Kyle Monti of Okeechobee,Fla., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 24 pounds even Saturday to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Gator Division event on Lake Okeechobee. For his victory, Monti earned $6,000.

“The trophy means more to me than the money does,” said Monti. “It was something really special for me. My grandfather, Ray Alston, taught me how to fish on this lake when I was 2 years old. He passed away about two weeks prior to this tournament, and this was the first tournament I have fished since he passed away. I would really like to dedicate my victory to him.

“I started out in an area where the water was clearing up throughout the day and found some fish on a Charlie’s Worms Zipper Dipper,” Monti continued. “I fished there for the first two hours of the morning, and I must have missed over 10 fish. Some of them were in the 4- to 5-pound range and it made the start of my day pretty rough. It all turned around when I decided to fish a new area on the outside edge of grass. I changed lures, and started flipping a 1-ounce Medlock jig in black and blue and caught a big one, about 6 pounds. In that same area, my co-angler caught another 6-pounder on a Rat-L-Trap.

“I realized that those fish were just starting to move in from the main lake and they were feeding pretty hard,” Monti went on to say. “I made the decision to stay there for the rest of the day and all of my big fish came off of a 25-yard stretch within two hours of each other. After switching over to my Denali extra-heavy rod with 80-pound braid I was able to keep the fish buttoned, and didn’t lose any more.”

This 20-year-old Okeechobee native has plans to go pro and has the skills to do it. Monti scored an impressive seventh-place finish in the first Southeast EverStart tournament of the year, and has high hopes for the next event on Lake Guntersville at the end of the month. He also attends Indian River State College and competes in FLW College Fishing events. Last year, the club claimed victory at the Okeechobee event and placed third in the Southeastern Conference Championship tournament, earning them a birth into the 2013 FLW College Fishing National Championship. This event will take place on April 19-21 at Beaver Lake in Rogers, Ark.

Rounding out the top 10 pros were:

  • 2nd: Darrin Simmons, Oviedo, Fla., five bass, 20-1, $3,000
  • 3rd: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 19-15, $2,000
  • 4th: Donny Bass, Naples, Fla., five bass, 19-14, $1,400
  • 5th: Colby Flinn, Bradenton, Fla., five bass, 19-7, $1,200
  • 6th: Juan Ruiz, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 19-5, $1,100
  • 7th: Ryan Worthington, Middleburg, Fla., five bass, 19-4, $1,000
  • 8th: William McKinstry III, Loxahatchee, Fla., five bass, 18-13, $900
  • 9th: Ryan Edwards, Stuart, Fla., five bass, 18-11, $800
  • 10th: Van Soles, Winter Haven, Fla., five bass, 18-2, $700

Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.

James Sloan of Cooper City, Fla., weighed a five-bass limit totaling 17 pounds even Saturday to win $3,000 in the co-angler division.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

  • 2nd: Michael Lendl, Pembroke Pines, Fla., five bass, 15-12, $1,500
  • 3rd: William Needham, Ocala, Fla., five bass, 15-8, $1,000
  • 4th: Michael Davis, Lakes Wales, Fla., five bass, 15-4, $700
  • 5th: Mike Bruton, Oakland, Fla., five bass, 14-14, $600
  • 6th: Jason Adams, Moore Haven, Fla., five bass, 14-13, $525
  • 6th: Robert Wood, Jupiter, Fla., five bass, 14-13, $525
  • 8th: Sherman Cruse, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass 14-8, $450
  • 9th: Andrew Bennett, Deltona, Fla., five bass, 13-9, $400
  • T-10th: August Carnahan, Celebration, Fla., five bass, 13-9, $332
  • T-10th: William Wood, West Palm Beach, Fla., five bass, 13-9, $332

The next BFL Gator Division tournament is scheduled for March 9 on Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Fla. After the last divisional tournament is complete, the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 3–5 Regional Championship on Lake Guntersville, Ala. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518 with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518 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 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy. The 2013 BFL All-American is being held June 27–29 on the Nickajack Lake in Chattanooga, Tenn. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the EverStart Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.

Logo courtesy FLW Outdoors

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