LA CROSSE, Wis. (Oct. 17, 2022) – Boater Mike Brueggen of La Crosse, Wisconsin, brought a three-day total of 15 bass to the scale weighing 56 pounds, 7 ounces, to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Tournament on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. For his victory, Brueggen earned $60,794, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000. Brueggen also receives automatic entry into the 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship, May 31-June 2, at Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina.
Brueggen, who now has racked up 60 top-10 finishes and 10 career wins, mainly on the Mississippi River, said he targeted sand in four to five feet of water in Pool No. 2 and used a crankbait and a Kureiji Panic Swim Jig on the first day of competition, followed by a spinnerbait and the swim jig on Day 2. Brueggen said he went back to the crankbait and swim jig on Day 3 and relied on white-colored baits to fill his limits.
“The color didn’t matter, really, as long as it was light-colored to imitate shad,” Brueggen said. “There was a lot of dead water, but when I caught one, I caught more than one.”
Brueggen, who has been fishing the Mississippi near La Crosse for about 20 years, said his confidence in the fishery played the biggest part in his victory. He dialed in his fish during practice and relied on his local knowledge to seal the win.
“This win feels amazing,” said Brueggen, who had come close many times, but never won a Bass Fishing League regional tournament. “I finally got one.”
The top six boaters that qualified for the 2023 Bass Fishing League All-American were:
1st: Mike Brueggen, La Crosse, Wis., 15 bass, 56-7, $60,794
2nd: Trey McKinney, Carbondale, Ill., 15 bass, 51-14, $10,794
3rd: Ian Leybas, McAlester, Okla., 15 bass, 50-13, $5,893
4th: Cade Laufenberg, La Crosse, Wis., 15 bass, 49-1, $4,638 (including $500 Phoenix MLF contingency bonus)
5th: Michael Pruitt, Martinsville, Ind., 15 bass, 47-5, $2,959
6th: Nick Uebelhor, Jasper, Ind., 15 bass, 46-3, $1,763
Rounding out the top 10 boaters were:
7th: Kollin Crawford, Broken Bow, Okla., 15 bass, 44-5, $1,567
8th: Travis Wilson, La Harpe, Ill., 15 bass, 43-12, $1,371
9th: Drew Cress, Highland, Ill., 15 bass, 42-10, $1,175
10th: Blake Knies, Jasper, Ind., 15 bass, 41-11, $1,077
The top four boaters from each division that earned a $1,000 bonus for placing highest in the event were:
Hoosier: Michael Pruitt, Martinsville, Ind., 5th Place, $1,000
Illini: Trey McKinney, Carbondale, Ill. 2nd Place, $1,000
Michigan: Frank Scalish, Jr., Columbus, Ohio, 13th Place, $1,000
Okie: Ian Leybas, McAlester, Okla., 3rd Place $1,000
Laufenberg took home an extra $500 as the highest finishing MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $7,000 per event in each Phoenix Bass Fishing League tournament if all requirements are met.
Brian Brecka of Alma, Wisconsin, weighed in 15 bass over three days totaling 40 pounds, 8 ounces to win the top Strike King co-angler prize package of $50,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.
The top six Strike King co-anglers that qualified for the 2023 Bass Fishing League All-American were:
1st: Brian Brecka, Alma, Wis., 15 bass, 40-8, $50,000
2nd: Chuck Davis, Farmington, Ill., 14 bass, 39-4, $5,659
3rd: Alan Bernicky, Joliet, Ill., 15 bass, 35-4, $2,855
4th: Shawn Overton, Coal Valley, Ill., 14 bass, 34-11, $1,973
5th: Dominic Bogolo, Hamilton, Ohio, 14 bass, 32-15, $1,482
6th: Branden Hardesty, Nineveh, Ind., 12 bass, 27-9, $884
Rounding out the top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
7th: Patrick Weir, Park Hill, Okla., 11 bass, 26-12, $1,285
8th: Brock Krohne, Belton, Mo., 10 bass, 24-13, $687
9th: Tommy Pritchard, Bargersville, Ind., 10 bass, 23-10, $589
10th: Dakota Nollen, Midwest City, Okla., eight bass, 23-4, $540
The top four Strike King Co-anglers from each division that earned a $500 bonus for placing highest in the event were:
Hoosier: Dominic Bogolo, Hamilton, Ohio, 5th Place, $500
Illini: Chuck Davis, Farmington, Ill., 2nd Place, $500
Michigan: Shawn Overton, Coal Valley, Ill., 4th Place, $500
Okie: Patrick Weir, Park Hill, Okla., 7th Place $500
The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Tournament on the Mississippi River was hosted by Explore La Crosse. It featured the top pros and Strike King co-anglers from the Hoosier, Illini, Michigan and Okie divisions.
The 2022 Bass Fishing League is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, advanced to one of six Regional Championships where they are competing to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.
The top boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the MLF Toyota Series, the pathway to the MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.