Donaldson Wins Bass Fishing League Tournament at Kerr Lake

May 8, 2023
Bass Fishing League (BFL) News

HENDERSON, N.C. (May 8, 2023) – Boater Travis Donaldson of Cleveland, North Carolina, caught a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds even Saturday to win the MLF Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament on Kerr Lake. The tournament was the third event of the season for the BFL North Carolina Division. Donaldson earned $3,671 for his victory.

“If you had told me I’d catch 19 pounds out there today I would have called you a liar,” said Donaldson. “I’m telling you, it was a grind out there. I can’t believe I caught that bag.”

Donaldson, a self-proclaimed “river rat,” said that a couple of weeks ago he fished the upriver section of Kerr, and while he caught a number of fish, he couldn’t amass a solid weight. He returned upriver to practice for the BFL event, and after similar results decided to change tactics.

“I said, ‘I’m not doing this again,’” Donaldson said. “So, I ran to the Nutbush Bridge area.”

Donaldson said he began using his Garmin Livescope to search for bass under docks and keyed in on docks that held baitfish. That pattern would be the key to his success on tournament day.

“They were up shallow, and I was throwing a jig, and I immediately started catching them,” Donaldson said. “My first fish was a 5-pounder, and the day just went on from there. I lost a couple of fish, and it started getting in my head, but I continued to run the pattern. Everything I pulled up on had a 3- or 4-pounder on it.

“At the end of the day I pulled up to a spot close to the boat ramp, threw the jig, and saw a green flash,” Donaldson continued. “I set the hook and it was another 4-pounder. It did everything in its power to come off. I landed the fish and my co-angler said, ‘You just won this thing.’”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

                1st:        Travis Donaldson, Cleveland, N.C., five bass, 19-0, $3,671
                2nd:       David Cooke, Mooresville, N.C., five bass, 18-2, $1,835
                3rd:       Shawn Hammack, Gasburg, Va., five bass, 16-4, $2,194 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
                4th:        Rodney Bell, Salisbury, N.C., five bass, 15-2, $856
                5th:        Jeremy Talbert, Albemarle, N.C., five bass, 14-13, $734
                6th:        Kevin Chandler, New London, N.C., five bass, 14-9, $673
                7th:        Bradley Staley, Sophia, N.C., five bass, 14-2, $612
                8th:        Tyler Trent, Nathalie, Va., five bass, 13-15, $551
                9th:        Landon Whicker, Winston-Salem, N.C., five bass, 13-14, $789
                10th:     Brian Morgan, Maiden, N.C., five bass, 13-13, $428

John Wiese of Charlotte, North Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $470. Mark Hughes of Lexington, North Carolina, won the co-angler division and a total of $1,816 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 12 pounds, 14 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

                1st:        Mark Hughes, Lexington, N.C., five bass, 12-14, $1,816
                2nd:       Bobby Henderson, Charlotte, N.C., five bass, 12-5, $1,308
                3rd:       Matthew Talbert, New London, N.C., five bass, 11-0, $606
                4th:        Justin Bach, Kannapolis, N.C., three bass, 10-11, $656
                5th:        Ty Cooke, Mooresville, N.C., five bass, 10-5, $363
                6th:        Wes House, Knightdale, N.C., five bass, 10-2, $333
                7th:        Jesse Jodon, Windber, Pa., five bass, 10-1, $303
                8th:        Samuel Jones, Fuquay Varina, N.C., five bass, 9-14, $272
                9th:        Teddy Drew, Gold Hill, N.C., five bass, 9-1, $242
                10th:     Jeff Luckadoo, Mount Holly, N.C., four bass, 9-0, $212

Justin Bach of Kannapolis, North Carolina, earned the Big Bass co-angler award of $232, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 2 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.