CLEWISTON – The top finishers in the Roland Martin Marine Center Series Qualifier #3, presented by HUK on Nov. 19, made the event a family affair.
With a little chill in the air and wind on the horizon, the forecast may have been pointing to challenging bass fishing conditions. And big bags might not have been expected come weigh-in time, but that’s what you get on legendary Lake Okeechobee in November — the unexpected.
The top three teams in the Nov. 19 qualifier brought in hefty 25-pound plus bags. And the biggest of them all was brought in by the father and son team of Don and Matt Demott with a winning weight of 26.81 pounds to take home the big check.
“All these guys out here are killers and many of them have won here,” Demott said. “But this is my first and incredibly special to do it with my son. There is only so many of these we have left before he goes off to school and life. So this is amazing.”
At just 17 years old, the younger Demott is already making a name for himself following in the casts and flips of his dad.
“It’s definitely cool,” said the younger Demott. “You just got to pick through the ones that he misses and luckily we came out on top. And it’s awesome to win one with him.”
Not only did the father and son team collect the top finishing check for $6,000, they also collected the Mercury Top Youth Angler for $100 and Top Mercury contingency winner for another $250. And with an absolute giant 8.18 pound kicker in their bag, the US Sugar Big Bass gave them another $500 to top off the monster payday.
Bringing another big bag to the stage was the second place team of Aaron Navarro and Matt Wolosyn with 26.65 pounds that earned them the second place check for $2,500. Just a pound and half back from the winners.
“We had the winner on twice,” said Wolosyn.
“First thing in the morning we doubled up on 5’s,” said Navarro.
And right on their heels was another father and son team of Michael and Luke Slipy that weighed in 25.28 pounds and earned them the 3rd place check for $1,600.
“We caught just about every fish we hooked,” said the younger Slipy. “We really didn’t leave anything out there. We made a long run and had a few boats around us but we got it done.”
“This is awesome,” said the proud father. “You get to share a moment like this with your kid. That’s what it’s all about.”
So even though the conditions were leaning toward a tough derby, the anglers proved that you just gotta roll with the punches. And for those that figured it out, it’s a happy thanksgiving with a little extra stuffing in the wallet.
As the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida, the payouts continued deep into the 154 team field for the third qualifier of the 2022 season.
The U.S. Sugar Big Bass put another $500 in the winner’s pockets with their 8.18 pound giant and the 2nd Big Bass of 8.06 pounds earned the team of CJ Barbosa and Cody Whitley $100 Gambler Bucks. The highest finishers crossing the stage in HUK Gear earned the second place team of Navarro and Wolosyn $250. Angie Holley received $100 from Mary Ann Martin as the highest fishing Female Angler. Gilbert Chevrolet presented the Connor Swindle $250 as the highest finishing Gilbert Chevrolet owner. And with 5 bass weighing just 5.22 pounds, the team of Jeff Zablo and Joe Lamanna turned the smallest limit into $300 from AV Inspection – 98th place is worth $300.
Unfortunately, the weather turned for the worse and Sunday’s (Nov. 20) qualifier was canceled due to Small Craft Warning with 25 knot winds and rain and lightning in the forecast.