CLEWISTON — Bass fishing professionals from around the world began their four-day competition for a top award of up to $135,000 at the Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee on Thursday. Rookie pro Jim Neece, Jr. of Bristol, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 27 pounds even, to take the early lead after Day One. Neece holds a 14-ounce lead over pro Miles Burghoff of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, who caught five bass weighing 26-2, good for second place.
“I got to my spot on the north end of the lake and had no idea what it was going to be like until I pulled up on it,” said Neece. “I quickly caught a solid bass and then four more between 9:30 and 10 (a.m.), but only had about 12 pounds.”
Neece said about an hour later the fish really turned on.
“I just kept throwing moving baits and about noon the big ones started to hit. I caught 15 keepers and ended the day with two 7-pound bass and three more smaller ones.”
Neece said his plan is to go back to the same spot tomorrow and hope his luck holds.
“Practice went okay, but with two days of practice you can’t really sit and catch them, so you just try to get bit and hope for the best when you come back,” he said. “I didn’t realize 27 pounds of fish were in that area, so who knows what will happen tomorrow. That’s all I got – it’s either going to hold up or it’s not.”
The top 10 pros after Day One on Lake Okeechobee are:
• First: Jim Neece, Jr., Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 27-0
• Second: Miles Burghoff, Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., five bass, 26-2
For a full list of results visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Horton won the day’s $500 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, bringing a largemouth weighing eight pounds, six ounces to the scale.
Overall, there were 749 bass weighing 1,954 pounds, 13 ounces caught by 162 pros on Thursday, which included 129 five-bass limits.
The Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee is hosted by the Hendry County Tourism Development Council and Roland & Mary Ann Marin’s Marina & Resort.
In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 163 anglers compete in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, where they will compete for up to $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.
Anglers will take off at 7:30 a.m. ET Friday through Sunday from Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and Resort, located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston. Weigh-ins will also be held at the marina daily at 3 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to follow the action online through the MLF NOW! live stream and coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com .
The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 11 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall. Weigh-ins will be streamed daily and fans can catch live on-the-water action all day Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13-14 on MLF NOW! beginning at 8 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.