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Joe Kozic, left, and Don Norton came up with the idea for the BIG SHOW Bass Tournaments.

As many of you know, Florida is considered by to be the “Bass Fishing Capital of the World”, and so it’s only fitting that one of the best, bass fishing tournament circuits, is being held right here in our backyard at Lake Istokpoga.

Don & Joe’s BIG SHOW bass tournaments, sponsored by the Highlands News-Sun, started their 2018-2019 season with their first event November 17th on Lake Istokpoga. A 20-degree temperature drop and high winds met the anglers in the early morning hours, along with hot coffee donated by Starbucks and donuts donated by Dunkin Donuts.

The winning team of Steve Dubois and Dan Stewart won First Place with 4 bass weighing in at 13 pounds and 2 ounces. They also took Big Bass honors with a 6 pound 13 ounce beauty. The team of Austin Tester and Roy Clark took Second Place with 5 pounds 11 ounces. Both teams won trophies and cash.

Don and Joe’s BIG SHOW Bass Tournaments, sponsored by the Highlands News-Sun, are adding a new touch to tournament bass fishing.

The 2018-2019 season will consist of 7 tournaments held monthly, beginning in November 2018 and ending in May 2019. Each tournament will be held on Lake Istokpoga, on the north end of the lake at Istokpoga Park (off Rt. 98). The tournaments will be team events with a $120.00 entry fee, and a one-time membership fee of $25.00 per angler.

100 percent payback of all entry fees, paying one place for every seven boats, makes this one of the highest paying tournaments in South Central Florida. State exemptions are issued for each tournament and allow each team to weigh in 5 bass with a minimum size of 12 inches.

Teams can sign up the morning of the tournament at the ramp, but for those anglers who wish to get a low take-off number, registration can be done by phone, email, and regular mail or in person prior to the tournament. I. D. cards are provided to each member to expedite early morning registration.

It’s the extra things that make this tournament circuit the BIG SHOW! Hot coffee and donuts in the morning, as well as hotdogs and soft drinks at the weigh-in are not something you see at most tournaments. Not to mention raffles and drawings, cash and trophies and the chance to win a FREE entry into the next tournament.

The BIG SHOW was conceived by a couple of local tournament anglers, Don Norton and Joe Kozic. “We talked about it for months, trying to think of things we’d like to see done differently, or better, and we finally decided to just do it”, Norton said. “What we wanted to create was not only a tournament format that paid well, and was well run, but an event that guys could actually bring their families to”, Kozic added.

The next BIG SHOW Bass Tournament is coming up soon, Dec. 15. We anticipate a good turnout for this tournament, so if you’re interested, or if you just want more information, give Don a call at 863-273-4998, or email Or Joe at 863-381-5794, or email


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