Jeffrey Mahaffey of Bristol, Tennessee, brought five bass to the scale Saturday weighing 20 pounds, 10 ounces, to win the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Volunteer Division opener on Watts Bar Lake presented by Navionics. Mahaffey earned $3,164 for his catch.
“I targeted isolated laydowns mid-lake. The area near takeoff at Tom Fuller Park was especially productive for me – I caught two over 5 pounds there,” says Mahaffey, who earned his first career win in FLW competition. “I primarily ran shallow cover off the bank, but capitalized on the deeper stuff that was maybe 50 to 75 yards off of the bank, if I saw it. I probably hit around 25 pockets, but targeted just a handful of trees – many only had one tree in them.”
Mahaffey says he leaned on two custom baits from Jerry’s Bait Shop in Rockwood to put together his limit – a ½-ounce and a ¾-ounce double-willow spinnerbait with white and blue coloring, each with a chartreuse Zoom Split Tail trailer.
“The shallower bites came from 6 to 8 feet down. You had to fish the ends of the trees – when the spinnerbait kind of came out of the tree and fell off the end, that’s when you’d get a bite,” says Mahaffey. “The deeper cover off the bank behind me was in 8 to 10 feet of water. That’s when I’d switch to the ¾-ounce [spinnerbait] and really let it sink down and get to the base.”
Mahaffey ended up catching 10 keepers throughout the day.
“Both of these patterns were fishing extremely slow – you really had to slow roll the spinnerbaits to get a bite,” says Mahaffey.
The top 10 boaters:
1st: Jeffrey Mahaffey, Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 20-10, $3,164
2nd: Jonathan Bowling, Harriman, Tenn., five bass, 17-10, $1,782
3rd: Nick Huff, Bean Station, Tenn., five bass, 17-7, $1,154
4th: Matt Linton, Kingston, Tenn., five bass, 17-4, $738
5th: Jason Sosebee, Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 17-3, $633
6th: Brad Mattie, Oak Ridge, Tenn., five bass, 17-2, $580
7th: Chase Henley, Kingston, Tenn., five bass, 16-14, $527
8th: Jeff Knight, Cleveland, Tenn., five bass, 16-10, $855
9th: Tim Wyatt, Crossville, Tenn., five bass, 16-8, $422
10th: Tyler Meredith, Oliver Springs, Tenn., five bass, 16-4, $369
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Knight caught a 5-pound, 13-ounce bass – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – and earned the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $380.
Coker wins co-angler title
Nick Coker of Knoxville, Tennessee, won the Co-angler Division and $1,782 Saturday after catching five bass weighing 18 pounds, 3 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers:
1st: Nick Coker, Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 18-3, $1,782
2nd: Chris Harness, Powell, Tenn., four bass, 13-0, $791
3rd: Ryan Helke, Knoxville, Tenn., three bass, 12-13, $447
3rd: David Osborne, Honaker, Va., four bass, 12-13, $447
5th: Dennis Lewis, Powell, Tenn., five bass, 11-11, $316
6th: David Blakely, Kingsport, Tenn., three bass, 11-9, $340
7th: Nick Ogle, Lenoir City, Tenn., four bass, 11-5, $264
8th: Larry Brumett Jr., Seymour, Tenn., three bass, 10-1, $237
9th: Brandon Harris, Spring City, Tenn., four bass, 9-8, $211
10th: Robert Davis, Bethalto, Ill., three bass, 8-12, $185
Brian Miller of Calhoun, Georgia, caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 5 pounds, 10 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $190.
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. 10-12 BFL Regional Championship on Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina, presented by Navionics. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard and $20,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518L with a 200-horsepower outboard.
The 2019 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 2019 BFL All-American will be held May 30-June 1 at the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland, and is hosted by the Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks and Tourism and the Commissioners of Charles County. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.