Shad Spawn Carries Kelly - Major League Fishing

Shad Spawn Carries Kelly

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Austin wins Volunteer Division event on South Holston
June 1, 2020 • MLF • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Boater Danger Kelly of Somerset, Kentucky, brought five bass to the scale Saturday totaling 14 pounds, 14 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event on South Holston Reservoir in Bristol, Tennessee. For his victory, Kelly earned a total of $3,021.

“I took a huge gamble and put all of my eggs into one basket – the shad spawn,” says Kelly, who earned the first victory of his FLW career. “It was an all or nothing deal, because all of my fishing time was going to be from 6:45 a.m. to 8 a.m. As soon as the sun was out the shad spawn would die, and my pattern was done.

“I targeted bass on the main-lake that were located on laydowns and submerged timber near the flooded bushes and trees along the shoreline,” Kelly continues. “It was extremely difficult casts – I had to get my lures back behind the rocks, behind bushes and under low-hanging branches. I couldn’t get a clean hookset. I knew it was going to be tough. I lost six fish, but I managed to put five nice smallmouth in the boat.”

Kelly’s bait of choice was a Strike King swim jig (Chartreuse Sexy Shad) with a Strike King Rage Swimmer swimbait (Pearl Flash).

“I ended up catching one or two more during the day, but I never culled. The five that I caught in the morning were the five that I brought to the scale,” Kelly goes on to say. “I knew that committing to the shad spawn was going to be a huge gamble and I was either going to win or take dead last. I’m thankful that I had a great day and caught enough early to get the win.”


The top 10 boaters:

 1st: Danger Kelly of Somerset, Ky., five bass, 14-14, $3,021

 2nd: Corey Neece of Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 13-14, $2,011

 3rd: Jaime Ratliff of Abingdon, Va., five bass, 13-9, $1,007

 4th: Eddie Richards of Corbin, Ky., five bass, 13-8, $705

 5th: Craig Powers of Rockwood, Tenn., five bass, 13-3, $604

 6th: Bryan Leonard of Blountville, Tenn., five bass, 12-15, $554

 7th: Jeffrey Mahaffey of Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 12-14, $504

 8th: Jerry Gallogly of North Tazewell, Va., five bass, 12-6, $453

 9th: Brandon Stanley of Johnson City, Tenn., five bass, 11-14, $403

 10th: Ken Vicchio of Bluff City, Tenn., five bass, 11-13, $352

Complete results can be found at

Tyler Altizer of Abingdon, Virginia, brought a 4-pound, 8-ounce bass to the scale to win the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $345.

Neece was the highest-finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member and took home an extra $500. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $7,000 per event in each Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency program can be found at


Austin wins co-angler title

Will Austin of Abingdon, Virginia, won the Co-angler Division and $1,683 Saturday after catching four bass weighing 11 pounds, 7 ounces.


The top 10 co-anglers:

 1st: Will Austin of Abingdon, Va., four bass, 11-7, $1,683

 2nd: Henry Bryan of Sevierville, Tenn., four bass, 10-14, $755

 3rd: Joshua Jernigan of Rocky Top, Tenn., five bass, 10-4, $504

 4th: Dennis Lane of Rutledge, Tenn., four bass, 9-6, $352

 5th: Fletcher Griffith of Hendersonville, N.C., four bass, 9-0, $302

 6th: Jim Thrift of Kingsport, Tenn., four bass, 8-15, $277

 7th: Justin McGaha of Knoxville, Tenn., four bass, 7-13, $252

 8th: Ben Arnold of La Follette, Tenn., three bass, 7-0, $227

 9th: Jacob Linkous of Rogersville, Tenn., three bass, 6-14, $201

 10th: Curtis Brown of Loudon, Tenn., two bass, 6-4, $167

 10th: Chris Hamby of Harriman, Tenn., three bass, 6-4, $167

Austin also caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, weighing in at 4 pounds, 1 ounce. The catch added to his winnings as he earned the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $172.


The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on South Holston Reservoir was the second of five qualifying events in the Volunteer Division.


The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the Volunteer Division based on point standings, along with the five winners of each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 8-10 Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on the James River in Richmond, Virginia, hosted by Richmond Region Tourism. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new 18-foot Phoenix bass boat with a 200-horsepower outboard.