Their previous two days at the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup in St. Augustine had produced consistent 11-pound stringers. But Day Three was different, and it was different for everyone.
Just before noon, severe thunderstorms rolled in, sending damaging lightning and blinding rain from St. Augustine north to Jacksonville. The change in weather certainly affected the bite for many teams.
For O'Brien and Hastings, two smaller bites was all they needed to take the title. The only limit on a soggy Sunday saw the scales tip at 7.76 combined pounds.
Al Keller and Bill Faulkner climbed from fifth place to finish second in the tournament with one fish at 3.47 pounds.
The finish solidified their top spot in the Eastern Division's Angler of the Year competition.
Randy Hendrick and Brian Alderman took third after a goose-egg on the final day. Also bringing in nothing, Fred Grey and Herb Payne took fourth while Frank Geib and Mike Greenwood placed fifth.
"It was a very tough day, but we didn't think it would be that bad for everyone else," O'Brien said.
The winning team failed to have a fish in the boat until the midday storms had arrived. But with the weather and the wind came the topwater bite. Then, the bite disappeared again.
Without sun, O'Brien and Hastings were at a disadvantage.
"We couldn't sight-fish like we had done all tournament, so once the reds went up into the grass we were kind of blind casting," Hastings said.
But a last-minute change to a new spot ended up being the difference. For almost 10 minutes, a frenzy of tailing redfish gave the team their second fish. Several more slot-sized keepers allowed O'Brien and Hastings the chance to upgrade.
With hardly any time remaining, they ran full-throttle back to St. Augustine to get their fish weighed.
"It was stinging like bee-bees out there but we fought it," O'Brien said. "All we wanted to do was get back and get our fish weighed."
Hastings added this about the victory: "We were so happy to get back in with two fish. We'd just thought we'd just come in and take third place."