Ryan Salzman of Huntsville, Alabama, caught a five-bass limit weighing 25 pounds, 9 ounces, Saturday to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Choo Choo Division event on Wheeler Lake. Salzman earned $5,810 for his win.
Salzman made a 72-mile run up the Tennessee River to fish the Guntersville Dam tailrace. He says his day started slow, but eventually got rolling around 9 a.m. From there, he caught the majority of his weight within 20 minutes.
“I didn’t get a lot of time to practice and it was the only thing I felt comfortable doing,” says Salzman, who earned his third career win in BFL competition. “I figured I’d be one of the only ones to make the long run, especially with the wind blowing.”
Salzman says he fished isolated rockpiles in the current. He targeted smallmouths using 4½-inch green bean- and 99 problems-colored True Bass Little Head swimbaits with ½-ounce True Lock Swimbait Heads.
By 11 a.m., Salzman says his cranking battery began to die, so he made the decision to return to the ramp early. Fortunately, with the long run, his battery recharged to the point to where he could fish the final two hours of the day.
“I flipped marina slips with a ½-ounce Pickwick special-colored Tight Line Jigs Mussel Crawler jig and Strike King Rage Craw trailer,” says Salzman. “I ended up culling twice with 4- and 5-pound largemouth.”
The top 10 boaters
1st: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 25-9, $5,810
2nd: Mitch Mitchell, Muscle Shoals, Ala., five bass, 21-12, $2,405
3rd: Cameron Trousdale, Rogersville, Ala., five bass, 18-0, $1,536
4th: Michael Hood, Winchester, Tenn., five bass, 16-10, $1,076
5th: Greg Lamb, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 16-1, $1,257
6th: Daniel Whitaker, Phil Campbell, Ala., five bass, 15-12, $845
7th: Gavin Ainslie, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 15-5, $768
8th: Eddie Jewell, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., five bass, 15-4, $1,026
9th: Kenny Everette, Villa Rica, Ga., five bass, 15-1, $615
10th: Mike Ary, Dalton, Ga., five bass, 14-11, $838
Lamb weighed a 7-pound bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $335.
Peyton takes co-angler title
Harry Peyton of Decatur, Alabama, won the Co-angler Division and $2,370 Saturday after catching five bass weighing 17 pounds, 2 ounces.
Top 10 co-anglers
1st: Harry Peyton, Decatur, Ala., five bass, 17-2, $2,370
2nd: Chris Harcrow, Dawson, Al a., five bass, 13-14, $1,185
3rd: Chris Keel, Hampton Cove, Ala.., five bass, 12-14, $757
4th: Rich Frey, Owens Cross Roads, Ala., three bass, 11-12, $822
4th: Brian Warfel, Woodbridge, Va., five bass, 11-12, $492
6th: Aaron Bishop, Hamilton, Al a., three bass, 10-14, $416
7th: Bruce Stanley, Jasper, Ala., four bass, 10-13, $378
8th: Steven Jacques, Addison, Ala., five bass, 10-12, $341
9th: Daniel Kendrick, Chatsworth, Ga., five bass, 10-9, $303
10th: Daniel Douglas, Meridianville, Ala., five bass, 10-8, $265
Frey caught the largest bass in the co-angler division weighing in at 8 pounds even. The catch earned him the day’s co-angler big bass award of $330.
The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five winners in each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 25-27 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.
The 2018 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six 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 2018 BFL All-American will be held May 31-June 2 at Cross Lake in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is hosted by the Shreveport-Bossier Sports Commission. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.