By BassFan Staff
On Saturday night, Tim Frederick started to wonder what it would be like to take hold of the $100,000 winner's check if he held on to win the FLW Tour season opener at Lake Okeechobee.
He said it'd be life-changing and it would allow him to start saving for the future.
"I grew up poor and have worked hard," he said. "I'm a pretty simple guy, but it would set me up for the future. It'd be nice to know I have something."
Then he caught himself in mid-thought and said he didn't want to assume anything. He knew there were still eight hours of fishing to go and a lot could happen - good and bad.
Frederick doesn't have to wonder anymore. Thanks to a late-day kicker Sunday that anchored his 19-14 stringer, the Leesburg, Fla., resident now knows what a six-figure payday feels like. He finished with 85-04 and beat Bryan Schmitt by just over a pound.
"I'm still a little shocked," Frederick said. "I didn't think that I had as much weight that I did today. Some of the best fishermen on the planet were fishing in this event and to come out on top after four days - this is a dream come true."
Schmitt, the leader after days 1 and 2, caught 19-11 today and closed with 84-02. Mark Rose held onto 3rd with a 17-02 stringer that gave him 78-05.
Jared McMillan punctuated his FLW Tour debut on his home lake with a 21-15 stringer that bumped him up three places to finish 4th with 73-13, just over four pounds better than his older brother, Brandon, who bagged 17-01 and improved one spot to 5th.
Here's a look at how the rest of the finalists finished up:
6. Christopher Brasher: 67-04
7. Chad Morgenthaler: 67-01
8. Scott Canterbury: 65-15
9. Cory Johnston: 60-05
10. Chris Johnston: 59-05
The epic moaning and groaning about how brutally tough practice was seems like a distant memory, thanks to some steady weather during the tournament that allowed the water temperature to climb into the 60s. That triggered the egg-laden females to move into staging areas around cover and then into spawning flats during the tournament.
The one constant was the wind. It caused FLW officials to prohibit anglers from running across the open-water portion of the lake, but it also moved dirty water into areas where some of the best fishing was. Coupled with the 187-boat field, it made for a reduced amount of fishable water compared to previous Okeechobee tournaments.
Details of the top finishers' patterns will be published in the coming days.
Frederick dropped to his knees to get his late-day kicker in the boat.
Frederick Stuck to his Plan
> Day 4: 5, 19-14 (20, 85-04)
After the weigh-in concluded Sunday, Frederick hung around on stage to draw winning numbers for prize giveaways. He was briefly interrupted as someone handed him a piece of paper folded in half - it was the $100,000 winner's check, which he slid into the pocket of his shorts before continuing to pluck numbers out of a hat.
It was an emotional win for Frederick, who was joined on stage by his father, a big influence on Tim's interest in fishing.
"I'm blessed. This is awesome," Frederick said. "I've dreamed of this since I was a kid. He taught me everything I know about fishing. He used to guide on the (Harris) chain and he kept us fishing and hunting and outdoors. There are so many things you can get into, but the outdoors you can't wrong with it. I owe it all to him."
Frederick's previous-best finish in a Tour event was 14th last year at the Harris Chain, his home waters and site of the next Tour stop Feb. 22-25. He cemented today's win with a late-day kicker in Harney Pond estimated to be in the 8-pound range. It came off a spot he'd fished earlier in the day and had a good fish come off.
"I had to get my composure and sit down for a minute, but I stuck with it," he said. "As hard as it was, I stuck with it. It paid off."
Without a solid backup plan, he remained there for the balance of the day and continued to make long pitches and short casts to reed clumps with a soft-plastic stick bait (black/blue) or a vibrating jig with a creature bait trailer.
"I was so stressed today," Frederick added. "I had a small limit and I had missed a good one earlier and I did not know whether to leave or to stay. I had to sit down for a minute and regain my composure and I decided to stick it out in that area. I had nothing else to go to, and that place had been special to me. With just 10 minutes left in the day, I caught a big one. It was a $100,000 fish."
2nd: Schmitt Came up Short
> Day 4: 5, 19-11 (20, 84-02)
It wasn't a numbers game today for Schmitt, but the quality was there and a late-day move nearly won him his second FLW Tour event.
"It was a really good day," he said. "I didn't catch as many, but I had a couple of the right ones."
In the last hour, he left the area he'd fished all week in search of an upgrade for a 1-pounder still in his livewell. It came in the form of a 5 ½-pounder that ate a Riot Baits Riot Stick
"I thought I had a shot at it, but I came up short," he added. "It was a good event."
Bryan Schmitt said there's nothing more he could've done today to change the outcome.
He said there's nothing he'd do differently looking back.
"There's always a chuck-and-wind shallow grass pattern to be found on the lake and I was part of it this time," he added. "That was a big deal."
3rd: No Regrets for Rose
> Day 4: 5, 17-02 (20, 78-05)
Rose went into today thinking that he if triggered two big bites and rounded out his limit with three solid keepers, he'd have a chance to win. Turns out, he came up a couple bites shy. Still, the man who won the first two events of the 2017 season had nothing to complain about with his 3rd-place showing this week.
