Lambert Victorious Despite Tough Conditions at Okeechobee
Garmin pro Jason Lambert couldn’t have asked for a better way to start his 2016 season. Jason held on to his Day Two lead to beat out 249 other competitors and win the Costa FLW Series event at Lake Okeechobee.
In stereotypical fashion for tournament anglers, conditions during the tournament were nothing like they were during practice. On the first day of practice, anglers were dealt comfortable 80-degree temperatures on the first day of practice. By the time the tournament rolled around on Friday, a cold front pushed through and anglers faced heavy rains and 50 mph winds.
Luckily for Jason, the severe weather and drastic drop in water temperature didn’t affect his fish as much as it did for his competitors. “My pattern didn’t change,” said Lambert. “I was on a numbers pattern more so than a quality pattern. Typically at Lake Okeechobee, if you catch enough fish, you’re going to catch some big ones. I just kept doing the same thing and never changed.”
As far as how his Garmin electronics helped him during the tournament, he credits it to one of the new 2016 CHIRP transducers. “That new (GT52HW-TM CHIRP transducer) on the trolling motor helped me considerably,” said Jason. “I can now read SideVü at such a low rate of speed, that I was actually able to get on the grass line and stay in contact with it, without getting up in it and disturbing the fish.”
Only one time in his career has Jason gone to the Big O and not made a check. Jason believes that’s because it complements his style of fishing. “Okeechobee is a little different than the other Florida lakes because you can power fish it. A lot of the other Florida lakes don’t fish that way. I always say that Toho and Okeechobee are complete opposites of one another.
It just worked out this week. Doing what I was doing, you probably couldn’t have won a typical event down there where heavy bags are being brought in every day. Because it was cold and the fishing was tough, it played into my hands this week.”
In two weeks when the FLW Tour heads back to Okeechobee, Jason expects things to be quite different than they were last week. “Unless we get a really bad cold front the week we go back and it fluctuates substantially, we’ll see a lot better weights than we had last week. The full moon is right before we get there, so I’m sure sight fishing for bedding fish will be a factor at the Tour event.
Unlike just about everywhere else, in order for the fish to spawn in Florida, you actually need the water to cool. They haven’t had a winter down here. The week between Christmas and New Year’s, it was 90 degrees! This cold streak that they’re having will definitely encourage those big fish to begin moving shallow to stage for pre-spawn. Any time in Florida where you get 4-6 days of steady weather, you’ll catch bigger limits than you’ve ever dreamed!”
Looking at the rest of the 2016 FLW Tour on season, it is definitely one that plays to Jason’s strengths. Between the Costa Series and Tour events, he’ll be fishing the Tennessee River five times, so that’s right in his wheelhouse. As far as what event he’s looking forward to most, Jason says “I live on Pickwick, so I always look forward to fishing here so I can sleep in my own bed, but I’m probably most looking forward to Kentucky Lake.”
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