Tourney: Roland Martin Marine Center Series Championship
Venue: Lake Okeechobee
By: Ramon Iglesias
Date: Dec 10 & 11, 2016
CLEWISTON, FL – The 2016 Roland Martin Marine Center Series Championship is a wrap and the legendary Lake Okeechobee big bass hit the stage with some of the top anglers in the region all competing for the $15,000 winner’s check. In the end, it was the team of Gary Milicevic and Travic Drapal taking home the big check.
With conditions out of Clewiston mild with gusty winds, the weather played a part in keeping the approaching spawn in a holding pattern, but with the highest paying team trail in Florida ready to put two names on a big check, the big sticks came out to play.
After M.C. Chris Brill announced the final weight, Milicevic and Drapal were crowned the 2016 Roland Martin Marine Center Series Champions with a two-day total of 41.44 lbs earning the $15,000 winner’s check and the Interstate Batteries Champions Cup.
“Patience was key and working a Gambler Fat Ace slow today at the North End of the lake,” said Milicevic. “I only had five bites today but they were all good bites. Then when the sun came out we switched to Medlock Jigs and picked up one more good one.”
“We had our limit by noon,” said Drapal. “And we had a good feeling when the first one came early at over 7 pounds.”
Finishing second was the team of Benny Townend and Jay Jastrzemski. The day-one leaders earned $5,000 with their two-day total of 39.28.
“We left the ramp this morning with a similar game plan as yesterday,” Jastrzemski said. “We ran to the north end and stuck to the same plan and took us until about 2pm to fill out our limit. Then on the last pitch of the day, we hooked a four pounder, swung her into the boat, strapped everything down and made it back for the weigh-in.”
“On the ride back in, we figured it would take about 40 pounds to win,” Townend said. “So we knew we were close.”
Sticking to power fishing for the day one lead, the team switched up to a more finesse style on day two. Making the run to the north end each day paid off for the team.
“Pitching beavers and throwing a fluke were key for us today,” Townend said.
With a two-day total of 37.66, the team of Ron Yentz and Steve Forcell finished in third place earning $3,000.
“With the east wind today, we figured the south end was our best bet,” said Yentz.
“Throwing Brandon McMillian 4×4 Bass Jigs swim jigs and EZ swimmer trailers was the key in the stained water.”
“Our goal was to go and get our kicker first like yesterday,” Forcell said. “But we started with a five pounder instead of seven like on day one.”
U.S. Sugar Big Bass of day two went to Ronnie Martin with an 8.66 and Tom Littich was the day one big bass leader with 8.17 earing them a U.S. Sugar bonus check of $500 each.
Handing out over $37,000 in money and prizes for the Championship, the 2016 Roland Martin Marine Center Series has plans to continue growing and remaining the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida. With plans already in motion for the 2017 season, just like the legendary bass of Lake Okeechobee, bigger and better is the story here.
Happy Holidays and we’ll see you next season in Clewiston, FL.
First Place: Gary Milicevic & Travis Drapal, 10-fish, 41.44 lbs
Second Place: Ben Townend & Jay Jastremski, 10-fish, 39.28 lbs
Third Place: Ron Yentz & Steve Forcell, 10-fish, 37.66 lbs
Big Fish: Gregory Jones & Ronnie Martin, 8.66 lbs
Stay tune for next season’s schedule.