By BassFan Staff

Two years ago, Tim Frederick launched his FLW Tour career at Lake Okeechobee. In two days of competition, he caught one bass that weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces and finished 169th. Dead last.

On Sunday, he'll have a chance to erase that memory in a big way.

It's been a week of firsts for the Leesburg, Fla., resident. It's the first Tour event in which he's caught two 20-pound stringers. He's made his first top-10 cut and finds himself in the lead entering the final day with a real shot at winning his first FLW tournament. Through three days of competition at Okeechobee, the average size of the 15 bass he's brought to the scales has been 4.36 pounds.

Frederick backed up his 25-15 effort from day 2 with the only 20-pound stringer on day 3, a 23-03 bag that catapulted him past Mark Rose and Bryan Schmitt entering the final day. His 65-06 total is 15 ounces ahead of Schmitt, whose weight fell off to 16-04 today after two 23-plus pound stringers.

"I would like to cap it off with a win for sure. That would be pretty special," said Frederick, whose previous best finish in FLW competition was a 6th at the Lake Chickamauga FLW Series last year. "Words can't describe this. I haven't won it yet, though, but being in the lead is exciting going into tomorrow."

Despite falling a spot to 3rd, Rose is still in contention with 61-03 after sacking 13-14, almost 9 1/2 pounds lighter than his day-2 stringer.

Cory Johnston replaced brother, Chris, in the top 5 as he moved into 4th with 53-11 behind a 16-12 effort. Chad Morgenthaler punctuated his return to the FLW Tour with a 12-spot move up to 5th with a 19-14 stringer to give him 53-00.

Here's a look at the top 10 entering the final day of competition, with deficit margin from Frederick indicated by red numbers in parentheses:

1. Tim Frederick: 65-06
2. Bryan Schmitt: 64-07 (0-15)
3. Mark Rose: 61-03 (4-03)
4. Cory Johnston: 53-11 (11-11)
5. Chad Morgenthaler: 53-00 (12-06)
6. Brandon McMillan: 52-11 (12-11)
7. Jared McMillan: 51-14 (13-08)
8. Scott Canterbury: 51-12 (13-10)
9. Chris Johnston: 50-08 (14-14)
10. Christopher Brasher: 48-13 (16-09)

Christopher Brasher caught 9-14 today to snag the 10th spot with 48-13, winning a tiebreaker based on his day-1 weight (22-00) over Brandon Mosley, who also had 48-13.

In what's believed to be a first in FLW Tour competition, two sets of brothers made the top 10 - Brandon McMillan and Jared McMillan are 6th and 7th, respectively, while Chris Johnston (Cory's brother) is 9th.

With the water temperature now solidly in the 60s, competitors are convinced they are catching fish preparing to spawn or in the midst of the ritual. Some noted getting several more short strikes today, an indication that fish aren't being as aggressive as they have been.

The wind continued to be a factor today and will be again Sunday, when clouds and afternoon rain are expected to move in.



FLW
Photo: FLW

Frederick will carry a 15-ounce lead into the final day.

Frederick Excited To Be Leading

> Day 3: 5, 23-03 (15, 65-06)

Last season, Frederick got a taste of what momentum felt like. After misfiring in the opener with a 120th-place finish at Lake Guntersville, he put together a string of decent finishes, including two top-20 showings, to climb into contention for the Forrest Wood Cup.

While his bid to make the Cup fell short by seven points, it affirmed the value of a good start to the season and with two Florida tournaments atop the 2018 schedule, he didn't want to squander this opportunity.

The former custom closet builder said today was a "true grind" compared to the first two days, but he was able to fool three big females into biting a black and blue Strike King Ocho, a soft plastic stick worm with eight sides to it.

He's not sure how many more fish or big fish are left in the area he's been fishing. Scott Martin and Cody Meyer were eliminated today and had been fishing nearby.

"I'm surprised I had the only 20-pound bag today," he said. "I knew how tough it was. At 11:30 or 12:30, I started seeing other boats running around. Either they were struggling or saving fish, but I felt like they were struggling, so I feel like I surprised myself with 20 pounds."

