OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – For Marty Bohlke Jr., winning the American Fishing Series Central Division opener on Lake of the Ozarks was like an Oreo, only the sweet stuff was on the ends rather than in the middle.
A resident of Nixa, Mo., Bohlke blasted to the top of the Co-angler Division on day one with a stunning limit of 23 pounds, 3 ounces – the event’s heaviest bag in both divisions and the only one to break 20 pounds. His impressive catch from the back of the boat included a 7-pounder – the biggest bass of day one – and left Bohlke with a lead of more than 11 pounds.
Bohlke stumbled on the second day and brought no fish to the scale. That allowed Michael Penix to take over the lead on day two. However, Bohlke’s overwhelming day-one effort kept him in the hunt, and he entered the final round trailing by only an ounce. He only caught two fish on day three, but they were quality bass and his 6-13 bag gave him a three day total of 30 pounds and a winning margin of 4-4. He earned $8,930 for the win.
A self-proclaimed jerkbait fanatic, Bohlke split his time between two models. “I used a Megabass (jerkbait) when the water was clear, and I used a (Smithwick) Rattlin’ Rogue when the water was dirty.”
A late-season cold front that marched through the area Saturday morning brought windy, rainy weather with occasional snow flurries. Daytime temperatures never broke out of the upper 30s, and Bohlke noted that the weather limited the bites on day three. Nevertheless, he persevered and closed the deal.
“I fished really hard, worked that jerkbait slow and made every fish count,” Bohlke said. “I did drop a 6 ½-pounder the first day, which I thought would cost me.”
Penix slips to second
Hailing from Lewisburg, Tenn., Penix resisted the jerkbait fever that infected most of the tournament field and stuck with his confidence bait – a green-pumpkin Zoom Baby Brush Hog Texas-rigged on a 3/0 hook. Casting and retrieving with a superslow cadence was the key for him. Unfortunately, day three did not deliver the opportunities he needed, and Penix weighed only a 2-pound, 8-ounce fish and finished with 25-12 worth $3,572.
Best of the rest
Rickey Alexander of New Lenox, Ill., finished third with 22-5 worth $1,786. He had the biggest bass of the Co-angler Division on day two.
In fourth place, Jeremy Huddleston of Jefferson City, Mo., had 22-3 and earned a check for $1,563, and Mark Horton of Nicholasville, Ky., was fifth with 20-14 worth $1,340.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers at the FLW American Fishing Series Lake of the Ozarks event:
6th: Mike Williams of Cottage Hills, Ill., 19-2
7th: Mark Martin of Ozark, Mo., 18-4
8th: Jeffrey G. Risinger of Bridgeton, Mo., 16-14
9th: Jeff McCarnan of Henderson, Ky., 14-12
10th: Bruce Obrien of Normal, Ill., 14-5