Submitted by Full Limit Outdoor Media
The first FLW Tour event of many seasons takes place on famed Lake Okeechobee. Therefore, it is often the launchpad for many pro fisherman’s careers. It is the first Tour level event they ever fish. Their grand entrance into the sport of big-time pro bass fishing.
However, sometimes their entrance isn’t too grand. Oftentimes, a new pro’s inaugural event is disastrous. Not always, but often. It’s likely due to being overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by a new body of water. Overwhelmed competing against legendary anglers. Overwhelmed by financial obligations to compete at that level. Overwhelmed by self-imposed pressure to perform out of the gate. Needless to say, the odds are stacked against a rookie at their first event.
On February 4, 2016, those odds were against a FLW Tour rookie angler named Tim Frederick. Tim had qualified to fish the tour through the 2015 Southeastern division of the Costa FLW Series. He had finished the year ranked in 7th place. His best finish of his 2015 Costa campaign was a 10th place check at none other than Lake Okeechobee.
When the dust settled, the checks were cut, the stage was torn down and all the anglers had departed Clewiston, Florida, Tim Frederick found himself a victim of the aforementioned scenario. His first ever event as a FLW pro angler ended with his name being at the bottom of the standings. Dead last. Tim’s one bass that he weighed for 2 lb. 7 oz. positioned him in 169th place. On the standings page, Tim was the bookend to the Bradley Hallman who won the event worth $100,000 with 20 bass that weighed 71 lbs. 2 oz.
Frederick would go on to end his rookie season ranked 144th. A long way from the top of the Angler of Year standings and missing the Forrest Wood Cup by a mile.
2017 would not open at Okeechobee. Instead, it would begin in Alabama on historic Lake Guntersville. Tim opened his sophomore season with a 120th place finish. But, after that, the tide began to turn. Tim settled in. He found his groove and his finishes began to move him higher up the standings sheet. At the culmination of his 2nd year on tour, he would find himself in 43rd place in the Angler of the Year standings and narrowly miss qualifying for the Forrest Wood Cup by 7 ounces. Or, in fishing terms, about the half the size of a good bluegill.
Here is where this story gets good. This is the part that makes the lumps and near misses seem a little more distant.
The word “redemption” is defined as: A) The act or process of redeeming a situation. B) Payback. There cannot possibly be another word that more adequately defines the scene of yesterday’s weigh in for the FLW Tour’s 2018 season opener on Lake Okeechobee. Yesterday, Sunday January 28th, 2018, redemption belonged to Tim Frederick.
Tim returned to the place of origin of his professional fishing career and 4 days of competition, he left the champion. This time he hoisted the trophy and big check for $100,000. He got to be the bookend at the top of the standings sheet.
He weighed his smallest limit of the event of 5 bass for 16-4 that left him in 23rd place after day one. He wasn’t what you might call “in the driver’s seat” but he certainly wasn’t out of the hunt either. Tim followed that up with a limit weighing 25-15 that catapulted him into 2nd place after day 2. On day 3 he carried 23-3 to the scales and headed into the final day in the catbird seat. On day 4 Tim managed 5 bass that settled the scales to 19-14. That was good enough to win by a margin of 1 pound and 2 ounces, or about $100,000 per pound better than second place.
And here is how he did it:
“I had found an area during practice that I committed myself to. I had gotten enough quality bites to know that was where I needed spend all my time and have confidence that I was around the grade the fish that would give me a shot to win.”
“I spent all 4 days in this area. I was basically targeting scattered pencil reeds for spawners. The bigger females where in there and that’s what it takes to win on Okeechobee.”
“I had a 2-prong approach to getting my fish to bite. I would cast, flip and pitch to isolated clumps of pencil reeds. The female bass were spawning in and around the roots at the bases. I was relying on a light weight and a specific action to convince them to bite.”
“I used a 3/16-ounce Tour Grade Tungsten Weight almost exclusively. It was the right weight and size to compliment my baits and get the perfect fall rate and action to trigger strikes.”
“My main tools were a 7” Strike King Ocho in Green Pumpkin and a 5” Strike King Shim-e-Stick in Black/Blue with a Blue Tip. The Ocho and Shim-E-Stick are so different in their actions. The Ocho is softer and has more of a wavy action, whereas the Shim-E-Stick action is more along the lines of the traditional stickbait. They are an awesome one-two punch.”
“I went with the bigger sized Ocho for a number of reasons. One, it’s bigger profile makes it more appealing to bigger bass. Two, it’s bigger size makes it more threatening to spawners when around the beds. Three, it’s larger size also allows it have more and different action and that really sets it apart from all the other stick-type baits that guys were slinging around.”
“I was also casting a 3/8 oz. black/blue Pure Poison tipped with a black/blue Rage Bug. I would cast it in between pencil reed clumps and around the edges of the reeds. It is a great search bait for spawners that aren’t necessarily right on visible cover. The Rage Bug gives it a unique profile and action that I’ve had a ton of success with.”
“I’ve been with Strike King for about the last 5 years and I just have a ton of confidence in their products. I have caught countless giant bass on the Series 5 and Series 3 crankbaits right out of the box. Last year, I made more money on the Tour and Costa’s casting a Jointed Structure Head with a Rage Bug than anything else. It became my go-to confidence bait when we went to lakes that I didn’t have experience on. A thorough line up of baits like that are important when you’re constantly traveling and fishing different bodies of water.”
“Strike King baits are reliable, tournament-proven and I know what I’m getting. I’m obviously willing to bet my living on them.”
The next stop of the FLW Tour is the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, FL. That just happens to be Tim’s hometown and home water. We’re betting that he’s a good choice for your fantasy fishing team at that event too!