IUKA, Miss. (Sept. 11, 2023) – Boater Jake Lawrence of Paris, Tennessee, caught 10 bass weighing 51 pounds, 2 ounces, to win the two-day MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League tournament on Pickwick Lake in Iuka, Mississippi, by more than 20 pounds over the second-place finisher. The tournament was the fifth and final regular-season event for the Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division. Lawrence earned $5,690 for his victory.
Lawrence’s 20-pound, 11-ounce margin of victory was the second-largest winning margin in BFL history. Only Anthony Sharp’s 21-5 margin at Sam Rayburn Reservoir in 2020 was higher.
“It’s well known that Pickwick is fishing tough,” Lawrence said. “These fish are somewhere; they don’t just disappear. In my mind, when you have a big tournament with this caliber of anglers in it, and the weights are low, we’re just not fishing around them. So, I came into this with an open mind and tried not to fish like I generally do. And that’s what led me to the pattern I eventually ended up fishing. It was focused on where the bait was.”
Lawrence said he caught bass in depths from 5 feet to 28 feet in various locations, but one factor remained constant – the bass were found where baitfish were present.
“You just have to cover a lot of water in a situation like that,” Lawrence said. “It’s tough to put a finger on where you even start like that. I just put the trolling motor down and it just kind of led me to what it was. It wasn’t one specific area.”
Lawrence said he fished water from Bear Creek to the dam, but did not focus on a particular or recurring feature or pattern. His bait of choice was a 4-inch Jenko Fishing Booty Shaker Swimbait in no particular color.
“It seemed like I could catch every 3.20- to 3.80-pound fish in the lake, but when I finally came across a 5-pounder he would just follow my swimbait until he got to the trolling motor,” Lawrence said. “There was an acre or two out there where the bait was just kind of hanging out. And you could find those little zones, and they would be packed. There was no specific target; I was out there hunting and pecking.”
Lawrence posted a Toyota Series win at Kentucky-Barkley Lakes in April and has finished first in other local tournaments this year as well.
“It’s been a fun year,” Lawrence said. “I’m looking forward to the future.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Jake Lawrence, Paris, Tenn., 10 bass, 51-2, $5,690
2nd: Banks Shaw, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 30-7, $2,845
3rd: Chaz McMahan, Saint Joseph, Tenn., 10 bass, 28-13, $1,897
4th: Justin Bussey, Fulton, Miss., 10 bass, 28-10, $1,328
5th: Charles Watts, Corinth, Miss., 10 bass, 28-3, $1,138
6th: Trent Suratt, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., 10 bass, 27-11, $1,043
7th: Ty Cox, Iuka, Miss., nine bass, 27-10, $948
8th: Justin Atkins, Florence, Ala., nine bass, 27-8, $853
9th: Carl Lovett, Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., nine bass, 27-3, $759
10th: Monty Yeager, Florence, Ala., nine bass, 25-10, $664
Larry Jenkins of Memphis, Tennessee, had a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 11 ounces that was the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division and earned the Big Bass Boater award of $742. Brayden Gray of Pontotoc, Mississippi, won the Co-angler Division and $2,599 Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 33 pounds, 3 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers were:
1st: Brayden Gray, Pontotoc, Miss., 10 bass, 33-3, $2,599
2nd: Johnny Suratt, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., eight bass, 20-5, $1,299
3rd: Scott Kirk, Houston, Miss., seven bass, 19-2, $867
4th: Daniel Corkern, Florence, Miss., six bass, 18-10, $956
5th: Vernon Hearn, Lena, Miss., four bass, 13-6, $520
6th: C.J. Holbrook, Smithville, Miss., four bass, 13-0, $476
7th: Lewis Ritchie, Bogalusa, La., five bass, 11-3, $433
8th: Nathan Moore, Coffeeville, Miss., six bass, 10-14, $390
9th: Todd South, Florence, Ala., three bass, 9-5, $346
10th: Reggie Thornton, Columbus, Miss., three bass, 8-12, $303
Richie Madison of Jasper, Alabama, caught the largest bass in the Strike King Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 5 pounds, 8 ounces. The catch earned him the Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $326.
With the regular season now complete, boater Taurian Parks of Clinton, Mississippi, won the 2023 Bass Fishing League Mississippi Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with a five-event total of 1,273 points to earn the $1,000 boater AOY award. Hunter Averett of Carriere, Mississippi, won the 2023 Strike King Co-Angler Mississippi Division AOY race with 1,321 points and earned the $500 Strike King Co-angler of the Year award.