The House of the Rising Son: Okeechobee. Line thru, ball knobber boot tails, braided line and a trap hook rigging that brought me back to my days on San Vicente in the early 2000s. The 3:16 Rising Son, excellence is buoyancy and a thing I call, Rate of Stall---which are key to the grass fishing conversation--well, shallow grass anyway. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm still a Vortex head, and Florida has other Vortexes that do damage besides hurricanes and tropical storms!!!

Alright, tournament time again, FLW Tour Open, Lake Okeechobee.   I haven’t said a whole lot since the Everstart.  Trying to manage information…This FLW Tour Open is my one Tour Event for 2012, and I dang sure don’t need to be helping out the list of guys who already are household names I’m fishing against!   So let me walk you thru my Everstart a little.  Day 1, I planned on throwing the bigbaits all day.  However, we had an unforecasted 15-20 MPH Wind from the NNE, that wrecked my major areas.  The wind not only seriously mucked up the water color, it was causing my bait to run funky.  Side wind and braided line swimbait fishing is no bueno.  Your bait tends to drag with the big bow in your line and there was no getting away from it.   I only had 2 fish for Day 1 and wanted to jump off the Kissimmee Bridge and just die.  My friend Roger Ray showed up at the house out of nowhere that evening.  He was down to fun fish, and it was a blessing to have a friend around and just snap me out of complete misery.  My only comfort was reading how many other guys sucked on Day 1, phew.   I mean, I drove straight home (was in first flight) fueled up the boat, and went to bed at 6:30.  Just so disgusted and angry, didn’t even check the standings until later that night.   Thanking Rodger once again for his use of time and timing.   So Day 2, I started in an area I’d seen a couple big ones hanging around beds, but not locked on, and wouldn’t eat.  Much better, calmer weather and conditions made things a little more normal and fishable to say the least.    I stopped short, set up, and made long casts to where I’d seen her and got a big bite in the first 2 minutes of fishing.  Solid 6+ pounder in the boat.  Hooray.   We moved a little further and fished on, and I made another long cast to another area a big one had been hanging around and BLOOSH, another solid 5+ pounder in the boat.  Hell yeah.  One hour in, I was back in the money and had plenty of time to fish.   I kept chunking the bigbaits the rest of the day, got another one 4+ and one about 2.5 just committing to the bigbaits all day.    Finished 21st place, and only weighed 6 fish for the entire tournament.  24 pounds in 6 fish.   Was 6 pounds from the Top 10 cut.  Kicking myself for being so one dimensional, because I could have easily made up 6 pounds in 4 fish if I knew what I know today.

There is a huge difference between the Gambler BB Cricket and the Beaver. The BB Cricket is probably 30% smaller which means it punches that much better, and the Beaver already rocks the house in the flipping and punching department. It's similar to the difference between the 6" and 8" Huddleston baits, big difference, but in small baits, the difference isn't so noticeable, unless you really stop and look and fish. The BB Cricket can be fished where few baits will punch thru, just due to simple design and super small profile.

So, to the Tour Event.  I have to credit my good friend and fellow angler, Casey Martin for helping me out a ton during off limits.  We did a bunch of fun fishing and filming on some other lakes around, and Casey showed me the finer things to grass flipping and punching. I needed to see how the latest and greatest stuff was being done.  Casey whacked ’em pretty good and showed me the advanced things about picking casts, where to hit, and how to choose and rig baits and the adjustments he made during a day.  Casey can compete with anyone out there.  Don’t let the fact he is fishing the Tour (and won 2 Tour Events and the AOY in 2011 as a Co-Angler) as a CoAngler fool you.  He fishes the Everstarts as a Pro, and is solid as a rock.

Thanking Casey for helping me with my grass flipping and punching. Casey has been living with Derek Remitz and Craig Dowling most of the last few years on Lake Guntersville, and has honed his grass fishing on the mighty G'Ville. I found myself for the first time in a long time, having to adjust the basic mechanics of what I was doing. Casey is so efficient when he flips, he mathematically beats most guys. More pitches, more clean punches, less time changing over hands (he uses a left handed reel) and keeps the rod in his right hand 100% of the time, and has mad skills in picking out the right stuff to hit. In exchange, I've been lecturing Casey on perfect proportions, Vitruvian Man, and fractal geometry. Poor Casey!!!

The things Casey helped tune me into, combined with some old skills I used to use on Lake Havasu back in the day before it was a smallmouth fishery have come back to me.  I’m fishing a healthy combination of flipping and pitching and punching and swimbait fishing tomorrow.  We have bad wind and weather, however, I’ve found an area I believe, if I can get to it (meaning if the wind isn’t so bad we cannot run to it) I can get in, and be safe from the wind.   So, one major swimbait area, and a lot of places I’m flipping and pitching and punching.   I’ve gotten into a pattern to narrow down the endless amounts of grass and overwhelming nature of Okeechobee, with regards to flipping and pitching, and can sorta bounce around and just fish the moment with that deal and feel good about catching some fish, and some of them can be good ones.   I needed a good way to fill up a limit because the Everstart showed me that even on a good day, I won’t get 5 in the boat, and I cannot afford to make any mistakes like that at the Tour Level.  These boys are incredible anglers and have whipped me badly before, and I cannot beat myself by being one dimensioned out there, especially since we have 15-20 MPH NNE  (just like on Day 1 of the Everstart where I struggled with the bigbaits so badly) forecast for tomorrow.   I need 5 and tomorrow is my long day, so I gotta use that time wisely.

The mighty Medlock Jig, double weed guard, 1 ounce and a the biggest baddest hook you ever seen on a jig. Brandon won the Okeechobee Everstarts the last 2 years in a row on this jig. I think it's safe to assume they are eating it.

I am boat 147 tomorrow.  Due in at 5 pm!  Long day, but the weather is going to be brutal windy and rough, but heck, I feel a whole lot better about catching a limit and maybe getting 1-2 big bites, no matter what happens with the weather or wind tomorrow.   Please know I am so overwhelmed and behind on so many things that I’m paralyzed at times.   I spend my daylight hours fishing, and evening hours getting the footage off the cameras and haven’t even hardly gotten to the editing.  The editing is the major heavy lifting, and I’ll be honest, I just haven’t had the focused time to spend on it all, yet.   I spent the majority of off limits fishing, filming, working on the boat, doing normal stuff, and some days just resting.    I have been filming A LOT since I’ve been down here. I’m not 100% sure what I’m going to be doing with the all footage.    Thinking of working on another DVD project, thinking of just some mid-length YouTube series, and definitely have commitments to various business partners I’m obliged to fulfill, so therein lies my challenge.  So, when I don’t know what to do, the best decision is no decision, meaning, hang loose and the right paths will eventually reveal themselves.   Time’s a Revelator.    So bare with me, have a lot to share and show, bigbait fishing and grass flipping and punching stuff.  First things last, I’ve got to focus, keep it simple, make good decisions, and make the most of this event.

Okeechobee will not be won on the Alabama Rig, not even the Trip Jig, the modified castable rig, with 2 blades, a skirt, and 3 wires. I enjoyed 'field testing' multi-rigs for grass applications, and my work is not yet done, but it wouldn't be right to not mention that the Alabama Rig WILL NOT WIN on Okeechobee. More to come on the Trip Jig and various weedless setups I've been using (vs. exposed jig head and Hammers). Underwater photography and video is so filthy awful sickening.