CLEWISTON — The Roland Martin Marine Center Series Championship was held on Lake Okeechobee on Dec. 5 and 6 and Roger Crafton and John Ochs came out on top with a $30,000 check.
Ahead of the tournament the general manager of Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina, Ramon Iglesias, said he expected there’d be an opportunity for some big hauls for teams.
“The slogan I’ve been hearing is that the fishing is on fire,” said Iglesias. “The weights have been really good, the numbers have been great. The lake was able to get some of the grass back that it had lost over the years. The fishing has been great.”
Crafton and Ochs took the top spot in the championship with a final weight of 53.53 pounds.
“We caught plenty of fish both days and culled out a half-dozen four-pound fish,” Crafton explained. “We were in a good area where the fish were coming in and staging underneath the mats and we punched them out.”
“Our game plan was to go into this area and methodically just go slow,” Ochs said. “And then it was just one after another. I was mainly flipping a Skunk Ape with 3/4 to 1 1/2 ounce weight. And Roger was throwing other variations of black and blue. No big secret. Just working it slow.”
Chris Schirling and Alex Nagdeman managed to net a second place finish over the weekend with a two-day total of 46.21 pounds. That second place spot earned them $11,500.
“We had a rough day Saturday with a lot of fish jumping off and missing the bait,” said Schirling. “We also broke down and were stuck in the middle of the lake for over an hour and lost about three hours of fishing time. We fished a community hole in the mornings and then found a place to ourselves where we didn’t see a boat and they were there. The Bruiser Baits Swimmer in a custom color Steve at Bruisers Baits made just for me was how I caught them all.”
Rounding out the top three was the team of Stephen Alberson and Victor Knight with a two-day total of 43.31 pounds that earned them $3,500.
With a progressive Big Bass Pot presented by BoatCoversAnywhere, Jimmy Anderson collected $3,500 for his 8.82 bass. He also collected $500 as the first day big bass winner and Alex Plesher received $500 for his second day big bass of 8.61. The second big bass awards presented by Gambler Baits for $100 went to Chris Jerdan for his day one bass of 8.44 while James Moretz won day two with his 7.88 bass.
The Roland Martin Marine Center Series already has the dates set for next year’s tournaments. Qualifiers will take place on April 24, June 12, Oct. 9, and Nov. 20 with the championship set for Dec. 11 and 12.