JASPER, Ala. – Boater Roman Calvert of Jasper, Alabama, caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 9 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lewis Smith Lake. The tournament, hosted by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, was the first event of the season for the BFL Choo Choo Division. Calvert earned $6,000 for his victory.
Calvert, who calls Lewis Smith his home waters, practiced for two days for the tournament but said his practice didn’t really produce the results he expected.
“Normally on Smith, I look for a herring bite offshore,” said Calvert. “The first half day of practice I looked for that bite, and just couldn’t find one. So, I decided to stop in a ditch and throw a swimbait and a shaky-head rig.”
Smith said that approach was unproductive on tournament day, so he relocated to another area he had found in practice. After that area failed to produce, he changed yet again and targeted laydowns with a wakebait.
“Finally, about 9:30 I caught a 5-9 largemouth with the wakebait,” Calvert said. “Then I started running stuff that I was familiar with. Most of it was laydowns, brush piles and docks with brush. Most of it had to do with fishing wood with a jig. I ran that pattern the rest of the day.”
Smith finished out the afternoon targeting fish from Duncan Bridge to the dam, and said he boated a total of seven fish during the day – including two big largemouth and three spotted bass that made up his weigh bag.
“I knew I had more than 17 pounds in the livewell, and I knew that it had been taking 17 to 18 pounds to win the local tournaments,” Calvert said. “I told my co-angler I thought I had enough to win it.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Roman Calvert, Jasper, Ala., five bass, 17-9, $6,000
2nd: Austin Swindle, Parrish, Ala., five bass, 15-15, $3,000
3rd: Mark McCaig, Oxford, Ala., five bass, 15-7, $2,500 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
4th: Scott Wright, Carbon Hill, Ala., five bass, 15-5, $1,400
5th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 15-3, $1,200
6th: Jeremy Hopper, Vinemont, Ala., five bass, 14-15, $1,050
6th: Jordan Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 14-15, $1,050
8th: Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 14-0, $900
9th: Bobby Padgett, Lagrange, Ga., five bass, 13-14, $800
10th: Jennings Earnest, Guin, Ala., five bass, 13-12, $665
10th: Sean Buntin, Cullman, Ala., four bass, 13-12, $665
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Bryan Simmons of Leoma, Tennessee, caught a bass that weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $1,000.
Chase Fernandez of Post Falls, Idaho, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $3,000 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 12 pounds, 9 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Chase Fernandez, Post Falls, Idaho, five bass, 12-9, $3,000
2nd: Alex Singleton, Rome, Ga., five bass, 12-8, $1,500
3rd: Chris Kirksey, Fairmount, Ga., five bass, 11-15, $1,000
4th: Eric Owens, Danville, Ala., five bass, 10-8, $700
5th: Mike Slaughter, Hartselle, Ala., five bass, 10-7, $600
6th: Doug Vaughn, Houston, Ala., five bass, 10-2, $550
7th: Kyle Smith, Crane Hill, Ala.., five bass, 10-1, $500
8th: Rex Henry, Hixson, Tenn., four bass, 9-14, $450
9th: Dennis Sandoval, Decatur, Ala., five bass, 9-11, $950
10th: Mitchell Peterson, Trussville, Ala., five bass, 9-8, $350
Alex Roberts of Franklin, Tennessee, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $500, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 14 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. 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, 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.