He's setting modest goals for the final day.

"If I could go and get 14 or 15 (pounds) I'd be happy," he said. "If I can get 16 or 17 I feel like I can win it. It's getting tougher and the clouds and rain are coming. That's not helping. Plus, I don't know how many fish are left for me."

2nd: Schmitt Unshaken

> Day 3: 5, 16-04 (15, 64-07)

Schmitt is still upbeat despite falling out of the lead. He remains convinced the fish to win are still in the area he and several others have beat up all since Thursday.

"I feel good because I have a shot and I feel like I'm around the winning fish," he said. "I just didn't get lucky today. Maybe tomorrow. I fished the same water in the same area and had a couple missed opportunities. It seemed like it was an overall tougher day. I don't know what to make of it.

"Pressure is definitely a big deal in that area. I had four fish hit the heck out of my bait and not get hooked. That's usually a sign that you're down to the dire straits of what could be there."

Still, he possesses the same amount of confidence as he had last year when he won at the Mississippi River.

"At the end of the day, I feel about the same," he said. "Both places, I knew the winning fish were in there."

He caught all of his fish today winding reaction baits. He's excited for the opportunity to notch career Tour win number two.

"I couldn't ask for a better scenario," he added. "I feel very fortunate and feel like I could be making a name for myself."

3rd: Rose May Go To Backup Plan

> Day 3: 5, 13-14 (15, 61-03)

Rose admitted he lost a little faith today in the area that was so good to him (and several others) over the first couple of days. Maybe it's a combination of the wind stirring up the bottom and the amount of fishing pressure and boat traffic, he says.

Still, it's going to be hard to not go back there Sunday morning at least to give it a once-over.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Mark Rose isn't sure how long he'll stick around in what's been his best area on Sunday.

"It's 3 feet deep with grass so any time a trolling motor goes through there it messes it up," he said. "We've caught a lot of big ones out of that area. I think we might've maxed it out. I'll make a pass tomorrow to see how many boats are around and look at the water. If my gut tells me to leave, and I'm thinking it may, I have a backup plan. The only thing is I haven't seen any 7s or 8s in there. You never know, though. It's built a lot like this place. It has the right kind of holding areas for big fish to move into."

Rose said slower presentations have been more effective for him so far.

"I don't know if I'm working my bait different from some, but it seems to be slow is the key for me," he said. "Even on swim jigs or vibrating jigs, I have to let it get into the grass and get grass on it. Seldom do you have that aggressive sight-bite like that."

Despite facing a deficit of 4-03, he's not conceding anything to the two anglers ahead of him.

"If we were on Beaver, I'd be saying, 'Let's try to get 2nd or 3rd,' but here I'm very optimistic," he said. "I feel like I'm still in contention to win and that's how I'll treat tomorrow."

4th: Johnston Rallied in Afternoon

> Day 3: 5, 16-12 (15, 53-11)

Cory Johnston started today in the same area as his brother and Schmitt and Rose, among others, but after a while, not catching fish started to wear on him. He a made a move and within a couple hours had compiled enough weight to move into the top 5.

"I had a really tough morning," he said. "I had zero fish until noon. I made a few changes and found a new area and caught them all there. It had definitely been fished before, but I think I'm fishing it a little different.

"That area where the six of us were just got pounded. I knew early I needed to make a change."

He said moving baits produced all of his bites today, a change of pace from the first two days when soaking a plastic worm was most effective.

He knows he's facing an 11-plus pound gap to Frederick, but after his brother caught 28 1/2 pounds on Friday, he's not ruling anything out.

"Anything's possible on this lake," he said. "It just takes those few key bites. Still, this is a great way to start the year and get the momentum going."

5th: Morgenthaler Had Quality, Not Quantity

> Day 3: 5, 19-14 (15, 53-00)

Morgenthaler is usually a force in Florida and when he knew he'd be returning to the FLW Tour, he immediately circled the first two events on the schedule - Okeechobee and the Harris Chain of Lakes in a few weeks.

