Original Caption: BIG CATCH: Rob Newell hoists a lunker bass on stage in Clewiston as he wins the co-angler title. January 1999, News-Press, photo credit: Mark Hume/News-Press.

Today’s Friday Finale historical photo is of then 28-year-old Rob Newell, and dates back to 1999.  At the time, Rob had dreams of being a professional bass angler.  According to the article, he financed those dreams by doing some guiding as well as running his own lawn care/landscaping company.  As we now know, life as a professional touring angler didn’t pan out, as this was his only FLW win.  Instead Newell adapted into the role of roving reporter and photographer, and now is a well-known industry media veteran.

Back to the Okeechobee story, getting “the big bite he needed to win the co-angler division of the season-opening Wal-Mart FLW Tour bass tournament on Lake Okeechobee Friday, Newell, of Tallahassee, weighed in three fish weighing 8 pounds, 14 ounces, including a bass of about 6 pounds, to win the $15,000 top prize.”

The story continues, “It was quite a blessing,” said Newell, 28, of his big fish.  “It bit about 12 o’clock. I had two little babies in the livewell and I was really starting to get nervous.  I really didn’t realize how big it was until I got it in the livewell.

“I figured I had three or four hours to get a few bites.  Of course, that one there made up plenty of ground.”

Newell had fished the FLW Tour the previous year and finished 12th in the co-angler point standings to qualify for the FLW Championship, where he finished in fourth, his best finish.

Interestingly, this event was Scott Martin’s first ever FLW Tour event also, as he, too, was fishing as a co-angler.  In fact, he finished second to Rob, and just happened to be paired with his father, Roland, who had made the Top 10 cut on the boater/pro side.  Scott had much better fortune as a professional angler, garnering 8 wins and nearly $3 million dollars in winnings in FLW Tour events.