I have a small-medium-large approach, and let me be clear, I’m fishing the Everstart and FLW Tour Event, so this is the first of two events I’ll be fishing, so I’ve got reason to not fully disclose everything, until after the Tour Event (Feb 12th).  I’ve had some big days on the grass swimmers.  I’m fishing new baits, new water, new techniques and taking my bigbait approach to the grass, and some days, it works.  However, the last 2 days of practice have sucked.  I haven’t been catching them quite like I want to be at all.  They aren’t eating the bigbaits right now for some reason.  They sorta bump it and I’m talking 5-7 bites on a GOOD day, more like 1-2 bites some days.    This isn’t the Okeechobee where you catch 20-40 fish no problem.   I could come in with 1 or 2 fish tomorrow, but I’ve made up my mind to fish my game, fish my strengths and sorta let this be a test run for the Tour Open.

Braided line, bigbaits, and 8 foot rods can be killer.  Okeechobee can give and Okeechobee can take.  This place flip flops from whipping my butt and stoking me out.  Tomorrow, I’m boat 12, which wasn’t what I wanted, but whatever, first flight, early weigh in, gotta go for it.  I know I’m around some quality fish, and God willing, I get 5 bites in the boat.    Have a long day on Friday, and our weather has been pretty much gorgeous, but again, the lake is different.  In year’s past, I’d be putting 75-100 fish in the boat per day with 80 degree air temps.  It’s just not that way, despite the good weather.   The flippers and punchers are going to get ’em, but only a handful are going to get the big ones.  Too many guys are struggling and scratching.  I’m way better at focusing on 5 bites with a swimmer in my hand than punching a Beaver with the rest of the world.  You want to talk about overwhelming, try tackling Okeechobee with a flipping rod.    So thick and choked this year too.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.   Gonna take all my powers and skills to get 5 fish in the boat tomorrow. I’m not fishing for 2 pounders and fishing the safe and conservative route. I’ve never had fish eating the baits I’m throwing, leading up to a tournament and I gotta go for it.  This could be a big disaster for this Everstart, but even so, I’m considering this a sort of dress rehearsal for the Tour Event.   I just don’t feel like compromising and playing it conservative.  I’m tired of fishing every game but my own.  I’ve had as many as 12-15 bites and 25 pounds easy on my better days.   The weather has been warming things up and I expect boys to catch ’em, just not everyone is going to have 20+ pounds. I guess it will take 12 pounds per day to get a check. I think I can get 12 pounds in 2-3 of the right bites per day.   No bed fish going, but that too might change come Tour time.    Anywho, gonna try and have some fun, fish my strengths and my game, and if Day 1 doesn’t pan out, even more reason on Day 2 to go back and do it all over because I’m not gonna get 30 pounds fishing texas rigged trick worms, which is a good bait right now!


alabama rig kentucky lake
"John Brown". The Catalyst of the War. War on closed minded approaches to rigs and rigging. The Alabama Rig, "Old Blue", simple, made from quality components and solid terminal tackle just helped us all catch a lot more fish.

I’m sitting in Calvert City, waiting for Jet-A-Marina to give me a call, to let me know my lower unit has been delivered, and then installed.  Thanking Yamaha for standing by their warranty, and their support. Of course, I’d like’d to have seen the Yamaha Service crew at the Everstart Event, but that is business and fishing.   So no fishing for me since the tournament, just making hard and from the hip decisions everywhere.

I’m not going to give my $.02 on the Alabama Rig, yet.  I haven’t had a chance to really fish it hard and carefree, swimbait style,  and do everything I want to do.  So, I wanted to share some things that were in direct relation to the Rig.   As things were unfolding with Paul Elias at G-Land, I was making modifications to my presentations to be more ‘multirig’ or ‘polyrig’ in style.  You couldn’t just go get a ‘rig’ to go fish.  It was crazy hearing all this and not even being able to see one or hold one to fabricate your own from, so we just made do.   The fish are on a shad bite, they hunt in small wolf packs in places, and small bait balls that have broken away from the main bait ball are a damn sure good way to get the fish fired up and focused.

quad blade spinnerbait
Quad Bladed Spinnerbaits started catching fish as we scrambled to do anything to start casting baits that made balls of bait, not just one or two baits. I believe we'll be seeing spinnerbaits with many more blades and setups as a result of the Rig Effect

The Booyah Quad Blade Spinnerbait…Someone riddle me this:  Why is there only one spinnerbait with a quad (bonzer!) blade setup (generally available kind)? And it only weighs 3/8 oz?  Why not a 6 blade?  Think about the implications of multirigs and using teasers and creating schools and predator>prey setups that is about to explode.  I have so many ideas and thoughts lately about the Rig Effect it’s hard for me to organize them or even share them in some cases, because the fish catching and money making implications are profound.   Every lure company in North America should have had an ‘all hands’ meeting with the team to strategize about multirigs.

