CLEWISTON — It’s been a record year for the Roland Martin Marine Center Series presented by HUK. And it’s only fitting that a storybook season has an epic finale. And that’s just what we got.
With the Crystal Cups on stage, the Big Check ready to be presented and just a few teams left at the tanks, the familiar duo of McMillan and Locke dropped 19.98 pounds of bass on the scales for a two-day total of 47.89 and grabbed the lead. Celebration ensued but unfortunately didn’t last as the next team of Roker and Metzger tipped the scales with a giant sack of 25.37 pounds for a two-day total of 47.98. Just a mere 2 ounce difference that gave them the lead and soon handed them the check for $35,000 and the title of 2021 Roland Martin Marine Center Series Champions.
“This is unbelievable,” Roker said. “I’ve been fishing this lake for 25 to 30 years with a lot of these guys and I’ve watched the young ones grow up. To win here, this really means a lot.”
As flippers, they relied on their strengths for most of their fish but saw the opportunity for some swimbait action as well.
“Most of the time we’re flipping,” said Metzger. “But when we saw a few shad in the area, we picked up a Bruiser swimbait in all white and added a couple.”
“Our flipping bait of choice was a Bruiser Stick Worm in black and blue,” continued Roker. “We fished it on 65 pound braid and a one ounce weight since we were fishing grass and not pockets and wanted to make sure it was getting through and down to the fish.”
It got through all right and landed them the record $35,000 winner’s check. As the highest finisher to cross the stage in HUK Gear, they also earned another $250 from our presenting sponsor. That’s what you get when you finish on top of the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida.
Just 2 ounces off the lead with 47.89 pounds was the super team of Jared McMillan and Durand Locke. They’ve tasted victory on this stage before but came up just a little short this time. The second place check for $10,130 and Mercury Contingency for an additional $250 though made for a nice consolation.
Rounding out the top three was the team of Eddie Miller and Joe Lamanna. Their two-day total of 46.63 pounds netted them $4,000.
With 100% payback, the payouts continued deep into the field of 147 boats. Donny Bass brought in the biggest bass on day one at 8.29 pounds and earned him $500 from US Sugar. And the biggest bass on Championship Sunday of 9.23 pounds earned Rene Gonzalez $500 from US Sugar as well. The 2nd big bass on day one of 8.22 pounds earned Jim Finley $100 Gambler Bucks. And the final day runner up big bass of 8.86 pounds netted Benjamin Wright $100 Gambler Bucks. As the top finishing junior, Conner Swindle took home $100 as the top Mercury Youth Angler. Leading the female charge was Breezy Davis, collecting $100 from Mary Ann Martin as the Top Lady Angler. Gilbert Chevrolet awarded Dillion McMillan with $250 as the highest finishing Gilbert Chevrolet owner. And although Lake Okeechobee is world-famous for their big bass, we can’t ignore the little ones. Neither could Larry Badau and Kevin Lake. Their smallest 2-day limit of 12.47 pounds earned them $500 from Aviation Inspection.
With a great crowd on hand, we celebrated the year-end championship in glorious Florida sunshine. The calendar may have said Dec. 12, but with the afternoon sun pushing temps into the high eighties, our year-end celebration was definitely hot, hot, hot. And from 55 inch televisions to a Ted Nugent signed guitar, lucky fans took home their own piece of the Championship pie. Even the kids got in on the payouts with free fishing rods and tackle packs provided by Everglades Federal Credit Union. That’s how we say Happy Holidays on Lake Okeechobee.