OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – Boater T.J. Martin of Claremore, Oklahoma, caught a five-bass limit weighing 26 pounds, 2 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lake of the Ozarks . The tournament, hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association, was the second event of the season for the BFL Ozark Division. Martin earned $14,000, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.
“I started out mid-lake fishing piles in 8 to 10 feet of water with an Alabama rig,” said Martin. “The first fish I caught was a 3½-pounder. The second was a 6-10. Then I ended up finishing out my limit before I decided to run again.”
Martin said he culled a few fish after relocating, but decided to go back to the general area where he had filled his limit. He added a 4½-pounder and a 5-pounder and filled out his final weigh bag by 1 p.m.
Martin said he was confident in his weight and wanted to work his way back to weigh-in early, and is glad he did, as he encountered motor problems on his way back during the 35-minute run. He made it to weigh-in with minutes to spare.
Martin, who also competes in Toyota Series events, said he fishes Lake of the Ozarks during the early part of every year.
“Lake of the Ozarks sets up for me a lot like my home lake – Grand Lake,” said Martin. “I spend my winters and springs on Grand; I spend a lot of time there. And Lake of the Ozarks, to me, is just a bigger Grand Lake.
“This feels awesome to win here,” Martin added. “I was in shock when I caught my last 5-pounder and culled a 3-pounder. I couldn’t believe the weight I had. It was unbelievable – truly a blessed day.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: T.J. Martin, Claremore, Okla., five bass, 26-2, $14,000 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd: Joe Wieberg, Freeburg, Mo., five bass, 19-6, $3,000
3rd: Brandon Ackerson, Afton, Okla., five bass, 18-4, $2,000
4th: Tyler Stuart, Fenton, Mo., five bass, 18-3, $1,400
5th: David Brand, Dittmer, Mo., five bass, 18-1, $1,200
6th: Lawson Hibdon, Versailles, Mo., five bass, 17-15, $1,050
6th: Kyle Kitts, Joplin, Mo., five bass, 17-15, $1,050
8th: Kyle Dowdy, Sunrise Beach, Mo., five bass, 16-11, $850
8th: Scott Hill, Fair Grove, Mo., five bass, 16-11, $850
10th: James Dill, Sunrise Beach, Mo., five bass, 16-3, $700
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Jared Mataczynski of Wausau, Wis., caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 11 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $1,000.
Jeremy White of Dittmer, Missouri, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $3,000 Saturday, after bringing three bass to the scale that totaled 13 pounds, 13 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Jeremy White, Dittmer, Mo., three bass, 13-13, $3,000
2nd: Charlie Knight, Lebanon, Mo., four bass, 10-8, $1,250
2nd: Jake Hutton, Cornell, Ill., five bass, 10-8, $1,250
4th: Scott Shinn, Topeka, Kan., three bass, 10-6, $700
5th: Michael Sanderson, Eureka, Mo., three bass, 8-15, $600
6th: Jeff Moss, Oronogo, Mo, three bass, 8-14, $1,100
7th: Brayden Schaben, Westphalia, Mo., three bass, 8-13, $500
8th: Michael Mulberry, Galena, Mo., three bass, 8-11, $450
9th: Charles Coleman, Reeds Spring, Mo., four bass, 8-4, $400
10th: Tim Sisco, Fair Grove, Mo., two bass, 8-0, $850
Tim Sisco of Fair Grove, Missouri, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $500, catching a bass that weighed in at 6 pounds, 1 ounce – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After two events, T.J. Martin of Claremore, Oklahoma, leads the BFL Ozark Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 489 points, while Adler Odle of Willow Springs, Missouri, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 480 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. 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, Mystik Lubricant, 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.