The FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole took place this past Saturday. The winner of the tournament was Tim Celesti of Margate, Florida. He weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds. For his victory, Celesti took home $6,300.
Celesti said he punched mats within a five-acre stretch on the north end of the lake. He said that he preferred water that was stained, but still clear of debris.
“After the sun came out the mats warmed up and the fish congregated around them perfectly,” said Celesti, who notched the first win of his career in BFL competition. “I stayed there the entire day and waited for them to eat.”
Celesti said that he used one bait – a June Bug-colored Gambler BB Cricket – to catch his stringer of bass.
“I did my best to really get the Cricket up under the mats,” Celesti said. “I would hold it up high and let it drop after about 10 seconds. The bass would eat it and then just sit there. You could hardly feel the bite. It was like you had to give them time to come and look at it, and then drop it on their nose.
“You had to be patient,” continued Celesti. “And you needed a punch skirt. If the bait didn’t have a punch skirt they wouldn’t eat it.”
The Florida angler said he targeted a single mat around 12:30 p.m. and caught a 4- and 7-pounder within ten minutes of each other to cap off his winning stringer.
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Tim Celesti, Margate, Fla., five bass, 22-0, $6,300
2nd: Allen Walls, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 18-11, $3,000
3rd: Austin Murray, Deland, Fla., five bass, 17-7, $2,000
4th: Donald Ciacchi, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, five bass, 16-11, $1,400
5th: Greg Hughes, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 16-6, $1,200
6th: Steve Poland, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 16-4, $1,100
7th: Roger Crafton, Boca Grande, Fla., five bass, 15-12, $1,000
8th: Nicholas Hoinig, Delray Beach, Fla., five bass, 15-8, $900
9th: Sandy Melvin, Boca Grande, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $750
9th: Jason Jastrzemski, Wellington, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $750
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Kenneth Harris of Zolfo Springs, Florida, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division, a fish weighing 8 pounds, 15 ounces and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $1000.
David Bozeman of Ocala, Florida, weighed in four bass totaling 13 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to earn $3,000 and win the co-angler division.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: David Bozeman, Ocala, Fla., four bass, 13-7, $3,000
2nd: Garrett Farmer, Estero, Fla., five bass, 13-0, $1,500
3rd: James Topmiller, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 12-14, $850
3rd: Doug Caldwell, Kane, Pa., five bass, 12-14, $1,350
5th: Kenneth Bivins, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 12-12, $600
6th: Gary Schild, Mundelein, Ill., five bass, 12-8, $550
7th: Scott Kirsch, Edgewater, Fla., five bass, 10-13, $500
8th: William Carpenella, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., five bass, 10-4, $450
9th: Michael Lendl, Pembroke Pines, Fla., five bass, 10-3, $400
10th: Bill Grotjahn, Homosassa, Fla., five bass, 9-11, $350
Caldwell caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division, a fish weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces and earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $500.
The top 50 boaters and 50 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 13-15 Regional Championship on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 50 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the BFL All-American. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2016 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 235 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW” television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Periscope: @FLWFishing.