I’d planned to talk about plans for fishing in Florida in this weeks column, and how excited I am to be heading down later this month. Regretfully I have a report of a boating accident that occurred this past week at the FLW Costa Series Bass Tournament on Lake Okeechobee in southern Florida. The three day tournament was cancelled after one boat failed to return at the end of the first day of competition Thursday. One angler was found alive later that night and rescue efforts continue for the other angler.

Bill Kisiah of Slidell, La. remains hospitalized while the search continues for the missing fisherman, Nik Kayler of Apopka, Fla. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in this situation and we hope the young man is found alive.

My wife and family are worried about me going fishing alone in Florida and I can certainly understand. The plan is to load the camper on the truck this week after temperatures rise above freezing. The drive from here to Lake Toho near Orlando takes about 12 hours, and with rest area and gas station breaks I'll allow for a couple of days to get there. With the warmer weather that’s expected I’ll be catching big Florida largemouth bass to an audience of alligators while wearing a t-shirt this time next week. And as always I’ll keep safety and security in mind at all times.

Area fishing reports and tournament updates – The temperature hasn’t been above freezing in days and wind chills are at dangerously low levels. I don’t think anyone’s been out fishing around here in the last week or so. I’m seeing photos on the Internet of people catching giant pike and walleye ice-fishing in northern states where the ice is thick enough to support activity. Please don’t go out on any of the ice that’s formed over local ponds and on Kerr Lake in many areas. Ice does not form thick enough in this area to support anyone or anything.

Don’t forget the 2018 “Ice Bowl Catfish Tournament” on January 27th 2018 launching from Occoneechee State Park. Hopefully it’ll warm up enough to get out there. Pre-registration for the event will take place Friday January 26th, 2018 at the Lamp Lighter in Clarksville Va from 2:00pm – 6:30pm and the mandatory Pre-Registration Captains meeting will begin at 7:00pm. They have a Facebook page with more information.

Next week’s report - Warm weather fishing report from sunny Florida.

Tip of the week – Homeowners in the area are experiencing frozen water pipes now that they’d never had any problems with before. On the bright side maybe next time the weather gets this cold all the weak places in the pipes will be insulated and ready.

Contact the writer by email at waltbowen@yahoo.com