JUNCTION CITY, Kan. – Kris Bosley was certain he had to catch more than one bass Friday to come from behind and win the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Central Regional.
But as difficult as Milford Lake fished this week, a 3-pound, 14-ounce largemouth on the final day was enough to give the 42-year-old financial advisor a victory in the heart of the Sunflower State.
Bosley finished with a three-day total of nine bass weighing 23-5. He collected a $5,000 cash prize courtesy of Ranger and earned his third trip to the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship.
“I thought I needed at least two fish today to hold off Christian (Gladfelter) for the team lead,” Bosley said, referring to his New Mexico teammate who placed second overall among boaters after catching 10 bass weighing 22-12 in the three-day event.
“But I really wanted to win the whole tournament, and to do that, I thought I’d probably need four fish. I didn’t expect to win with only one fish today, so it’s a real surprise. But still, it’s a really great feeling.”
Bosley lives in Amarillo, Texas, but qualified for the regional through the New Mexico B.A.S.S. Nation. He’ll represent the state again in the Nation Championship on the Ouachita River in Louisiana on Nov. 3-5.
Bosley has qualified for nationals twice before, finishing 34th on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell in 2019 and 23rd on Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas in 2013.
The 3-14 largemouth he caught Friday was the ticket to this year’s championship. He hooked the bass fishing a point near the Milford Lake Dam with a Delta Craw squarebill crankbait on 12-pound line.
“I threw that squarebill between two tree trunks about 6 inches apart,” Bosley said. “It deflected off the tree and, as soon as it did, she immediately jumped all over it. She swallowed it whole.”
Other than one keeper, Bosley struggled to find bites, as did each of the 40 anglers that survived the cut to fish Friday.
“The only other bites I had were six short fish and one drum,” Bosley said, laughing. “The drum was the most fun of the day up until the keeper!”
Milford Lake, which normally produces a solid mix of bass in various stages of the spawn this time of year, was a mystery to every one of the 160 competitors who started the tournament Wednesday. A late-season snowstorm dumped nearly 6 inches of powder in central Kansas overnight on Monday, and it shut down what had been a productive bite in the days leading up to the tournament.
Anglers scattered across the 15,700-acre reservoir to find bites of any sort, but they struggled mightily – 89 of the 160 zeroed on Day 1 and 116 didn’t weigh a fish on Day 2. Nineteen of the 40 that fished Friday didn’t weigh a bass, either.
That unfortunate group included Chris Johnson, a Farmington, Ark., resident who led the regional on Days 1 and 2.
“I couldn’t get anything going today,” Johnson said. “It was a real grind the whole tournament, but I was able to get a few things going on the first two days … But no disappointments. I’m going to nationals.”
Of the 80 competitors in the boater division, Bosley was one of two who caught a limit of five bass on Day 1. That 13-5 haul put him in third place and he jumped to second on Day 2, despite adding only three bass and 6-2 to his weight.
Bosley entered Friday only an ounce behind. Gladfelter jumped ahead of Johnson, too, finishing second and collecting $3,000. Johnson placed third and won $2,000.
Hunter Neuville, an 18-year-old high school student from New Iberia, La., won the co-angler division with a three-day total of four bass that weighed 9-10. Like Bosley, Neuville only needed one bass to earn the win Friday.
“I caught one short fish today and I missed one good one,” Neuville said. “I was fishing with (Gladfelter), and he said, ‘Last cast,’ and that’s when I caught my keeper. It was only 2-5, but this is one of the toughest tournaments I’ve ever fished.”
Neuville won $2,500 courtesy of Yamaha for his co-angler victory.
Sixteen anglers (the top boater and co-angler from each of the eight teams in the regional) qualified for the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in November. The top anglers split a purse of $34,500 this week.
Johnson won a $500 cash prize for having the heaviest bass of the regional, a 7-pounder he caught early on Day 1 that vaulted him into the lead.
Colorado won the team title on Thursday with a two-day total of 34 bass that weighed 84-9. The 20-angler team earned a $5,000 prize courtesy of Ranger with the win. New Mexico finished in second place, and Texas was third, with Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Louisiana rounding out the eight-team field.
The tournament was one of five B.A.S.S. Nation derbies this year leading up to the championship in November.