Here we are just days away from the biggest tournament of the year here on Lake Okeechobee. The FLW tour pros started showing up in town Friday and Saturday. Today was the first day of practice for the pros and for most I expect it was a tough bite. With a major cold front hitting the lake Friday dropping the water temp a cool 12 degrees over night, fishing gets tough for a few days. However, one has to notice that the water temp should slowly start to increase as the week progresses and with a new moon approaching things could get really good.

Key Elements to follow this week include:

– Slow bite during practice (Could put some guys in a bad position mentally)

– Wind has been blowing out of the North for several days, however, according to the weather man (we know is wrong 50% of the time) the wind will shift to a south wind Wednesday.

– Warming weather pattern and new moon. This could put those fish in a spawning mood. Although I don’t feel sight fishing will be a huge deal, I feel as though the guys flipping reeds and cattails will be able to catch some of these fish moving in to spawn.

– Pressure will and always will play a factor on Lake Okeechobee. Although the lake is 730 square miles certain places will be full of anglers.

The winner will:

– Be flipping the majority of the day

– Have a place to fill a limit

– Not sit still in one place, it will take several way-points to win

– Adapt as the fish change

Areas to look for winning weights to come from:

– Harney Pond (Usually won here but it’s a community area and pressure might change this)

– East Wall (Close to take off and will allow for more fishing time)

– J and S (Known as the first place bedding fish show up, however, dirty water might ruin this place)

My picks to WIN:

– Brandon Medlock (Although the jig bite isn’t on fire, it’s still responsible for most big fish recently)

– Brandon McMillan (Strong Everstart, showing he was on consistent fish, always a threat on Okeechobee)

– JT Kenny (This guy can catch them flipping with the best)

– Bryan Thrift (My monkey wrench, this guy caught them on a Alabama rig last year in 4 foot of water. Thinks outside the box and just might stumble across a good pattern)

Sleeper Pick:

– Jared McMillan (I heard he is fishing so going to assume he is. New moon warming temp. watch out if he can find a few big girls on the beds he will bust a big bag)

I know picking mainly flippers to win but it’s going to take one of those guys to not have a bad flipping day to win. Can it happen? I believe so and local knowledge is a key here, with it being tough these guys have the upper hand. Winning weight should be around 80 lbs and 50 lbs should get you into the top 10 cut.

If it was me fishing I would find a place to catch a good solid 12+ pound limit and pick up the flipping stick until weigh-in.