Van Soles Flips Way To Win On Lake Okeechobee

Van Soles flipped his way to victory in the Toyota Bassmaster Weekend Series, operated by American Bass Anglers, Florida Division 6 tournament, held May 18, 2013, on Lake Okeechobee.

Running out of C. Scott Driver Park in the town of Okeechobee, Fla. to fish the 730-square-mile lake, the Haines City angler caught five bass weighing 17.06 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 7.69-pound bucketmouth that also took tournament lunker honors. For the Boater Division victory, Soles took home a check for $1,017 plus a $140 bonus for the big bass.

“We started with frogs and then went to flipping beavers around reeds and cattails,” Soles revealed. “The frog bite shut down when the sun came up. We stayed on the north end of the lake. I caught the big bass late in the afternoon with about an hour left to fish. The water was pretty stained.”

In second for the boaters, Corey A. Roberts of Fort Meyers landed a five-bass tournament limit going 17.03 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 6.14-pounder to pocket $859.

“We started on the west side and didn’t do much, so we moved to the east side,” Roberts advised. “I was throwing a jig and filled out a limit. On the last cast, I caught my biggest fish on a swimbait.”

David M. Thomas of Lake Butler finished third for the boaters with five bass and 16.86 pounds. For the effort, he went home with a check for $572.

“We ran to the east side and caught a couple small fish on frogs,” Thomas said. “Then, we ran farther south and fish blew up near the grass and started schooling. We stayed fishing that grass in that same area and caught a lot of fish.”

Jim Gestwicki of Miami placed fourth with five bass and 15.57 pounds including a 4.52-pound kicker. Jared A. Dial of Winter Haven wrapped up the top five boaters with five bass at 15.16 pounds.

Tom Reeves

Tom Reeves

In the Co-Angler Division, Tom Reeves of Land O Lakes won with three bass weighing 15.71 pounds for a 5.24-pound average. He upped his average with a 6.48-pounder that led the division big bass contest. For the win, Reeves earned $859 plus another $70 in big bass money.

“We fished both the east side and the west side,” Reeves explained. “We caught fish everywhere we went on anything we threw. I caught fish on swim jigs, swimbaits and worms. I got tired of culling we caught so many fish. I caught the big fish on a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper swimbait at midday.”

Taking second for the co-anglers, Ernie C. Johnson of Okeechobee brought in a three-bass division limit for 12.23 pounds. He collected $429 for the effort.

“We fished on the bar and threw a spinnerbait,” Johnson said. “I broke off a 4-pounder. Then, we went to the east side and fished a speed worm all day. I worked it like a senko. Within five minutes, I caught my two biggest fish.”

Matt M. Surman of Orlando placed third place with three bass going 10.38 pounds. He anchored his bag with a 6.12-pounder to pick up a check for $286.

“We were fishing near the Monkey Box and throwing a swim jig most of the day,” Surman recalled. “We caught some on a spinnerbait early in the morning. I had one 5-pounder roll all over my jig, but just couldn’t get it in. That would have helped me.”

In fourth place for the co-anglers, Nik C. Kayler of Apopka landed two keepers and finished with 8.26 pounds topped by a 4.76-pound kicker. Fred George of Okeechobee took fifth place among the co-anglers with a three-fish limit going 7.96 pounds.

The two-day divisional championship will be held Sept. 14-15 out of Camp Mack near Lake Wales to fish the Kissimmee Chain. For more information on this tournament, call Billy Benedetti, tournament manager, at 256-230-5632 or ABA at 256-232-0406. On line, see

Planning a visit to Florida? Check out the World Fishing Network Florida Fishing Guide. Get it here

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