ZWOLLE, La. – Boater Daniel Bryant of Scott, Louisiana, caught a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 10 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Toledo Bend. The tournament was the third event of 2023 for the BFL Cowboy Division. Bryant earned $4,509 for his victory.
“When my boat number was called and I left the launch, I didn’t know which way I was going to head – north or south,” said Bryant. “The night before the tournament I had rigged up for both north and south situations that I fished in practice. When it came time to turn the boat, something told me to go north.”
Bryant said he picked an area and started the day with a 2¾-pound fish and knew he had made the right decision. He stayed in a half-mile stretch of Toledo Bend on a hard grass line in 8 feet of water and used a vibrating jig to catch his bass.
“You’d get it up to the edge of the grass, and when it hit the grass you’d pop it free, and that’s when they would it eat it,” Bryant said. “I kept that bait in my hands all day.”
Bryant said he relied on gut instinct to tell him when and where to move the boat when the active bite slowed down, and he kept catching fish as they reloaded in his areas. Bryant said he and his co-angler caught more than 50 fish during the course of the tournament.
“This feels amazing,” said Bryant. “A lot of people this time of year focus on sight-fishing, so the weights can be lower. And it’s not that the fishery is bad; It’s just people get hung up on trying to sight-fish for the bass. They’ll spend two or three hours on fish that aren’t ready to bite yet. I told myself I wasn’t going to get sucked into that. I wanted to target pre-spawn fish.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Daniel Bryant, Scott, La., five bass, 22-10, $4,509
2nd: Tater Reynolds, Florien, La., five bass, 18-11, $1,897
3rd: Kristopher Pickett, Coushatta, La., five bass, 18-6, $1,265
4th: Trent Manuel, Iowa, La., five bass, 18-1, $885
5th: Ernie Hillebrandt, Lafayette, La., five bass, 17-3, $759
6th: Dominick Whatley, Colfax, La., five bass, 15-12, $696
7th: Sieg Kilby, Kilgore, Texas, five bass, 14-11, $632
8th: Jon Despino, Colfax, La., five bass, 14-9, $569
9th: John Ellender, Lake Charles, La., five bass, 14-5, $506
10th: Calvin Bogan, Livingston, Texas, five bass, 13-14, $443
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Bryant also caught a largemouth that weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $495.
Tim Hawkins of Anna, Texas, won the Strike King co-angler division and$1,897 Saturday, after crossing the stage with five bass weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Tim Hawkins, Anna, Texas, five bass, 13-11, $1,897
2nd: Nick Stanislaus, Porter, Texas, five bass, 13-10, $1,149
3rd: Tyrell Harmon, Manor, Texas, five bass, 12-6, $633
4th: Korby Friday, Elizabeth, La., five bass, 12-3, $443
5th: J.J. Matzke, League City, Texas, five bass, 12-1, $379
6th: Greg Boik, College Station, Texas, five bass, 12-0, $348
7th: Michael Mooney, Diana, Texas, five bass, 11-15, $316
8th: Braden Berryman, Kirbyville, Texas, five bass, 11-3, $285
9th: Gary Medley, Vidor, Texas, five bass, 10-11, $253
10th: Velin Sims, Spring, Texas, three bass, 10-7, $468
Velin Sims of Spring, Texas, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $247, catching a largemouth that weighed in at 5 pounds, 13 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After three events, Tater Reynolds of Florien, Louisiana, leads the BFL Cowboy Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 712 points, while J.J. Matzke of League City, Texas, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 730 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 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.