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White Lake’s Hellebuyck Targets Topwater Smallmouth, Claims Victory At Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event At The Detroit River Clarkston’s Beach Wins Strike King Co-Angler Division

Trenton, Mich. – Boater Chris Hellebuyck of White Lake, Michigan, caught a five-bass limit weighing 23 pounds, 3 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on the Detroit River . The tournament was the first event of the season for the BFL Michigan Division. Hellebuyck earned $13,795, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

“I made a good, long run across Lake St. Clair today, and ran up into the St. Clair River,” said Hellebuyck, who earned his second career victory. “I got to my first spot where I had caught a couple of fish in practice, and when I got there, they were biting but it wasn’t that great. We caught a fair number of smaller fish, and then I started throwing a popper and caught a real big one right off the bat. I thought, ‘There’s got to be something to that.’ I kept throwing the popper, and it turned into one of those special days.”

Hellebuyck said he decided on a perch-imitating Booyah Boss Pop Popper after he saw alewife busting the surface on shallow river flats in eight feet of water.

“You’d see the alewife come flying out of the water, then you’d see a big brown bass fly after it,” Hellebuyck said. “We knew they were feeding, and you’d throw the popper over there and almost always catch those fish. But a lot of times just a slow retrieve with the popper worked. The bass would just blow up on it on the pause.

“I had a couple of other places in that area, and I ran over and hit those and caught a couple of big ones here and there,” Hellebuyck added. “It was a short fishing day after such a long run – I only had probably 3½ hours total of fishing time. Then I had to make my way back.”

Hellebuyck, who won his first BFL event on the Detroit River in 2021, said managing his weigh fish and managing his time were critical to his tournament win and special day.

“This win feels really good,” Hellebuyck said. “I don’t know why it feels so good to win the second one. The first one was almost just a blur. It was unexpected. It was so cool to win the second one. It was something to really enjoy – just a special day.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st: Chris Hellebuyck, White Lake, Mich., five bass, 23-3, $13,795 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd: Aaron Jagdfeld, Rochester, Mich., five bass, 21-15, $2,288
3rd: Brayden Federer, Adrian, Mich., five bass, 21-8, $1,525
4th: Mike Trombly, Belleville, Mich., five bass, 21-7, $1,068
5th: Elijah Meyers, Fort Wayne, Ind., five bass, 21-6, $1,247
6th: Scott Dobson, Clarkston, Mich., five bass, 20-12, $1,171
7th: Noah Stauffer, Gowen, Mich., five bass, 20-10, $763
8th: Matt Vermilyea, Perrysburg, Ohio, five bass, 20-6, $648
8th: Patrick Goodman, Sturgis, Mich., five bass, 20-6, $648
10th: Scott Cooke, Marengo, Ohio, five bass, 20-3, $534

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Scott Dobson of Clarkston, Michigan, and Elijah Meyers of Fort Wayne, Indiana, both caught bass that weighed 5 pounds, 7 ounces to split the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $664.

Dan Beach of Clarkston, Michigan, won the Strike King co-angler division and $2,288 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 21 pounds, 3 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st: Dan Beach, Clarkston, Mich., five bass, 21-3, $2,288
2nd: Emmanuel Schwartz, Colon, Mich., five bass, 19-5, $1,476
3rd: Chris Kistler, Logansport, Ind., five bass, 18-12, $648
3rd: Cory Yoder, Goshen, Ind., five bass, 18-12, $648
5th: Billy Crider, Jr., Kettering, Ohio, five bass, 18-6, $458
6th: William Gross, Columbia Station, Ohio, five bass, 18-4, $419
7th: Kaleb Parsell, Caro, Mich., five bass, 17-2, $381
8th: Steve Doak, Sylvania, Ohio, five bass, 16-13, $343
9th: Jay Shaffer, Bath, Mich., five bass, 16-11, $305
10th: Garry Collins, Russell Springs, Ky., five bass, 16-9, $267

Emmanuel Schwartz of Colon, Michigan, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $332, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 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 Dale Hollow Lake in Byrdstown, Tennessee. 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.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 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. For regular Bass Fishing League updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF5’s social media outlets at  Facebook,  Instagram, and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing

Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.

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