Hellebuyck Wins Bass Fishing League Tournament at the Detroit River

July 10, 2023
BFL News Archive

TRENTON, Mich. (July 10, 2023) – Boater Chris Hellebuyck of White Lake, Michigan, caught a five-bass limit weighing 23 pounds, 3 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament on the Detroit River . The tournament was the first event of the season for the BFL Michigan Division. Hellebuyck earned $13,795, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

“I made a good, long run across Lake St. Clair today, and ran up into the St. Clair River,” said Hellebuyck, who earned his second career victory. “I got to my first spot where I had caught a couple of fish in practice, and when I got there, they were biting but it wasn’t that great. We caught a fair number of smaller fish, and then I started throwing a popper and caught a real big one right off the bat. I thought, ‘There’s got to be something to that.’ I kept throwing the popper, and it turned into one of those special days.”

Hellebuyck said he decided on a perch-imitating Booyah Boss Pop Popper after he saw alewife busting the surface on shallow river flats in eight feet of water.

“You’d see the alewife come flying out of the water, then you’d see a big brown bass fly after it,” Hellebuyck said. “We knew they were feeding, and you’d throw the popper over there and almost always catch those fish. But a lot of times just a slow retrieve with the popper worked. The bass would just blow up on it on the pause.

“I had a couple of other places in that area, and I ran over and hit those and caught a couple of big ones here and there,” Hellebuyck added. “It was a short fishing day after such a long run – I only had probably 3½ hours total of fishing time. Then I had to make my way back.”

Hellebuyck, who won his first BFL event on the Detroit River in 2021, said managing his weigh fish and managing his time were critical to his tournament win and special day.

“This win feels really good,” Hellebuyck said. “I don’t know why it feels so good to win the second one. The first one was almost just a blur. It was unexpected. It was so cool to win the second one. It was something to really enjoy - just a special day.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

                1st:        Chris Hellebuyck, White Lake, Mich., five bass, 23-3, $13,795 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
                2nd:       Aaron Jagdfeld, Rochester, Mich., five bass, 21-15, $2,288
                3rd:       Brayden Federer, Adrian, Mich., five bass, 21-8, $1,525
                4th:        Mike Trombly, Belleville, Mich., five bass, 21-7, $1,068
                5th:        Elijah Meyers, Fort Wayne, Ind., five bass, 21-6, $1,247
                6th:        Scott Dobson, Clarkston, Mich., five bass, 20-12, $1,171
                7th:        Noah Stauffer, Gowen, Mich., five bass, 20-10, $763
                8th:        Matt Vermilyea, Perrysburg, Ohio, five bass, 20-6, $648
                8th:        Patrick Goodman, Sturgis, Mich., five bass, 20-6, $648
                10th:     Scott Cooke, Marengo, Ohio, five bass, 20-3, $534

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, and Elijah Meyers of Fort Wayne, Indiana, both caught bass that weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces to split the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $664. Dan Beach of Clarkston, Michigan, won the Strike King co-angler division and $2,288 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 21 pounds, 3 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

                1st:        Dan Beach, Clarkston, Mich., five bass, 21-3, $2,288
                2nd:       Emmanuel Schwartz, Colon, Mich., five bass, 19-5, $1,476
                3rd:       Chris Kistler, Logansport, Ind., five bass, 18-12, $648
                3rd:       Cory Yoder, Goshen, Ind., five bass, 18-12, $648
                5th:        Billy Crider, Jr., Kettering, Ohio, five bass, 18-6, $458
                6th:        William Gross, Columbia Station, Ohio, five bass, 18-4, $419
                7th:        Kaleb Parsell, Caro, Mich., five bass, 17-2, $381
                8th:        Steve Doak, Sylvania, Ohio, five bass, 16-13, $343
                9th:        Jay Shaffer, Bath, Mich., five bass, 16-11, $305
                10th:     Garry Collins, Russell Springs, Ky., five bass, 16-9, $267

Emmanuel Schwartz of Colon, Michigan, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $332, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 14 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.