Joe Uribe Jr. of Surprise, Ariz. caught a 22-01 sack on Saturday to claim top honors at the Costa FLW Series Western Division opener at Lake Havasu. Uribe’s 3-day total of 51-13 was enough to earn him an $80,838 prize package, including a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
“The feeling is very surreal right now,” said Uribe, who also won the FLW Series event on Lake Havasu when the Series last visited the fishery in 2015. “I only fish FLW events out West and I couldn’t do it at this level without the support of my sponsors. I’m truly blessed.”
Uribe said he primarily spent his mornings targeting largemouths in Windsor Basin and his afternoons targeting smallmouth near rock piles. He said he caught all of his largemouths this week on a custom 7-inch swimbait, the same lure he used to win the event in 2015.
“I focused on shallow bays littered with tules and caught three largemouth on day1 ,” he said. “When the sun came out, I headed out to deep rock piles looking for smallmouth. I used a 'Ned rig'.
"It was a 3/16-ounce mushroom-head jig with a 7-inch watermelon laminate-colored Yamamoto Senko, cut down to 3 inches. I caught two smallmouth on it, including a 3- and a 4-pounder. Of the seven total bites I had that day, those two were my key fish.”
Uribe said he followed a similar pattern on Friday.
“I started out throwing the swimbait in the same shallow tules and got some bites. Around noon, I went back out to the rock piles with the Ned rig and caught a 3-pound smallmouth. On Friday, I found that the bass were really moving shallow, so on Saturday I knew I’d be staying up near the bank.”
Uribe said he finished the tournament in Windsor Basin, using the swimbait to put together his limit.
“I fished every shallow pocket with tules and stained water that I could find. I fished slow and methodically and caught 10 largemouth. I never lost a fish all week, which was huge for me.”
Here are the final totals for the Top 10:
1. Joe Uribe Jr.: 51-13
2. Mike Nichelini: 46-00
3. Jason Hickey: 45-14
4. Roy Hawk: 45-09
5. Marty Lawrence: 45-02
6. Gary Collins: 42-07
7. Justin Kerr: 42-05
8. Robert Lee: 42-03
9. Mark Williams: 41-05
10. Johnny Johnson: 37-13