All set to start season

Those of you back home reading my column probably have heard enough about all the fishing that I’ve been doing in warm and sunny Florida over the past couple of weeks, but that’s what I’ve been doing.
The first bass tournament of the 2014 FLW Tour season starts this week on massive Lake Okeechobee, so I’ve been spending my time this week trying to figure out how to catch big bass before the tournament starts tomorrow (Feb. 6).
Having fished tournaments at Okeechobee in each of the past two years, I have a pretty good idea of what I need to be doing to be successful this week.
I had my best FLW tournament finish on this lake in 2012, then followed it up last year with my worst finish, so I’m looking for some redemption this weekend.
Midway through practice, things have been going okay. I’ve been catching some decent fish, but not the big six- and seven-pounders that I need to make a run at the top 10.
I’m optimistic that if I can cover enough water, I will find a few places with the potential to kick out this big fish.
So far I’ve had more luck fishing on the main lake than I have running in the many shallow backwater areas Okeechobee is famous for. My best lures have been moving baits like spinnerbaits and swimbaits, which I’ve been able to use to cover water.
I likely need to slow down my presentation a bit and start flipping the shallow cover to trigger more big bites.
Hopefully, I can do that in the tournament in some of the areas I’ve found that have fish around.
This is the first event of six that will take place between now and the end of June. Some 180 anglers are fishing the tour this year, trying to qualify for the Forrest Wood Cup—the season-ending championship that will take place in August in South Carolina.
The top 40 in points qualify for the Cup, which has a $500,000 first-place prize.
In other tournament news, I participated in an 88-boat charity tournament last week in the Florida Everglades, just outside of Miami. There were several Miami Dolphins involved, as well as a dozen FLW Tour anglers who were paired up with tournament sponsors.
My team had a good day, weighing in a limit at 19 pounds to finish just outside the top 10.
My wife, August, was in Florida last week visiting and she fished the tournament with our friend, Blair Dingwall. They didn’t fare as well but had a good time.
After the tournament, there was a dinner and party for everyone involved at a beautiful ranch; they took very good care of us!
August and I had a great time down in Florida last week, fishing several lakes and enjoying the nice weather.
It sure is a nice place to be this time of year!

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