COUNCE, Tenn. (Oct. 17, 2022) – Boater Timothy Kelley of Irmo, South Carolina, brought a three-day total of 12 bass to the scale weighing 42 pounds, 13 ounces, to win the MLF Bass Fishing League Regional Event on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee. For his victory, Kelley earned $60,868, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000. Kelley also received automatic entry into the 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship, May 31-June 2, at Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina.
The South Carolina angler said he found a spot that had produced a couple 5-pound bass over a few days of practice fishing, so he decided to stick to that area during the tournament.
“I ran straight to that spot on the first day of the tournament, sat the boat on my waypoint and sat there for 8½ hours,” Kelley said. “I relied heavily on my Minn Kota Talon Shallow Water Anchors to hold the boat position steady to target biting bass.”
Kelley said he stayed near a bluff ledge on the edge of a four-foot flat that was holding palm-sized gizzard shad. The baitfish gathered on an underwater point near the steep drop off.
“About every 45 minutes to an hour, I’d throw my topwater up there and the bass would just blow up on it,” Kelley said. “I knew what I was going to be doing for the next two days.”
Kelley said he returned to the same spot on the second day of the tournament, and while the bites were few and far between, they were quality ones. He spent all day picking apart the area with one bait – an Ima Little Stik, a herring-style, pencil-popper bait that Kelley said is popular back home on South Carolina fisheries.
“After the second day when I jumped up to fifth place and left the fish biting, I told my co-angler, ‘Things are about to get interesting,’” Kelley said. “Sure enough, on the last day I had the limit I weighed in by 9:30.”
The top six boaters that qualified for the 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American were:
1st: Timothy Kelley, Irmo, S.C., 12 bass, 42-13, $60,868
2nd: Drew Boggs, Lebanon, Tenn., 15 bass, 41-14, $10,668
3rd: Tony Eckler, Lebanon, Tenn., 14 bass, 37-4, $5,836
4th: Edward Gettys, Paris, Tenn., 13 bass, 37-3, $3,400 (including $500 Phoenix MLF contingency bonus)
5th: Robert Holland, Columbia, S.C., 11 bass, 36-4, $2,934
6th: Jason Lambert, Michie, Tenn., 13 bass, 36-0, $1,740
Rounding out the top 10 boaters were:
7th: Ryan Deal, Evansville, Ind., 13 bass, 34-11, $1,547
8th: Stu Moyer, Hardin, Ky., 12 bass, 33-15, $1,353
9th: Carl Norris, Clarkson, Ky., 11 bass, 29-10, $1,160
10th: Joshua Newsome, Rock Bridge, Tenn., 10 bass, 27-13, $1,063
The top four boaters from each division that earned a $1,000 bonus for placing highest in the event were:
Bama: Tommy Gunn, Cusseta, Ala., 12th Place, $1,000
LBL: Drew Boggs, Lebanon, Tenn., 2nd Place, $1,000
Music City: Tony Eckler, Lebanon, Tenn., 3rd Place, $1,000
South Carolina: Robert Holland, Columbia, S.C., 5th Place, $1,000
Gettys took home an extra $500 as the highest finishing Phoenix 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.
Gary Haraguchi of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, weighed in 11 bass over three days totaling 29 pounds, 2 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 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American were:
1st: Gary Haraguchi, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 11 bass, 29-2, $50,000
2nd: Brian Umstead, New Brockton, Ala., seven bass, 20-5, $5,346
3rd: Barry Gunter, Trafalgar, Ind., eight bass, 20-4, $3,020
4th: Bobby Simmons, Chancellor, Ala., seven bass, 18-14, $1,454
5th: William Chadick, Auburn, Ala., seven bass, 18-1, $969
6th: Bullet Helms, Charlotte, N.C., seven bass, 17-13, $1,372
Rounding out the top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
7th: Mike Langdale, Sycamore, Ga., seven bass, 17-12, $975
8th: Damon Brown, Mayfield, Ky., eight bass, 17-4, $678
9th: Philip Wright, Bedford, Ky., seven bass, 16-10, $581
10th: Wayne Crouch, Jamestown, Tenn., five bass, 15-14, $1,033
The top four Strike King Co-anglers from each division that earned a $500 bonus for placing highest in the event were:
Bama: Brian Umstead, New Brockton, Ala., 2nd Place, $500
LBL: Barry Gunter, Trafalgar, Ind.., 3rd Place, $500
Music City: Wayne Crouch, Jamestown, Tenn., 10th Place, $500
South Carolina: William Chadick, Auburn, Ala., 5th Place $500
The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Regional Tournament on Pickwick Lake was hosted by the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. It featured the top pros and Strike King co-anglers from the Bama, LBL, Music City and South Carolina divisions.