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Early Lunkers Lead Haines City’s Harris to Victory at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event at Harris Chain of Lakes

LEESBURG, Fla. – Boater Ben Harris of Haines City, Florida, caught a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 4 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on the Harris Chain of Lakes. The tournament, hosted by Visit Lake County, Florida, was the fourth event of the season for the BFL Gator Division. Harris earned $5,658 for his first MLF victory.

“I started out pretty quickly in the morning fishing a Bridgemaster stickbait and caught two that weighed 7 pounds,” said Harris, who began his tournament day fishing in Little Lake Harris. “I just tried to fill my limit after that and culled a few fish here and there.”

Harris said he caught around 20 keepers during the tournament, mostly by flipping outside grass lines with a Bridgemaster Medlock Lil’ Chub. Harris said for the most part the tournament pressure was taken off of him after he caught his two 7-pounders early.

“Around lunchtime, as I was culling up, I thought to myself, ‘Man, if I could just get one more good bite I would have a shot at winning,’” Harris said. “Normally it takes about 28 pounds to win, so I was really surprised when I won it with 25 pounds.

“This win has been a while coming,” Harris continued. “I’ve been in a bit of a slump for a while, so this has really picked it up for me. It feels awesome.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Ben Harris, Haines City, Fla., five bass, 25-4, $5,658
2nd:       Tyler Sheppard, Yulee, Fla., five bass, 22-15, $2,829
3rd:       Kennie Steverson, Umatilla, Fla., five bass, 22-9, $2,386 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
4th:        Stephen Williams, Green Cove Springs, Fla., five bass, 22-4, $1,320
5th:        Sean Wooten, Umatilla, Fla., five bass, 21-12, $1,132
6th:        Doug Walker, Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 21-4, $1,952
7th:        Mark Staton, Astatula, Fla., five bass, 19-11, $943
8th:        Dave Thomas, Casselberry, Fla., five bass, 19-4, $801
8th:        Joey Bloom, Winter Springs, Fla., five bass, 19-4, $801
10th:     Mason Boylan, Grant Valkaria, Fla., five bass, 19-3, $660

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Doug Walker of Okeechobee, Florida, caught a largemouth that weighed 9 pounds, 1 ounce, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $915.

James Ebey of Ocala, Florida, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,829 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 19 pounds, 10 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:        James Ebey of Ocala, Fla., five bass, 19-10, $2,829
2nd:       Pat Herolt, Citrus Springs, Fla., five bass, 18-7, $1,871
3rd:       Dean Haughey, Babson Park, Fla., five bass, 17-2, $945
4th:        David White, Winter Garden, Fla., five bass, 17-1, $660
5th:        Robert Chase Burlew, Inverness, Fla., five bass, 16-4, $566
6th:        Matt Anderson, Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 16-1, $519
7th:        Steven Obester, Palatka, Fla., four bass, 16-0, $621
8th:        Zachary Dunavant, St. Augustine, Fla., five bass, 15-10, $424
9th:        Adam Sangster, Sanford, Fla., five bass, 14-3, $377
10th:     Travis Clark, Morven, Ga., four bass, 14-1, $330

Pat Herolt of Citrus Springs, Florida, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $457, catching a largemouth that weighed in at 9 pounds, 3 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After four events, Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Florida, leads the BFL Gator Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 938 points, while Tyler Nekolny of Coral Springs, Florida, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 940 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. 12-14 BFL Regional tournament on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. 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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