SPRING CITY, Tenn. – Boater Kibbee McCoy of Knoxville, Tennessee, caught a three-bass limit weighing 12 pounds, 2 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Watts Bar Lake. The tournament, hosted by Fish Dayton/Rhea Economic & Tourism, was the fourth event of the season for the BFL Volunteer Division. Kibbee earned $7,563, including the lucrative $2,500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.
“I’ve been down here every Thursday and Sunday for about two and a half months, so I had kind of developed a one-two punch,” said McCoy. “I was fishing offshore, deep ledges during practice. And, also, since the mid-1980s, I’ve fished the face of that dam. So, I decided to run to the dam and fish it first thing. No luck, though, because they weren’t pulling any current.”
McCoy changed tactics and focused his efforts on deep water, but the change produced no results. He returned to the dam again and fished it this time with a Buckeye Lures Spot Remover 1/8-ounce jig head and a green-pumpkin Zoom Finesse Worm with a chartreuse-dyed tail.
“In practice, I would catch one or two that way and then leave,” McCoy said. “I knew how they positioned themselves based on how much current they were pulling. But I’ve never really caught any big fish off the dam, just some 2½- to 3-pounders.”
McCoy said he would catch a couple of bass on the face of the dam, leave to fish other spots, then return to the dam and repeat the jumping back and forth. McCoy said he caught a total of 20 fish during the course of the day, including one from a brushpile that fell for a Zoom Ol’ Monster worm.
“The last time I went back to the dam, I told my co-angler, ‘This will be our last cast, and then we’re going to have to run to weigh-in,’” McCoy said. “I flipped a Ned rig up there with a 1/10th-ounce Z-Man (Finesse) Shroomz jig (head) and a (Z-Man) Finesse TRD and caught a 6-pound, 11-ouncer on the last cast. It replaced a 1.92 fish on my scales. Needless to say, that was a big upgrade.
“I knew that it would probably take 11 to 12 pounds to win,” McCoy added. “When I first caught that big fish, I thought it was a drum because they stay deep, and usually largemouth came up to the surface. I wasn’t going to give up on it, though. When it came up for a second time and I saw the side of it, I said, ‘That’s her right there.’ She went down again, and I said, ‘When she comes up again, put her in the net.’ I kept the pressure on and was using 10-pound braid and 8-pound Trilene fluorocarbon. She came up, the net was in the right position, and it was history.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Kibbee McCoy, Knoxville, Tenn., three bass, 12-2, $7,563 (includes $2,500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd: Brandon Young, Kingston, Tenn., three bass, 12-1, $2,214
3rd: Gavin Daniels, Kingston, Tenn., three bass, 10-11, $1,478
4th: Derick Robinson, Friendsville, Tenn., three bass, 9-2, $1,033
5th: Tony Eckler, Lebanon, Tenn., three bass, 8-9, $849
5th: Jacob Woods, Loudon, Tenn., three bass, 8-9, $849
7th: Chase Henley, Kingston, Tenn., three bass, 8-6, $1,188
8th: Joseph Tallent, Knoxville, Tenn., three bass, 8-3, $664
9th: Rob Linkous, Rogersville, Tenn., three bass, 8-2, $590
10th: Tommy Brown, Louisville, Tenn., three bass, 7-14, $517
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
McCoy’s big bass that weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces, also earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $635.
Peyton Kent of McDonald, Tennessee, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,531 Saturday, after bringing three bass to the scale that totaled 9 pounds even.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Peyton Kent, McDonald, Tenn., three bass, 9-0, $2,531
2nd: Roger Phillips, Clinton, Tenn., three bass, 8-13, $1,107
3rd: Joey von Hoene, Erlanger, Ky., three bass, 7-6, $738
4th: Wesley Carroll, Wartburg, Tenn., three bass, 7-4, $917
5th: Evan Green, Jacksboro, Tenn., three bass, 6-15, $443
6th: Luke Shrader, Monticello, Ky., three bass, 6-11, $556
7th: Josh Massengale, Oliver Springs, Tenn., three bass, 6-9, $369
8th: Shaun Godsey, Decatur, Tenn., three bass, 6-8, $332
9th: Darren Kelly, Wartburg, Tenn., three bass, 6-7, $276
9th: Billy Joe Wheat, Evensville, Tenn., three bass, 6-7, $276
Kent also earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $317, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 13 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After four events, Dillon Falardeau of Hixson, Tennessee, leads the BFL Volunteer Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 915 points, while Luke Shrader of Monticello, Kentucky, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 958 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 Dale Hollow Lake in Byrdstown, Tennessee. 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: 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.