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Benton’s Kirkpatrick Proves “Junk” is Enough for Victory at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event at Kentucky-Barkley Lakes

GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Boater Ryan Kirkpatrick of Benton, Kentucky, caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 6 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Kentucky-Barkley Lakes. The tournament, hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau, was the third event of the season for the BFL LBL Division. Kirkpatrick earned $5,463 for his victory.

“I pulled up to my first spot and was surprised there was nobody there,” said Kirkpatrick. “I caught four fish by 8 o’clock, which, in my opinion, was bonus fish, because I didn’t think I’d be able to get on that spot.”

Kirkpatrick said he relocated, caught his fifth fish to fill his limit, then settled in and went “junk fishing” on spots he had caught fish previously, from Moors Resort and Marina to Kenlake State Resort Park.

“I just junked it up, and it ended up being a pretty special day,” Kirkpatrick said. “That’s just how I grew up fishing, and that’s my style of fishing – junk fishing.”

Kirkpatrick said his approach to tournament fishing consists of hitting as many spots as he can with whatever baits it takes to have five quality bass at the end of the day. He said his bait arsenal for the competition included a spinnerbait, swimbait, swim jig, and soft plastics both flipped and dragged on whatever he deemed might hold a fish. Kirkpatrick said his approach landed eight to 10 keepers during the tournament.

“I had 13 rods on the deck when I started,” Kirkpatrick said. “I threw every one of them at least a handful of times.

“It was just one here and there pretty much all day long,” Kirkpatrick added. “I hoped I’d just get enough weight to get a top-5 finish for a trophy. I didn’t really think I had enough weight to win until they actually handed me the trophy.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Ryan Kirkpatrick, Benton, Ky., five bass, 17-6, $5,463
2nd:       Stephen Barga, Benton, Ky., five bass, 15-8, $2,232
3rd:       David Carroll, Manitou, Ky., five bass, 15-3, $1,489
4th:        Ethan Fields, Breese, Ill., five bass, 14-14, $1,041
5th:        Clint Knight, Lewisburg, Ky., five bass, 14-11, $1,093
6th:        Kevin Caskey, Madisonville, Ky., five bass, 14-10, $818
7th:        Harry Barber, Earlington, Ky., five bass, 14-9, $744
8th:        Sam Moll, Hershey, Pa., five bass, 14-6, $669
9th:        Drew Lynch, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 14-4, $595
10th:     Brady Bickers, Carrollton, Ky., five bass, 14-2, $521

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Jeff McCarnan of Henderson, Kentucky, caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $640.

Matt Chumbler of Carbondale, Illinois, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,214 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 14 pounds, 15 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:        Matt Chumbler, Carbondale, Ill., five bass, 14-15, $2,214
2nd:       John Lovin, Fayetteville, Ohio, five bass, 13-10, $1,107
3rd:       Levi Allgeier, Bardstown, Ky., five bass, 11-14, $738
4th:        Ron Robinson, Pittsburg, Ill., five bass, 11-10, $517
5th:        David Hoheisel, Westerville, Ohio, four bass, 9-14, $443
6th:        Anthony Bell Jr., Cincinnati, Ohio, four bass, 9-7, $387
6th:        Cayman Wilhelmus, Boonville, Ind., three bass, 9-7, $387
8th:        Carl Oelker, Greenbrier, Tenn., four bass, 9-5, $332
9th:        Barrett Washburn, Benton, Ky., three bass, 9-4, $295
10th:     Brendan Murphy, Cape Girardeau, Mo., three bass, 9-1, $258

Michael Blumer of Louisville, Kentucky, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $317, catching a bass that weighed in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After three events, Stephen Barga of Benton, Kentucky, leads the BFL LBL Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 747 points, while Sean O’Brien of McKenzie, Tennessee, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 713 points.

The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five tournament winners of each qualifying event, will qualify for the Oct. 19-21 BFL Regional tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. Boaters will fish for a top award of $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while co-anglers will compete for a top award of $50,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The 2023 Phoenix BFL Presented by T-H Marine is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 events throughout the season, five qualifying tournaments in each division. The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five qualifying event winners, will advance to one of six BFL Regional tournaments 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 BFL All-American. The 2023 All-American event will take place May 31-June 2, on Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina. The event is hosted by Visit Oconee SC.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, General Tire, Grundéns, Gill, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Mystik Lubricants, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.

For complete details and updated tournament information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

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