Body of missing fisherman found in Lake Okeechobee


Master Fisherman
BREAKING: Body of missing fisherman found in Lake Okeechobee

12:50 p.m Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 Local News




A commercial vessel on Wednesday morning found the body of the 38-year-old fisherman missing since Thursday on Lake Okeechobee.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed in a noon email that Nik Kayler’s body was found by “in the vicinity of the Clewiston water tower on the lake.”

Kayler, an Army veteran, husband and father from the Central Florida city of Apopka, was flung overboard Thursday into Lake Okeechobee as he and another angler participated in the first day of the Fishing League Worldwide’s 3-day Costa Series tournament.

At the Roland Martin Marina & Resort in Clewiston, where many of the searchers were staging to go onto the lake, friends and family members of Kayler gathered Wednesday morning, speaking quietly among themselves.

Nik’s brother, Phil, and his half-brother, Anthony Llanos, told a Post reporter that they weren’t ready to speak yet. “Give us time to breathe,” Phil Kayler said.

Organizers canceled the rest of the bass-fishing event on Friday after Nik went missing, and authorities, fellow boaters and volunteers have scoured the enormous lake — about one-third as big as all of Palm Beach County — since then.

Kayler was fishing with Bill Kisiah, 51, a professional angler from Slidell, La., in the tournament. After the men launched Thursday morning from Okeechobee, “preliminary information indicates that the vessel encountered rough waters and struck a wave and Mr. Kayler was ejected from the vessel,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a brief statement Monday afternoon.

A separate FWC report said that “efforts made by Mr. Kisiah were unsuccessful, as he was unable to recover his passenger due to suspected engine damage and conditions.” Weather officials have said winds could have made the lake choppy Thursday, especially toward its south end near Palm Beach County.

On Monday, Anthony Llanos, a former water survival instructor for the U.S. Marines, said he’s holding out hope that Nik is alive. He said Nik also has had survival training, withstood a similar stranding a few years back and was in top shape.

Kayler’s family offered a $10,000 reward for his recovery. Another competitor in the tournament set up a money-raising webpage for Kayler’s family on Sunday, with a goal of $15,000. In one day, it collected more than $20,000, and it was at more than $38,000 by noon Wednesday.

Besides the FWC, the U.S. Coast Guard and the sheriff’s offices from Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties were involved in the search. The Federal Aviation Administration halted flights over Lake Okeechobee while boats and aircraft looked for Kayler’s body.