OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – After four years as a professional angler on the Wal-Mart FLW Tour and Stren Series, Glenn Browne of Ocala, Fla., finally got what he has been wanting for a long time: a win.
After a disappointing catch of 8 pounds, 4 ounces Friday, Browne rallied back with 14 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday to win the Okeechobee Stren Series Southeast Division event with a four-day total of 60 pounds, 2 ounces.
“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Browne said after collecting $25,000 cash and fully rigged Ranger boat. “I’ve made several finals in the FLW Tour and the Stren Series in the past, and I’ve always crashed on the last day.
“This morning at about 11 o’ clock I hadn’t caught much, and that crashing feeling began welling up inside me again. I thought I was going to have a meltdown. Then I caught a 6-pounder, and that sinking feeling vanished into thin air, my confidence returned and things started clicking – it’s just an awesome feeling to finally defeat that crash-and-burn mental block.”
“I have to thank my good friend and fellow competitor Rick Couch for this win,” Browne said. “Not only does he custom make the 3/4-ounce black and blue jig I used to win, he told me about a big fish he missed in a reed patch during the tournament; I went there today and caught that big fish.”
Brown focused his efforts all week in a canal located on the north end of the lake.
He started the tournament by cranking the edges of the canal where submerged rocks and cuts form points.
On day three his crankbait bite started to thin out, so he went to the jig today.
“The fish in there move vertically up and down the canal bank,” he said. “Some days they are suspended in the middle of the canal, some days they relate to the points and breaks on the canal edge, and other days they pull right up on the bank and spawn around the reed patches. And that’s how I caught them today: pitching Rick’s jig to the shallow reed patches.”
Grigsby charges, falls short
When Grigsby stunned the weigh-in crowd with a mammoth 8 1/2-pound bass, it looked like the BFGoodrich Tires pro just might pull it off with his 15-pound, 5-ounce limit.
But in the end, Grigsby fell a couple of pounds short, taking runner-up with a four-day total of 57 pounds, 13 ounces worth $10,000.
He fished the southeastern end of the lake with a Berkley 10-inch Power Worm capped with a 3/8-ounce weight and tied to 20-pound-test Big Game line.
“I was fishing the outside grass lines where it’s a little deeper,” Grigsby said. “There were a lot more fish in shallow, but they were small and getting hammered by tournament boats. The bites were fewer and farther between out where I was fishing, but every now and then a great big one would bite.”
Parker rallies to third
Interestingly, Parker was one of the few anglers to locate solid keepers in the 3- to 4-pound range, and it was reflected in his consistent 15-pound catches every day except one.
“I was mostly fishing schooling bass that were blowing up on shad in cut-throughs or blow-throughs where the wind was generating current,” Parker said. “I used a variety of baits including a ChatterBait, a big Pop-R and a lipless crankbait to catch them whenever they came up schooling.”
Browning winds up fourth
Browning spent the week in the southeast corner of the lake fishing weightless watermelon Flukes around scattered clumps of grass. His biggest bass – a 9-12 on day three – came on a swimming jig.
“The key was to drift quietly and make superlong casts with the Fluke,” Browning said. “I had one particular patch of grass that all the bigger fish came out of. If there was a small hole or pocket in the grass, that’s what I aimed for.”
Bass falls to fifth
Bass also spent the week in the southeast corner of the lake fishing outside bands of Kissimmee grass with Gambler Crawdaddies and 7-inch ribbon-tail worms, Texas-rigged, with a variety of weights to match the wind.
“I fished a 100-yard stretch of grass all week,” Bass said. “I fished extremely slow – trying to move my boat as little as possible and making multiple presentations to the cuts and pockets in the grass.”
Bass also used a Gambler Flappin’ Shad and Zoom Horny Toad to catch several key topwater fish.
Rest of the best
Rounding the top 10 pros in the Stren Series Southeast event on Lake Okeechobee:
6th: Barry Isbell of Trussville, Ala., four-day total of 50-9, $6,000
7th: Robert Boyd of Russellville, Ala., four-day total of 46-9, $5,500
8th: Craig Dowling of Many, La., four-day total of 44-13, $5,000
9th: Clark Smith of Pell City, Ala., four-day total of 43-11, $4,500
10th: Michael Murphy of Gilbert, S.C., four-day total of 41-4, $4,000
The next Stren Series Southeast Division event will be held on Lake Seminole, Jan. 31-Feb. 3.