by February 17, 2016

Tim Celesti of Margate, FL weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds even Saturday to win the FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Gator Division tournament on Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole. For his victory, Celesti took home $6,300.

Celesti said he punched mats within a five-acre stretch on the north end of the lake. He said that he preferred water that was stained, but still clear of debris.

“After the sun came out the mats warmed up and the fish congregated around them perfectly,” said Celesti, who notched the first win of his career in BFL competition. “I stayed there the entire day and waited for them to eat.”

Celesti said that he used one bait – a June Bug-colored Gambler BB Cricket – to catch his stringer of bass.

“I did my best to really get the Cricket up under the mats,” Celesti said. “I would hold it up high and let it drop after about 10 seconds. The bass would eat it and then just sit there. You could hardly feel the bite. It was like you had to give them time to come and look at it, and then drop it on their nose.

“You had to be patient,” continued Celesti. “And you needed a punch skirt. If the bait didn’t have a punch skirt they wouldn’t eat it.”

The Florida angler said he targeted a single mat around 12:30 p.m. and caught a 4- and 7-pounder within ten minutes of each other to cap off his winning stringer.

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:

               1st:          Tim Celesti, Margate, Fla., five bass, 22-0, $6,300

               2nd:         Allen Walls, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 18-11, $3,000

               3rd:          Austin Murray, Deland, Fla., five bass, 17-7, $2,000

               4th:          Donald Ciacchi, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, five bass, 16-11, $1,400

               5th:          Greg Hughes, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 16-6, $1,200

               6th:          Steve Poland, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 16-4, $1,100

               7th:          Roger Crafton, Boca Grande, Fla., five bass, 15-12, $1,000

               8th:          Nicholas Hoinig, Delray Beach, Fla., five bass, 15-8, $900

               9th:          Sandy Melvin, Boca Grande, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $750

               9th:          Jason Jastrzemski, Wellington, Fla., five bass, 15-7, $750

Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.  

Kenneth Harris of Zolfo Springs, Florida, caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the pro division, a fish weighing 8 pounds, 15 ounces and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $1000.

David Bozeman of Ocala, Florida, weighed in four bass totaling 13 pounds, 7 ounces Saturday to earn $3,000 and win the co-angler division.

The top 10 co-anglers were:

             1st:          David Bozeman, Ocala, Fla., four bass, 13-7, $3,000

            2nd:         Garrett Farmer, Estero, Fla., five bass, 13-0, $1,500

            3rd:          James Topmiller, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 12-14, $850

            3rd:          Doug Caldwell, Kane, Pa., five bass, 12-14, $1,350

            5th:          Kenneth Bivins, Orlando, Fla., five bass, 12-12, $600

            6th:          Gary Schild, Mundelein, Ill., five bass, 12-8, $550

            7th:          Scott Kirsch, Edgewater, Fla., five bass, 10-13, $500

            8th:          William Carpenella, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., five bass, 10-4, $450

            9th:          Michael Lendl, Pembroke Pines, Fla., five bass, 10-3, $400

          10th:        Bill Grotjahn, Homosassa, Fla., five bass, 9-11, $350

Caldwell caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the co-angler division, a fish weighing 6 pounds, 3 ounces and earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $500.

The top 50 boaters and 50 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 13-15 Regional Championship on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.

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