SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (Feb. 27, 2023) – Boater Johnny Patterson of Grant, Alabama, caught a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament on Lake Guntersville. The tournament was the second event of the season for the BFL Choo Choo Division. Patterson earned $6,300 for his victory. Patterson said he chose to stay close to takeoff on the upper end of Guntersville after fishing the Toyota Series event the previous weekend.
“It was a typical Guntersville pre-spawn bite with really no place being any better than another,” said Patterson. “I fished grass pretty shallow, probably four to five feet of water, with red- and shad-colored (Bill Lewis) Rat-L-Traps. We didn’t catch a whole lot of fish – maybe 12 to 15 keepers all day long.”
Patterson said there seemed to be definite feeding times where he would get a flurry of bites. At 1:30, Patterson landed a 5-pounder and a 7-pounder on back-to-back casts. Patterson said he found a gizzard shad in the 7-pounder’s throat – an obvious sign of an actively feeding fish.
“It never occurred to me that I might win this tournament after my disappointing showing at the Toyota Series event,” Patterson said. “I would just catch them and put them in the livewell and keep on digging. I didn’t really think I had that much weight until I started pulling them out of the livewell.”
“The Choo Choo division is just stacked with great fishermen, so it’s a real honor to pull one of these off,” Patterson added.
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Johnny Patterson, Grant, Ala., five bass, 25-1, $6,300
2nd: Gil Summerlin, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 24-3, $3,000
3rd: Lamar Patterson, Fyffe, Ala., five bass, 23-7, $2,000
4th: Jeff Kitchens, Auburn, Ala., five bass, 23-0, $2,100 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
5th: David Land, Owens Cross Roads, Ala., five bass, 22-3, $1,200
6th: Creig Kimbro, Monteagle, Tenn., five bass, 21-13, $1,100
7th: Michael Morrison, Stamping Ground, Ky., five bass, 21-8, $1,470
8th: Thomas White, Iron City, Tenn., five bass, 21-5, $900
9th: Jim Murray Jr., Parrott, Ga., five bass, 20-15, $800
10th: Cam Busby, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 20-14, $700
Fisher Anaya of Eva, Ala., caught a largemouth that weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $1,000. Rich Frey of Guntersville, Alabama, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $3,000 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 22 pounds, 7 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Rich Frey, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 22-7, $3,000
2nd: Clint Haley, Franklin, Ky., five bass, 22-1, $1,500
3rd: T.J. Blakely, Kingsport, Tenn., five bass, 19-15, $1,000
4th: Matt Cameron, Southside, Ala., five bass, 19-10, $700
5th: Ethan Shaw, Raymond, Miss., five bass, 19-9, $600
6th: Josh Hale, Roanoke, Va., five bass, 19-8, $550
7th: Sam Lemons, Vonore, Tenn., five bass, 18-4, $700
8th: Jerry Armstrong, Shelbyville, Tenn., five bass, 18-2, $450
9th: Daniel Swartz, Winfield, Ala., five bass, 17-8, $400
10th: Alex Roberts, Franklin, Tenn., five bass, 17-6, $350
Cobey Wagoner of McDermott, Ohio, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $500, catching a largemouth that weighed in at 8 pounds, 11 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After two events, pro Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama, leads the BFL Choo Choo Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 483 points, while Rex Henry of Hixson, Tennessee, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 481 points.