Sato Wins Bass Fishing League Tournament on Lake Hartwell

February 27, 2023
Bass Fishing League (BFL) News

LAVONIA, S.C. (Feb. 27, 2023) – Boater Spencer Sato of Gainesville, Georgia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 11 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament on Lake Hartwell. The tournament was the second event of the year for the BFL Savannah River Division. Sato earned $12,119, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

In only his fifth time on Lake Hartwell, the 25-year-old Sato said he focused his efforts on main-lake features early, and managed to eke out a small limit by 9:30. Online research by Sato had provided him with a couple of other promising areas, so he relocated down the lake and found two groups of quality fish. He landed another couple of 4½-pounders, then decided to let the spot rest.

Sato said he caught 15 to 20 keepers during the course of the day by targeting structure, secondary points and bends in ditches in 20 to 45 feet of water with a finesse swimbait on a 3/8-ounce head. After he let his quality fish area rest for an hour and a half, he returned and caught another 4-pounder and a 3½-pounder and had his final weigh bag.

“I knew at that point I might have a top-five finish,” Sato said. “With the weather warming, I thought it would trigger the big largemouth to bite, and people caught big ones here and there, but nobody managed to put together a stringer of big ones.

“I know a lot of guys go a long time without ever winning a BFL event, so to knock one out pretty early in my fishing career is definitely a big accomplishment for me,” Sato added. “I’m very thankful and grateful for it.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

                1st:        Spencer Sato, Gainesville, Ga., five bass, 19-11, $12,119 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
                2nd:       Paul Marks, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 19-1, $2,059
                3rd:       Chase Stewart, Ware Shoals, S.C., five bass, 18-9, $1,374
                4th:        Brent Willey, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 18-2, $892
                4th:        Greg Glouse, Liberty, S.C., five bass, 18-2, $1,362
                6th:        Jayme Rampey, Liberty, S.C., five bass, 17-11, $755
                7th:        Bradley Day, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 17-9, $686
                8th:        Tallis Morrison, Royston, Ga., five bass, 17-8, $618
                9th:        Adam Rice, Belton, S.C., five bass, 17-1, $549
                10th:     Emil Wagner, Marietta, Ga., five bass, 16-12, $780

Matthew Justice of Fair Play, South Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $565. Timothy Jones of Honea Path, South Carolina, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,059 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 18 pounds, 12 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

                1st:        Timothy Jones, Honea Path, S.C., five bass, 18-12, $2,059
                2nd:       Todd Huntley, Inman, S.C., five bass, 16-5, $1,030
                3rd:       James Akins, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 15-0, $687
                4th:        Damon Phillips, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 14-5, $480
                5th:        Mark Yarborough, Salem, S.C., five bass, 13-9, $412
                6th:        Brandon Hendrix, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 13-6, $378
                7th:        Michael Miller, Greenville, S.C., five bass, 12-14, $343
                8th:        Darren Jeter, Candler, N.C., five bass, 12-13, $292
                8th:        Joseph Tucci, Salem, S.C., five bass, 12-13, $574
                10th:     Thomas Pennell III, Boiling Springs, S.C., five bass, 12-12, $240

Tucci earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $282, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 6 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After two events, Paul Marks of Cumming, Georgia, leads the BFL Savannah River Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 494 points, while Todd Huntley of Inman, South Carolina, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 494 points.