"The schedule fit the way I wanted to fish and when you're putting this kind of money on the line, I want to fish where I want to fish," he said. "It's good to be back and it definitely feels good to get off on the right foot. Someone like Andy Morgan has the ability to come back out of a hole. I don't typically work like that. Every top 10 I can get is icing on the cake to get those points built up because somewhere down the line, I'm liable to crash."

He's thrilled to have made the top-10 cut in the opener and after having not caught anything resembling a 6-pounder so far, he hopes his biggest bag will come Sunday.

FLW
Photo: FLW

Chad Morgenthaler caught nearly 20 pounds today and move into the top 5.

"I typically come here looking for the same stuff," he said. "The lake has changed a lot and the wind takes a lot of areas out of play. I found a large area and have been able to move with the fish. I' m doing the same thing I typically do - I find those spots where the fish stop for a few minutes before heading in."

He caught far fewer fish today than he had over days 1 and 2 and is hoping to figure out how to get consistent bites through the final day.

"I can catch them out of the gate, but I hit a lull from about 10 until 1," he said. "That's usually my strong time, but I haven't been able to put a pattern together that will produce anything different from what I'm doing. I just have to fish through it. There's no question there's 20 more pounds out there. I honestly think 25 is there if everything is to go right."

15th: No Regrets for Lawyer

> Day 3: 5, 13-04 (15, 46-13)

Jeremy Lawyer found himself in 71st place after day 1 and climbed up to 14th on day 2 behind a 21-02 stringer that earned him another day at Okeechobee.

After slipping one spot today, he was more than happy to kick off the season with a top-15 finish.

"I have no complaints about anything," he said. "You always want to try to win, but I didn't have the bites to win and fished clean.

"It's a momentum-builder for sure. Financially, it puts you back into the black a little bit. Between your ears, to start off the points race with a 15th is a welcome sight, no doubt."

He said the wind dictated where he fished more on day 2. In the pad field where he was, he figured out the fish had moved more to the windy side where debris clumps were starting to gather. Today was a different story.

"I feel like they started to set up and were bedding," he added. "They were more reluctant to leave and take a bait. I had a bunch bite off the pinchers or get the tail."

Notable

> Day 3 stats - 30 anglers, 25 limits, 3 fours, 2 threes.

Weather Forecast

> Sun., Jan. 28 - Chance of Rain - 80/63
- Wind: From the SE at 10 to 20 mph

Day 3 Standings

1. Tim Frederick -- Leesburg, Fl -- 16-4 (5) -- 25-15 (5) -- 42-3 (10) -- 23-03 (5) -- 65-06 (15)

2. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 24-11 (5) -- 23-8 (5) -- 48-3 (10) -- 16-04 (5) -- 64-07 (15)

3. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 24-0 (5) -- 23-5 (5) -- 47-5 (10) -- 13-14 (5) -- 61-03 (15) -- $500

4. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, On -- 20-11 (5) -- 16-4 (5) -- 36-15 (10) -- 16-12 (5) -- 53-10 (15) -- $500

5. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 16-0 (5) -- 17-2 (5) -- 33-2 (10) -- 19-14 (5) -- 53-00 (15)

6. Brandon McMillan -- Clewiston, Fl -- 18-7 (5) -- 18-6 (5) -- 36-13 (10) -- 15-14 (5) -- 52-11 (15)

7. Jared McMillan -- Belle Glade, Fl -- 18-15 (5) -- 14-9 (5) -- 33-8 (10) -- 18-06 (5) -- 51-14 (15)

8. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, Al -- 13-15 (5) -- 19-7 (5) -- 33-6 (10) -- 18-06 (5) -- 51-12 (15)

9. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, On -- 14-10 (5) -- 28-7 (5) -- 43-1 (10) -- 7-07 (5) -- 50-08 (15)

10. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 22-0 (5) -- 16-15 (5) -- 38-15 (10) -- 9-14 (5) -- 48-13 (15)

The following anglers missed the cut and will not compete on day 4.

