Multiple agencies in Florida are searching for an angler who went missing on the first day of a fishing competition on Thursday, Jan. 4, after his boat capsized on Lake Okeechobee, TCPalm reported.
Organizers initially delayed the three-day Okeechobee Costa Series when a boat did not return after the first day of the tournament. That vessel belonged to Bill Kisiah and Nik Kayler.
Kisiah was found at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday along with the boat, but Kayler was not with him. Authorities searched overnight and on Friday.
Fishing League Worldwide then canceled the competition “in order to concentrate all efforts on the ongoing search for co-angler Nik Kayler.”
Kayler’s boat had been in an accident before it was found.
“The boat was recovered in Pahokee around 1130 hours last night at a boat ramp with Bill Kisiah,” the Clewiston Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. “It was then learned that the boat capsized.”
The Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) said it was assisting in the search efforts.
“At this time, air search and recovery operations are still being conducted under the guidance of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and local authorities,” the company stated in a press release.
Kisiah was in serious condition at the Belle Glade Hospital on Friday morning.
Bill Kisiah is from Slidell, Louisiana, and Nik Kayler is from Apopka, Florida. The pair were in a dark-colored Ranger Z521 boat with a red Evinrude G2 outboard motor, according to FLW. They planned to head to the South Bay area of the lake on end Thursday.
Kisiah competed in FLW competitions for nine years, while Kayler competed in 61 FLW events as a co-angler.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWS) officials said that the conditions on the lake overnight on Thursday were similar to the ocean.
“There is a lot of wind and a lot of movement,” Carol Lyn Parrish, of FWC, told TCPalm.
Clewiston Police wrote on Facebook that Kayler could be anywhere within a 30-mile stretch between Clewiston and Pahokee. TCPalm described the area as “stretch of water dotted with grass islands and partially submerged obstructions. ”
The National Weather Service reported the temperature on the lake overnight at 36 degrees.
A factor complicating the search is Lake Okeechobee’s sheer size. It is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States. It is 40 miles across at its broadest point and covers a total area of 730 square miles.
A total of 500 anglers in 250 boats were participating in the competition before it was canceled.
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