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Claremore’s McDonald Kicks Off Season With Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event on Grand Lake

GROVE, Okla. – Boater Brendon McDonald of Claremore, Oklahoma, caught a five-bass limit weighing 21 pounds, 12 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Grand Lake. The tournament, hosted by the City of Grove, was the first event of the year for the BFL Okie Division. McDonald earned $7,000 for his victory.

“It was a bit chilly this morning,” McDonald said with a laugh. “I ran to my first spot and fished for about 20 minutes and ended up hooking a fish that weighed 7-4, and that was the first fish in the livewell.”

McDonald said he landed another bass in that area and then decided to relocate. The mid-lake move paid off, as McDonald finished out his limit by fishing shallow brush. McDonald said he caught eight fish during the course of the tournament, and had his limit by 10:30 a.m. McDonald utilized an Alabama rig with Keitech swimbaits as well as a Berkley Stunna Jerkbait 12 to boat his bass.

“I didn’t figure I’d win the tournament, but I thought I’d be in the top five,” McDonald said. “This win feels great. I had taken a few years off after fishing with a torn ACL. But I thought, ‘I’m not getting any younger and it’s time to see what I can do. I put my focus on fishing the BFLs this year, and it feels good to get the year started off the right way.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Brendan McDonald, Claremore, Okla., five bass, 21-12, $7,000
2nd:       Kyle Kitts, Joplin, Mo., five bass, 19-0, $3,000
3rd:       Justin Barbour, Tulsa, Okla., five bass, 18-11, $2,000
4th:        Sheldon Collings, Grove, Okla., five bass, 18-0, $1,400
5th:        T.J. Martin, Claremore, Okla., five bass, 17-6, $1,700 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
6th:        Kirk Smith, Edmond, Okla., five bass, 17-2, $1,300
7th:        Mick Fenn, Grove, Okla., five bass, 16-7, $1,520
8th:        Roger Fitzpatrick, Eldon, Mo., five bass, 16-4, $900
9th:        Nathen Luce, Claremore, Okla., five bass, 16-2, $800
10th:     Kevin Miller, Shell Knob, Mo., five bass, 15-11, $700

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

McDonald’s 7-pound, 4-ounce bass earned him the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $1,000.

Jeff Moss of Oronogo, Missouri, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $3,750 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 13 pounds, 3 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:        Jeff Moss, Oronogo, Mo., five bass, 13-3, $3,750
2nd:       Jacob Cooper, Leon, Kan., four bass, 11-11, $1,500
3rd:       Sydney McCoy, Oklahoma City, Okla., three bass, 11-3, $1,000
4th:        Ken Hagar, Colcord, Okla., five bass, 10-1, $700
5th:        Tanner Ray, Owasso, Okla., two bass, 9-3, $1,100
6th:        Steve Duncan, Amarillo, Texas, two bass, 7-14, $550
7th:        Kaleb O’Brien, Wagoner, Okla., two bass, 7-11, $500
8th:        Bryce Steel, Wagoner, Okla., two bass, 6-13, $450
9th:        Ronnie Weisinger, Miami, Okla., one bass, 6-7, $400
10th:     Michael Shistine, Springdale, Ark., one bass, 5-14, $350

Tanner Ray of Owasso, Oklahoma earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $500, catching a bass that weighed in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

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, 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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