Monroe County bass fisherman Joshua Weaver got his first major career win on Friday and a $115,000 prize by catching over 72 pounds of bass at the Tackle Warehouse Invitational at Lake Okeechobe in Florida.
Weaver brought a five-bass-limit to the scale on Championship Friday weighing 26 pounds, 4 ounces to win Power-pole Stop 1 of the Major League Fishing’s Tackle Warehouse Invitational. Weaver’s three-day total of 72-9 earned him his first major career win by a whopping 8-pound, 13-ounce margin over second-place pro Colby Schrumpf of Illinois. Weaver will now also receive an invitation to compete at Redcrest 2024.
The 2023 season marks Weaver’s seventh year on tour with MLF. The six-time championship qualifier said he had a dream years ago that he would get his first major win on Lake Okeechobee – a dream that finally became reality at the first 2023 Tackle Warehouse Invitational tournament.
After ending Day 1 in 61st place with only 14 pounds, 12 ounces, Weaver weighed in the largest limit of the event on Day 2 – five bass totaling 31-9 – to catapult into 2nd place. The Georgia pro brought another solid limit of 26-4 to the scales on Friday to seal the deal and take home the championship hardware.
“This tournament has been the kind of event you dream about having,” said Weaver. “The first day I lost quite a few fish and was pretty bummed but backing it up with over 30 pounds yesterday and another 26-pound bag today is just incredible – Okeechobee has been unbelievable to me this week.”
Championship Friday started off with a bang, with Weaver catching more than 20 pounds within the first hour. But several hard-charging pros stayed in contention throughout the day, making it impossible for him to let off the gas.
“I knew I needed at least 24 pounds to have a shot at winning, and I got pretty close to it this morning,” said Weaver. “But with Michael Neal right behind me, I knew I was nowhere near safe. I sweated it out all day, and never really thought I had it in the bag, until I got back here to the weigh-in and people began congratulating me.
“I kept with a similar game plan today, starting in the same area as the two days prior,” Weaver continued. “I got in there early this morning and things kicked off quick.
“I ran to my second spot mid-morning, where I’d caught a big bag on Day 2, but only caught 2-pounders. I pivoted back to my starting spot and caught a 3½- and a 5-pounder, so I decided to just stay in there all day and slowly culled up.”
Weaver said he credits his win to the heavy 7’6” Favorite Fishing Hex Casting Rod and reel he was throwing all week.
“I spent most of the week winding a Z-Man ChatterBait with a Googan Baits Happy Trailer and a swim jig around anything that I thought might have a female bass on a bed,” said Weaver. “This lake is really something special to me because it fits how I like to fish – I’m a shallow water grass fisherman. The last two times I’ve been here haven’t been so great, so I’m excited that we’ve righted those wrongs this week.
“It definitely hasn’t hit me yet,” said Weaver, who graduated from First Presbyterian Day School in Macon. “You wait so long for a day like today, then when it happens, you’re just in a daze. I’ve wanted this for so long. This is the reason why we do what we do. For it to finally happen after seven seasons – finishing in 2nd place multiple times and a ton of Top 10’s – to finally get it done is a relief and I’m already looking forward to the next tournament.”