LAKE OKEECHOBEE – After reportedly being ejected from a bass boat in rough waters during the 2018 Costa FLW Series event on Lake Okeechobee, angler Nik Kayler’s body has been recovered and positively identified, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. His body was discovered by a commercial vessel near the Clewiston water tower.
He was reported missing on Jan. 4, 2018 following day one of the fishing tournament.
Kayler’s recovery comes after an unprecedented search effort from officials and fellow anglers alike. Hundreds of outdoorsmen flocked to Lake Okeechobee from around the country to assist in the search. These individuals brought their own bass boats, bay boats, offshore boats, air boats and more. Others also jumped into action, donating their time, money and other resources whenever possible. Words of prayer and encouragement flooded various social media platforms throughout the search.
Spencer Howerton, a nine-year FLW co-angler, believes this incident might change the way anglers consider safety on the water.
“Nik will not die in vain,” he said. “Too many people were watching. Too many people, like me, know it so very easily could have been one of us. I may not have known him—I knew who he was, met him in line waiting to weigh in a few times—but man, I wish I had. Incredible guy, dad, brother, husband and from what you can see, a world-class angler. He was one of the ‘fellas’. From what I’ve learned about him, he’d be on the water right now searching for me if I were lost.
“I strongly feel this will be a catalyst for change. Living on the beach in Florida and fishing Okeechobee as my home water, I’m getting an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) for the Tour event. Just the increased level of awareness, and how this has captured the hearts of anglers around the world. People are thinking about safety now. This is heart crushing.”
Kayler was a 38-year-old military veteran and is survived by his wife and young daughter. If you’re willing and able, you can donate to the family’s GoFundMe page here.