Califano and Haff close the door on Number Four

CLEWISTON — Qualifier Number Four of the 2019 Roland Martin Marine Center Series presented by HUK is in the books. As the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida, the competition came to play and the big Lake Okeechobee bass joined in on the celebration.

Sunrise in Clewiston on Saturday launched 120 boats for the final qualifier of the 2019 season. When they returned to the stage starting at 3 p.m., the big bass started tipping the scales. And with 26.41 lbs., including an 8.99 big bass kicker, the team of Gerald Califano and Robert Haff landed the big check of the day.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Ray Otterson
With 26.41 lbs., including an 8.99 big bass kicker, the team of Gerald Califano and Robert Haff landed the big check of the day.

“We caught a lot of fish today,” said Califano. “Probably about 50 on Chrome Rat-L-Traps and Gambler worms all around the grass.”

“I caught the big one early on a Rat-L-Trap,” said Haff. “And we were able to grab another big one and a third to give us a pretty good limit. We knew we had a chance but were surprised with the win.”

Not only did they take home the winner’s check for $6,000, but they also added $500 for U.S. Sugar Big Bass and another $250 as the highest finishing HUK angler for a total payday of $6,750.

In second place was the team of JP Mckay and Paul Wormser with a total weight of 24.08 lbs. About 2 ½ pounds off the lead that netted them $3,000. They also added $250 to their payday as the highest finishing Mercury owner.

“We had the big one on,” said Mckay. “We got her to the boat, but she got off. Like they say, that’s fishing.”

“We were throwing the Gambler Big EZ in hologram,” said Wormser. “We caught a lot of fish today and we’re looking forward to the Championship in December.”

The third place team of Dave Cepek and Jimmy Weise were pitching reeds all day and filled a limit of 22.54 pounds that rounded out the top three and earned them a check for $1,450.

“We only caught about a dozen fish today,” said Cepek. “But we found the five we needed.”

“We spent all day in the reeds,” said Wormser. “Pitching a Gambler Burner Craw in black and blue was our bait of choice.”

The payouts continued with $500 RMMC Bonus Bucks going to Joey Callahan, the highest finisher that bought a new boat at Roland Martin Marine Center. Harry Holstein collected $250 as the highest finishing Gilbert Family of Cars owner presented by South Florida Chevy Dealers. Breezy Davis took home $100 as the Mary Ann Martin top Female Finisher. Val Osinksi and Skip Reed won 2 Ark Rods presented by Boat Covers Anywhere for being the closest team to 15 pounds without going over. And going small paid off big for Rylan Kozinski and Samuel McDuffie, collecting the $300 AV Inspection Smallest Limit Award.

With four qualifiers in the books, it’s on to the championship in December. Teams must have fished in three of the four qualifiers to fish in the championship where the winning team takes home $25,000. That’s how we say Happy Holidays in Clewiston.

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