Austin Wins Bass Fishing League Tournament at Santee Cooper

April 8, 2024
Bass Fishing League (BFL) News

SUMMERTON, S.C. (April 8, 2024) – Boater Kyle Austin of Ridgeville, South Carolina, caught a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 14 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Bass Fishing League (BFL) tournament on Santee Cooper Lakes. The tournament was the second event of the season for the BFL South Carolina Division. Austin earned $3,632 for his victory.

You could say it was just another day at the lake for Austin, and as ordinary as that may sound, he’s no ordinary angler. A local bass and catfish guide, Austin spent the week putting his clients on some big cats before jumping in the tournament “kind of for fun.” It turned out to be another fantastic weekend for Austin, as he earned his second big win at Santee Cooper this year – the other being the Bassmaster Open that Austin won in mid-March.

“That was probably the first wave of spawners that came to the bank was during that event,” he said of the Open. “The weather was perfect, so we had a big wave of fish pull up three weeks ago. Ever since then, it’s just been an up-and-down roller coaster.”

Changing weather, cold fronts, fluctuating water levels; all the usual springtime changes have challenged local anglers. Those challenges continued in the tournament thanks to strong winds.

Austin started his morning on an area with some cypress trees where he’d been seeing birds working all week. It was loaded with shad, and he thought there might be an early shad spawn happening. He just couldn’t tell for sure because of the wind crashing into the spot. In fact, the wind was so strong he had to shift how he fished the trees.

“I went around the backside of the trees. It was like a little island,” he said. “I caught them pretty much every other cast for 10 to 15 minutes early this (Saturday) morning. That was kind of the key to start.”

The spot was adjacent to a backwater area. Austin described it as a “highway” where bass pass by on their way into the backwater to spawn.

“I caught them all on a spinnerbait and a bladed jig, and we got right in a hurry,” he added.

He spent the rest of the day running isolated cypress trees that were in relatively deeper water – about 3 to 4 feet. Though he never got a real big bite, Austin was able to cull up twice to get from 21 pounds to his final weight of 22-14. It turned out, he needed every bit of those final two fish. Austin finished just 1 ounce ahead of runner-up Conrad Manuel.

Austin said his go-to lures were a Strike King Thunder Cricket vibrating jig with a Strike King ElazTech Z Too trailer and a Treeshaker Tackle Company spinnerbait.

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Kyle Austin, Ridgeville, S.C., five bass, 22-14, $3,632
2nd:       Conrad Manuel, Pilot Mountain, N.C., five bass, 22-13, $1,816
3rd:       Freddie Gamble Jr., Manning, S.C., five bass, 22-9, $1,675
4th:        Wade Grooms, Bonneau, S.C., five bass, 19-13, $847
5th:        Ronnie McCoy, Lamar, S.C., five bass, 18-15, $726
6th:        Derek Schlotterback, Simpsonville, S.C., five bass, 16-13, $666
7th:        Scott Browning, Franklin, N.C., five bass, 16-7, $605
8th:        Jeff Coble, Manson, N.C., five bass, 16-0, $514
8th:        Oakley Connor, Travelers Rest, S.C., five bass, 16-0, $514
10th:     Justin Cromer, Sumter, S.C., five bass, 15-5, $424

Complete results can be found at

Freddie Gamble Jr. of Manning, South Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and earned the Big Bass Boater award of $465. Todd Huntley of Inman, South Carolina, won the co-angler division and $1,816 Saturday, after bringing four bass to the scale that totaled 11 pounds, 10 ounces.

The top 10 co-anglers finished:

1st:        Todd Huntley, Inman, S.C., four bass, 11-10, $1,816
2nd:       Andrew Pitman, Clover, S.C., two bass, 11-9, $908
3rd:       Brian Tucci, Myrtle Beach, S.C., four bass, 10-9, $606
4th:        Kyle Nash, Chapin, S.C., four bass, 9-9, $424
5th:        Brandon Driggers, Timmonsville, S.C., three bass, 9-7, $363
6th:        Bobby Henderson, Charlotte, N.C., three bass, 9-2, $433
7th:        Marvin Godard, Charlotte, N.C., three bass, 8-7, $303
8th:        Brennan Gunther, Johns Island, S.C., one bass, 7-9, $504
9th:        Colby Cotterill, Alpharetta, Ga., one bass, 5-10, $242
10th:     Austin Stamey, Inman, S.C., two bass, 5-9, $212

Brennan Gunther of Johns Island, South Carolina, earned the Big Bass co-angler award of $232, catching a bass that weighed in at 7 pounds, 9 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After two events, Kevin Chandler of New London, North Carolina, leads the Fishing Clash South Carolina Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 480 points, while Todd Huntley of Inman, South Carolina, leads the Fishing Clash South Carolina Division Co-Angler of the Year race with 494 points.