LA CROSSE, Wis. (Sept. 12, 2022) – Boater Clayton Weber of West Salem, Wisconsin, caught 10 bass weighing 34 pounds, 2 ounces, to win the two-day MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Tournament on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The tournament was hosted by the La Crosse County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and was the fifth and final regular-season event for the Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division. Weber earned $5,886 for his victory.
“I’m on cloud nine,” Weber added. “This win was one of those things where you don’t know if it will ever happen, but you never stop trying.”
Weber said he started out his tournament by locking to Pool 7 of the Mississippi to fish for smallmouth, but the main channel was rough from storms and wind. Weber said he changed his plans, and he went to a place he had found largemouth schooling on bait fish.
“I really didn’t know how big they were, but I knew there were a good number of them,” Weber said. “I caught about 14½ pounds of them in about 10 minutes, then left them alone to fish for smallmouth. I was able to cull two times with smallmouth. Then I went back to my largemouth, and on my first cast I culled up to the fish I weighed in.”
Weber said Sunday’s weather was much better for him with wind and clouds, but no rain. He returned to his largemouth but found they had repositioned because of the weather change. He managed to eke out 12½ pounds of largemouth there, then relocated to smallmouth water.
“I started culling out my 2½ pounders, so I was gaining a crazy amount of weight,” Weber said.
Weber said his largemouth were in grass, feeding on a school of gizzard shad on a flat. He said he caught them on a Kureiji Sakana Tackle Company Panic Swim Jig, which features a wide, side-to-side wobbling action that mimicked the gizzard shad running from bass. Weber’s smallmouth fell for a number of baits, including an Evergreen Shower Blows topwater bait, a Carolina rig and a swimbait.
“For the smallmouth, it just seemed that every fish ate its own bait,” Weber said.
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Clayton Weber, West Salem, Wis., 10 bass, 34-2, $5,886
2nd: Cade Laufenberg, La Crosse, Wis., 10 bass, 33-10, $3,643 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF5 contingency bonus)
3rd: Kyle Meyer, Blaine, Minn., 10 bass, 31-14, $1,964
4th: Mike Brueggen, La Crosse, Wis., 10 bass, 31-14, $1,373
5th: Benny Stutzman, Caledonia, Minn., 10 bass, 31-6, $1,177
6th: Rob Leidholdt, Milton, Wis., 10 bass, 30-3, $1,079
7th: Chad Moldenhauer, Coon Valley, Wis., 10 bass, 29-8, $981
8th: Tong Lor, La Crosse, Wis., 10 bass, 28-14, $883
9th: Jeff Benson, Holmen, Wis., 10 bass, 28-10, $785
10th: Joe Pollak, Lake Geneva, Wis., 10 bass, 28-8, $1,737
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Max Ford of Genoa, Wisconsin, caught a bass weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – to earn the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $795. Nicholas Oates of Marengo, Illinois, won the Strike King Co-angler Division and $3,366 Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 21 pounds, 15 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
1st: Nicholas Oates, Marengo, Ill., 10 bass, 21-15, $3,366
2nd: Matt McVeigh, Fort Dodge, Iowa, nine bass, 20-3, $1,458
3rd: Mark Folsom, Waterville, Iowa, nine bass, 19-9, $971
4th: Kevin Clark, Lancaster, Wis., nine bass, 19-7, $680
5th: Devan Jenkins, Milwaukee, Wis., eight bass, 16-12, $583
6th: Lee Lewis, Peoria, Ill., eight bass, 16-10, $535
7th: Jessie Pollard, Whitehall, Wis., six bass, 15-14, $486
8th: Larry Litchfield, Macomb, Ill., six bass, 15-2, $437
9th: David Ondrla, Elmhurst, Ill., six bass, 14-15, $389
10th: Jeff Pfeffer, Isanti, Minn., six bass, 14-11, $340
Brian Brecka of Alma, Wisconsin, caught the largest bass in the Strike King Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 4 pounds, 5 ounces. The catch earned him the Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $394.
With the regular season now complete, boater Jeff Ritter of Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, won the 2022 Bass Fishing League Great Lakes Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with a five-event total of 1,323 points to earn the $1,000 boater AOY award. Mark Folsom of Waterville, Iowa, won the 2022 Strike King Co-Angler Great Lakes Division AOY race with 1,300 points and earned the $500 Strike King Co-angler of the Year award.