11. Brandon Mosley -- Choctaw, Ok -- 20-9 (5) -- 16-6 (5) -- 36-15 (10) -- 11-14 (5) -- 48-13 (15) -- $12,000

12. Michael Neal -- Dayton, Tn -- 21-0 (5) -- 12-1 (5) -- 33-1 (10) -- 15-03 (5) -- 48-04 (15) -- $12,000

13. Tyler Stewart -- West Monroe, La -- 21-2 (5) -- 13-15 (5) -- 35-1 (10) -- 13-03 (5) -- 48-04 (15) -- $12,000

14. Cody Meyer -- Auburn, Ca -- 16-13 (5) -- 17-2 (5) -- 33-15 (10) -- 13-05 (5) -- 47-04 (15) -- $12,000

15. Jeremy Lawyer -- Sarcoxie, Mo -- 12-7 (5) -- 21-2 (5) -- 33-9 (10) -- 13-04 (5) -- 46-13 (15) -- $12,000

16. Casey Scanlon -- Lake Ozark, Mo -- 13-5 (5) -- 20-7 (5) -- 33-12 (10) -- 12-10 (5) -- 46-06 (15) -- $12,000

17. David Williams -- Maiden, NC -- 19-8 (5) -- 10-3 (5) -- 29-11 (10) -- 16-03 (5) -- 45-14 (15) -- $12,000

18. James Watson -- Lampe, Mo -- 14-13 (5) -- 17-2 (5) -- 31-15 (10) -- 12-12 (5) -- 44-11 (15) -- $12,000

19. Brett Preuett -- Colfax, La -- 17-0 (5) -- 17-13 (5) -- 34-13 (10) -- 9-06 (5) -- 44-03 (15) -- $12,000

20. Alex Davis -- Albertville, Al -- 12-11 (5) -- 16-6 (5) -- 29-1 (10) -- 13-07 (5) -- 42-08 (15) -- $12,000

21. Scott Martin -- Clewiston, Fl -- 16-15 (5) -- 16-14 (5) -- 33-13 (10) -- 8-10 (5) -- 42-07 (15) -- $10,000

22. Matt Becker -- Finleyville, Pa -- 16-8 (5) -- 13-0 (5) -- 29-8 (10) -- 12-04 (5) -- 41-12 (15) -- $10,000

23. JT Kenney -- Palm Bay, Fl -- 19-3 (5) -- 11-2 (5) -- 30-5 (10) -- 11-06 (5) -- 41-11 (15) -- $10,000

24. Barry Wilson -- Birmingham, Al -- 16-0 (5) -- 15-4 (5) -- 31-4 (10) -- 9-03 (5) -- 40-07 (15) -- $10,000

25. David Nichol -- Gainesville, Ga -- 19-8 (5) -- 12-10 (5) -- 32-2 (10) -- 7-10 (5) -- 39-12 (15) -- $10,000

26. Jay Kendrick -- Grant, Al -- 12-14 (5) -- 17-12 (5) -- 30-10 (10) -- 8-03 (4) -- 38-13 (14) -- $10,000

27. Billy McCaghren -- Mayflower, Ar -- 11-7 (5) -- 18-10 (5) -- 30-1 (10) -- 8-03 (4) -- 38-04 (14) -- $10,000

28. Kerry Milner -- Bono, Ar -- 12-15 (5) -- 17-7 (5) -- 30-6 (10) -- 7-07 (3) -- 37-13 (13) -- $10,000

29. James Niggemeyer -- Van, Tx -- 15-15 (5) -- 14-0 (5) -- 29-15 (10) -- 6-14 (4) -- 36-13 (14) -- $10,000

30. Zell Rowland -- Montgomery, Tx -- 14-9 (5) -- 15-10 (5) -- 30-3 (10) -- 5-12 (3) -- 35-15 (13) -- $10,000