Florida boater Nick Thliveros of Saint Augustine, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 10 pounds, 15 ounces - enough to win the 2019 Costa FLW Series at Lake Okeechobee presented by Power-Pole. Thliveros, son of legendary bass angler Peter Thliveros, weighed in 15 bass over three days of competition totaling 46 pounds, 1 ounce, besting second-place angler Cody Nichols of Fayette, Alabama, by more than 4 pounds. For his victory, Thliveros earned the grand prize package worth $54,000.
"This feels amazing - one of those things that you lay in bed and dream about at night," said Thliveros, who was fishing in his 11th career tournament as a boater in FLW competition. "I've won fishing as a co-angler before, but to win as a pro in an event that I fished alongside my father is really, really cool. He is an amazing mentor, a heck of a teacher, and I wouldn't be here today without him."
Thliveros' limits weighing 15-14 on Thursday and 19-4 on Friday came from the same area of Lake Okeechobee - the Hendry Canal. He threw a crack-colored Lucky Craft RC 2.0 squarebill crankbait to catch all of his fish on the first two days of competition, an estimated 8 keepers on Thursday and 10 keepers on Friday.
"The key for me was the condition of the lake," Thliveros said. "I went and found the most stable water that I could find, where the weather and low water wouldn't affect the fish. That was in the rim ditches, catching fish that were trying to spawn.
"Today, the fish moved up and I couldn't figure them out," Thliveros continued. "I only had two little fish on the crankbait this morning, so I had to scrap that whole pattern around 10:45 (a.m.) and just went junk-fishing. I made my way to the back of the Monkey Box and was able to salvage 10 pounds and thankfully that was enough."
Thliveros fished a black and blue Nichols jig with a blue bug-colored Strike King Rage Craw and a Texas-rigged black, blue and silver-colored Bitters Salty Sling with a 1/32-ounce tungsten Bullet Weight to catch his limit Saturday.
"The rest of the southeastern division events set up really well for me, so I'm excited to see how everything shakes out this season," Thliveros went on to say. "This was definitely a great way to start the year."
The top 10 pros on Lake Okeechobee finished:
- Nick Thliveros, Saint Augustine, Fla., 15 bass, 46-1, $54,000
- Cody Nichols, Fayette, Ala., 15 bass, 42-0, $22,200
- Jason Abram, Piney Flats, Tenn., 15 bass, 42-0, $15,350
- Brett Preuett, Monroe, La., 14 bass, 39-9, $13,250
- Sandy Melvin, Boca Grande, Fla., 15 bass, 38-2, $12,250
- Bryan New, Belmont, N.C., 15 bass, 38-2, $9,625
- Lance Oligschlaeger, Gallatin, Tenn., 13 bass, 38-1, $8,300
- David Parsons, Dothan, Ala., 15 bass, 35-10, $7,300
- Billy Hall, Greenback, Tenn., 15 bass, 34-6, $6,300
- Val Osinski, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 15 bass, 32-4, $4,700
A complete list of results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Casey Warren of Galivants Ferry, South Carolina, weighed a 7-pound, 14-ounce, bass Friday - the biggest of the tournament in the Pro Division. For his catch, Warren earned the day's Boater Big Bass award of $300.
Andy Niles of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, won the Co-angler Division, a Ranger Z175 with a 115-horsepower outboard motor and $5,000 with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 40 pounds, 8 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers on Lake Okeechobee finished:
- Andy Niles, Ocean Springs, Miss., 10 bass, 40-8, Ranger Z175 w/115-horsepower outboard + $5,000 Ranger Cup
- Todd Scherr, Coral Springs, Fla., 15 bass, 32-11, $6,725
- Rodney Tapp, North Augusta, S.C., 15 bass, 32-7, $5,350
- Kyle Gelles, Pingree, Idaho, 14 bass, 32-6, $4,350
- Darin Mitchell, Rutledge, Ga., 13 bass, 30-12, $3,650
- Don Lewis, Jacksonville, Fla., 12 bass, 27-14, $3,150
- James Hatch, Gainesville, Fla., 11 bass, 27-1, $2,650
- Josh Driver, Hiram, Ga., 14 bass, 24-8, $2,075
- Calvin Clatterbuck, Conway, S.C., 10 bass, 22-4, $1,630
- Bryan Ray, Lake Leelanau, Mich., 11 bass, 19-9, $1,390
Gelles caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Thursday, a fish weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces. For his catch, Gelles earned the day's Co-angler Big Bass award of $200.