KIMBERLING CITY, Mo. – Boater Justin Luetkemeyer of Lake Ozark, Missouri, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 14 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Table Rock Lake. The tournament was the first event for the BFL Ozark Division. Luetkemeyer earned $7,000 for his victory.
Luetkemeyer, 25, began fishing Table Rock Lake during his College Fishing days at the University of Missouri, and has fished the body of water quite a bit during the last five years. He calls it his “second home lake” after Lake of the Ozarks. His familiarity with Table Rock paid off, as he was able to make slight adjustments that helped him key in on a winning pattern.
“I had a really good practice and was catching them a little bit more shallow for Table Rock this time of year – in trees and brush piles in the 20- to 30-foot range,” said Luetkemeyer. “I hit some of my areas, and there wasn’t much wind, and the fish that I did find in those areas were not active.
“So, I pulled into one of my better areas from practice, and there were some bait fish that had pushed in there, and I saw on my Garmin Livescope that the bass were feeding on them,” Luetkemeyer added. “Right away I caught one of my biggest fish – a 4-pounder – and I told my co-angler, ‘We’re probably going to stay here all day long.’”
Luetkemeyer said he sat on the mid-lake spot for six hours and caught an estimated 30 or 40 keepers there during the tournament. Luetkemeyer’s baits of choice were the YUM YUMbrella Flash Mob Jr. Umbrella Rig when the wind blew, and a Kaitech Swing Impact FAT Swimbait. He said he had to keep the boat 80 to 100 feet from the fish and make long casts to the fish with the swimbait. That one spot provided enough weight for the win for Luetkemeyer and an eighth-place finish for his co-angler.
“It was just a right time at the right place kind of thing,” Luetkemeyer said. “This win is something I’ve dreamed about for a long time. This is my second season of fishing BFLs, so I’m glad to get this win, and I hope to get many more in the future.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Justin Luetkemeyer, Lake Ozark, Mo., five bass, 18-14, $7,000
2nd: Eric Olliverson, Lampe, Mo., five bass, 18-5, $3,000
3rd: Ryan Butler, Blue Eye, Mo., five bass, 17-3, $2,500 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
4th: Dustin Lippe, Blue Eye, Mo., five bass, 17-1, $1,770
4th: Brock Bila, Ozark, Mo., five bass, 17-1, $1,300
6th: Shawn Kowal, Linn Creek, Mo., five bass, 16-15, $1,100
7th: Mark Long, Cape Fair, Mo., five bass, 16-14, $1,000
8th: Jason Beem, Gravette, Ark., five bass, 16-8, $800
8th: Cullen Baxter, Columbia, Mo., five bass, 16-8, $800
8th: Jacob Wisecup, Ava, Mo., five bass, 16-8, $800
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Nick Morris of Princeton, Missouri, caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $1,000.
Kirk Short of St. Clair, Missouri, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $3,500 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 15 pounds, 5 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Kirk Short, St. Clair, Mo., five bass, 15-5, $3,500
2nd: Brad Tyer, Grain Valley, Mo., five bass, 14-1, $1,500
3rd: Grant Denbow, Springfield, Mo., five bass, 13-12, $1,000
4th: Kyle King, St. Louis, Mo., five bass, 12-12, $700
5th: Aaron Lorenz, Branson West, Mo., five bass, 12-5, $600
6th: Adler Odle, Willow Springs, Mo., three bass, 11-7, $550
7th: Matthew Newman, Jasper, Mo., four bass, 10-11, $500
8th: Terence Booth, Ozark, Mo., four bass, 10-10, $450
9th: Joshua Karpowecz, Hermann, Mo., four bass, 10-2, $400
10th: Brian Huber, Saint Charles, Mo., four bass, 10-0, $350
Short also earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $500, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 9 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. 5-7 BFL Regional tournament on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Oklahoma. 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.