Not only is there going to be a huge amount of rigs created (make your own rig, seriously, its not very difficult to do), there is a viral effect of ideas and innovations that rivals Facebook! (well, probably not).  The Alabama Rig just points out our closed minded approach to rigging as a bass fishermen.   Teasers and umbrellas have been around since the beginning of time.   I’m just excited it catches fish so well.  I can understand throwing 100 lures at once, you expect to hook something, but 5 baits isn’t some disgusting overkill.  I mean we are catching one maybe two fish at a time at best.  You could get 5 sure, but its about presentation and creating the school.

Grass Minnow Double Rig
I started catching 'busting fish' in the back of pockets on the Grass Minnow Double Rig...Tie on one Grass Minnow with a Palomor Knot, leave a long tag end, thread the line back thru the nose of the Grass Minnow like a drop shot rig, come down thru and then tie on Grass Minnow #2 with a Palomar. The Double Grass Minnow has got good weight, but is still a tough Rig at times to fish if its super windy and rough, which it was during the tournament.

10 vortexes.  Each bait gives off a unique vortex, one on each side of the tail, so 10 vortexes created by a 5 way Rig.  In Southern Trout Eaters, Ken Huddleston says:  “I believe bigger, more mature fish will analyze a bait, and if everything is right, it will commit to the bait”.    Ken was talking about trophy fish.  But just as occasionally a trophy fish will act like a 2 pounder, the 2 pounders can act really smart and be really finicky and fussy.    Fish analyze a bait as it tracks thru the water, using more than just lateral lines and smell.  Think about a fish that has only ever tracked behind a bait that has 2 vortexes, or at best, 4 vortexes (double rig fluke, Front Runner on your topwater rig), but never 10 vortexes.  10 vortexes in a fishes mind = safe = commit.   And in fact, his buddies are so confident in 10Vs = safe = commit, they join the party and eat one too, so the angler catches 2 fish on one catch, way more often than normal.

The Grass Minnow is the most subtle swimming best vortex matching bait I know. The Weedless Shad is #2, the only difference being the Grass Minnow has a smaller profile and a swallow tail vortex (vs. the wedge tail).    So, while I was scrambling to fabricate my own Rigs or get real ones thru hook or crook, we started fishing multirig style, meaning, Booyah Quad Blade Spinnerbaits, double rigged flukes, and double rigged Grass Minnows.   The fishing on Kentucky Lake is tough,  don’t kid yourself. The Rig caught fish, but it wasn’t any kind of whack fest out there.   So, to fish with quad blade spinnerbaits and double rigs and start catching some fish again a little more regular, was pretty cool.    I went into the tournament having a decent quad blade spinnerbait and double rigged Grass Minnow bite.  But then came the Rigs.

Troy Anderson, Alabama Rig
Troy Anderson, my practice partner and eventual CoAngler Champion for the 2011 Everstart Championship on Kentucky Lake. Here is Troy, with 3" Hammers and a 4 way rig, with a spinnerblade teaser as #5 in the middle. We were in New Johnsonville here, so we were technically illegally fishing in TN water. We got an email at 4pm that day, last day of practice, that TN Fish&Game rules say no more than 3 baits. Basically, I bailed out of New J'ville and TN altogether based on that ruling alone. So did Dan Moorehead the Pro Champion and guys like Jim Tutt.

There is going to be landslides of changes, new innovations, new tournament rules and implications, and lots of fish getting caught as part of the Rig Effect.   Just fishing multiple baits at the same time, totally under-explored, and creating schools of baits totally under-explored and creating new rigs and methods for presentations, casting, etc make all new kinds of swimbait like implications, like the need for 8 foot rods and big round reels with big gears and heavy lines and heavy terminal tackle.  Strange and wild twist on fishing and swimbait fishing, but the bottom line thing I cannot get over is how well the fish eat the Rig.   It catches fish, and it doesn’t seem ‘obnoxious’ or grossly out of line with fishing regular single bait setups, IMO.  It fishes like a 8″ ROF 12 Huddleston Deluxe.  No kidding.