CLEWISTON – Big Sticks catch fire on Lake Okeechobee for Qualifier #3 of the 2023 Roland Martin Marine Center Series presented by HUK on Oct. 7. Pre tournament chatter had confidence teetering on maybe or maybe not. For some that is. But that’s the thing about Lake Okeechobee in October. You can look all around for the green, and when the opportunity presents itself and confidence is high, you can find gold.
Sometimes it’s not about numbers, unless of course those numbers add up to more than the rest. For the winning team of Jessie Mizell and Barrett Ringstaff, they turned just seven bites into a winning limit of 34.01 pounds.
“We didn’t want to catch small ones,” said Mizell. “I was flipping a heavy Gambler Double Weedguard jig with a Mega Daddy trailer on heavy braid and only lost one. I was a little concerned about it until about 1:30 when we caught our third fish.”
“We were fishing isolated clumps and reeds,” Ringstaff added. “He was throwing the jig and I was throwing a black and blue chatterbait on 80-pound braid.”
Going with quality over quantity, their turned their winning five into the big check for $6,000. And as the top finisher, they earned another $125 in Bruiser Bucks.
The second place team was a combo often featured at top of our leaderboard. It’s the one two punch of Justin and Keith Morgan.
“We had about 12 or 13 fish today and had about a three pounder that we couldn’t get rid of,” said Justin. “Primary bait was a Spro Popping frog and a Bass Assassin Smoke Ape in St. John’s Special.”
“I was flipping all day and caught a few,” admitted Keith. “We had a solid day.”
Their total weight of 26.05 pounds was enough for the second place fish and nice check for $2,600. Along with Gilbert Chevrolet contingency, and the top team to cross the stage in HUK Gear, they added another $500 on top of that.
Rounding out the top three was the team of Bobby Dupree and Daniel Hinkelman. They weighed in a 25.60 pound limit and collected $1,700 for the 3rd Place finish. The secret? A custom made bait from Gambler Lures.
When the last fish was weighed, the top 19 teams had 20 pounds plus. And as the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida, the payouts continued deep into the 151 team field to make the warm October day even more special.
The U.S. Sugar Big Bass and $500 went to Cafe Sexton with a 8.30 pound bass while the 2nd Big Bass of 8.19 earned Bo Greenwell $100 Gambler Bucks. The winners collected $250 from HUK another $250 as the highest finishing Gilbert Chevrolet owner. Stacey Skidmore received $100 from Mary Ann Martin as the highest fishing Female Angler. And the team that continues to go small to win big, John Tavano and Ernie Johnson turned the smallest limit of 4.60 pounds into $300 from AV Inspection.
That’s a wrap on Qualifier #3 on Lake Okeechobee. One more Qualifier on Nov. 4 and then we’re on to the Championship Dec. 9 & 10. Keep in mind that your team must fish 3 of the 4 qualifiers to qualify for the Championship. So don’t miss out and secure your team in the lineup for Big Bass and Big Checks on the Big O.