"I'm not disappointed at all," he said. "I had to go back to where we caught those big fish. Any time you have a chance to win with one bite, you've made the right decisions."
With the wind shifting more out of the south today, it brought more stain into the main area he'd been fishing so he opted to maximize the area around it.
"The sweetest stuff got blown out," he added. "I started with a vibrating jig early and it just wasn't happening. I had a lot of things going through my head to try. I wanted to feel like I left no stone unturned. I wanted to flip and punch and also tied on a double prop bait."
He caught a couple on the topwater bait, but it led him on a "wild goose chase" since the sun had poked through and he wanted to comb through a few pockets where the water was warmer and protected from the wind. He had a couple other fish miss the topwater, so he opted to go back to the vibrating jig. He totaled five keepers on the day.
"I can go home content knowing it wasn't my time to win," he said. "When you're in the right area and don't get the bites to win, you know its someone else's time."
4th: Younger McMillan Thrilled with Outcome
> Day 4: 5, 21-15 (20, 73-13)
Jared McMillan was relaxing at home Sunday night, celebrating his Tour debut over takeout pizza. The 21-year-old said it's been a long, stressful week, but he's thrilled with how it turned out.
"It does feel good," he said. "I'm very grateful for how it turned out, especially after how tough practice was being a local. To be able to catch what I did, I feel pretty lucky. I feel like I made the right decisions. I wouldn't change anything."
After spending the first two days up north, he spent the weekend in South Bay, flipping a heavy weight into pennywort mats and other matted clumps of vegetation.
"I didn't know where I'd start (today)," he said. "I had a good idea of the general area in South Bay where I wanted to fish, but I knew Morgenthaler was ahead of me and he would pick.where he wanted to be. I didn't want to get in Chad's way and he picked his spot, but he didn't start where I thought he was going to.
"I caught two immediately and lost two good ones. That set the tone to keep pounding that area. By the time everybody showed up, I had already picked it clean."
Jared McMillan caught the lone 20-pound stringer today and rallied to finish 4th.
5th: McMillan Gets Assist from Little Brother
> Day 4: 5, 17-01 (20, 69-12)
A little help from his younger brother today went a long way in helping Brandon McMillan score his best Tour finish since finishing 5th at Okeechobee in 2012.
"I did everything I could to not climb up at all," he joked. "If it wasn't for Jared coming to get me around 1 p.m., I wouldn't have caught much."
He'd spent his tournament flipping a 1 ½-ounce weight and a black/blue/silver craw imitation in South Bay and had a sense the fish were starting to filter in there in big numbers, but today was a struggle. He fished near Jared for most of the morning, but once he got a sense Jared was having better success he moved on to another area and gave Jared space.
"I could see him," he said. "We were fishing pretty much the same stuff we've fished the last 10 years. I could see everybody show up around him and I could see the drone buzzing over him. I peeled off and went down about a mile."
It wasn't long before he had a visitor.
"I was gone for about 10 minutes and that's when he came over and told me to go back where he'd been," he said. "He already had 20 so I went back and cleaned up the scraps."
> Day 4 stats - 10 anglers, 10 limits.
1. Tim Frederick -- Leesburg, Fl -- 16-4 (5) -- 25-15 (5) -- 42-3 (10) -- 23-03 (5) - 19-14 (5) - 85-04 (20) -- $100,000
2. Bryan Schmitt -- Deale, Md -- 24-11 (5) -- 23-8 (5) -- 48-3 (10) -- 16-04 (5) - 19-11 (5) - 84-02 (20) -- $30,000
3. Mark Rose -- West Memphis, Ar -- 24-0 (5) -- 23-5 (5) -- 47-5 (10) -- 13-14 (5) - 17-02 (5) - 78-05 (20) -- $25,500
4. Jared McMillan -- Belle Glade, Fl -- 18-15 (5) -- 14-9 (5) -- 33-8 (10) -- 18-06 (5) - 21-15 (5) - 73-13 (20) - $20,100
5. Brandon McMillan -- Clewiston, Fl -- 18-7 (5) -- 18-6 (5) -- 36-13 (10) -- 15-14 (5) - 17-01 (5) - 69-12 (20) -- $19,000
6. Christopher Brasher -- Longview, Tx -- 22-0 (5) -- 16-15 (5) -- 38-15 (10) -- 9-14 (5) - 18-07 (5) - 67-04 (20) -- $18,000
7. Chad Morgenthaler -- Reeds Spring, Mo -- 16-0 (5) -- 17-2 (5) -- 33-2 (10) -- 19-14 (5) - 14-01 (5) - 67-01 (20) -- $17,000
8. Scott Canterbury -- Odenville, Al -- 13-15 (5) -- 19-7 (5) -- 33-6 (10) -- 18-06 (5) - 14-03 (5) - 65-15 (20) -- $16,000
9. Cory Johnston -- Cavan, On -- 20-11 (5) -- 16-4 (5) -- 36-15 (10) -- 16-12 (5) - 6-10 (5) - 60-05 (20) -- $15,500
10. Chris Johnston -- Peterborough, On -- 14-10 (5) -- 28-7 (5) -- 43-1 (10) -- 7-07 (5) - 8-13 (5) - 59-05 (20) -- $14,000