Posted by Z3 MEDIA STAFF on 01/03/2018

Story courtesy of FLW Communications

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – A full field of 500 pros and co-anglers are set to kick off the FLW tournament season this week at the season-opening Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee. The tournament, presented by Power-Pole, is the first regular-season event scheduled in the FLW Series Southeastern Division. Hosted by the Okeechobee County Tourism Development Council, the event will feature anglers competing for a top award of up to $105,000, including a brand new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

“The lake has been fishing great – some of the best fishing that we’ve had in a long time – but we’ve got a cold front coming through this week and it is going to get tough,” said FLW Tour pro Brandon McMillan of Clewiston, who has 11 career top-10 finishes as a pro on Lake Okeechobee in FLW competition. “They’re forecasting 30 degrees at takeoff on Thursday morning. Down here that’s frigid, and I expect it’s going to make this a tough event.

“It also takes away any sort of local advantage,” McMillan continued. “I had found 4 or 5 different off-the-beaten path areas while practicing and had this cold front not come in it would have given me a chance to get away from some of the crowds. But now, all of that is for naught.”

McMillan said that despite the frigid temperatures most anglers would still employ standard Florida-fishing tactics. He predicted that the winning pro would likely bring a three-day total of 40 pounds to win.

“It’s going to be a 15-minute window here, or a 10-minute window there. Somebody is going to get lucky and be in the right place at the right time. The fish are definitely still going to bite, but it’s not going to be a normal Okeechobee slugfest.”

Anglers will take off and weigh-in at C. Scott Driver Park, located at 10100 W. Highway 78, in Okeechobee. Takeoff will be held at 7 a.m. EST each day of competition and weigh-ins will start at 3 p.m. All takeoffs and weigh-ins are free to attend and open to the public.

In Costa FLW Series regular-season competition, payouts are based on the number of participants competing in the event. At Lake Okeechobee pros will fish for a top prize of $105,000, including a brand new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard if Ranger Cup qualified. Co-anglers will cast for a brand new Ranger Z175 boat with a 90-horsepower Evinrude outboard, and $5,000 if Ranger Cup qualified.

The Costa FLW Series consists of five U.S. divisions – Central, Northern, Southeastern, Southwestern and Western – along with the International division. Each U.S. division consists of three regular-season tournaments with competitors vying for valuable points that could earn them the opportunity to compete in the season-ending Costa FLW Series Championship. The 2018 Costa FLW Series Championship is being held Nov. 1-3 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama, and is hosted by the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau.