Boater Austin Culbertson of Columbia, Missouri, brought a two-day total of eight bass to the scale weighing 25 pounds, 9 ounces to win the no-entry fee Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Wild Card Championship on Lake of the Ozarks presented by Fish-Intel.com. For his victory, Culbertson earned one of the final berths into the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship.
The Wild Card tournament is a last-chance shot at the All-American for Bass Fishing League anglers that didn’t qualify for a Regional Championship.
“This is incredible,” says Culbertson. “I wasn’t able to practice, but luckily I’m from the area so I was able to get on the water and just adjust to what the fish were doing.
“I caught my first fish on a Zara Spook and it was a 5-pounder so it was a great start. I continued to chase that bite for several hours before switching to a jig and catching my three other keepers. I tried to find that fifth keeper from 9:30 a.m. on, with no luck. I finished the first day with only four fish at 13 pounds even.”
Culbertson says he started day two right back where he caught the 5-pounder.
“I was thinking the topwater bite would be better on day two due to the weather, but I chased it for more than two hours with only one bite. Around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday I caught my first keeper on a jerkbait.
“I noticed the fish had moved up off the bottom and were more suspended, so I made a slight adjustment,” continues Culbertson. “I found a good cove and was able to secure two more keepers on the jerkbait.”
Culbertson says he spent the rest of the day looking for the last two fish he needed to get his limit.
“Right at the end of the day, I ran to a spot where I’d had success with big fish in the past, but hadn’t fished all week. I fished the jerkbait along a bluff wall, and caught close to a 5-pound largemouth. I fought it for three or four minutes around the boat and got it in with just enough time to throw a few more casts before running back for the weigh-in.”
Culbertson came in to the weigh-in with only four fish again on the final day.
“I was around the right ones, just not enough of them, but it turned out to be enough for the win,” says Culbertson.
The top six boaters that qualified for 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American:
1st: Austin Culbertson of Columbia, Mo., eight bass, 25-9
2nd: Kyle Kitts of Joplin, Mo., 10 bass, 21-1
3rd: Harmon Davis of Marlow, Okla., seven bass, 20-9
4th: Joey Schmidt of Hickory, Ky., 10 bass, 20-6
5th: Garrett Johnson of Indianapolis, Ind., six bass, 20-2
6th: Richie Marsh of Excelsior Springs, Mo., seven bass, 19-15
Rounding out the top 10 boaters:
7th: Mick Fenn of Grove, Okla., six bass, 18-14
8th: Kevin Bishop of Ashland, Ky., eight bass, 18-10
9th: Jim Eakin of Clarksville, Tenn., six bass, 18-9
10th: Chris Gable of Hopkinsville, Ky., eight bass, 18-8
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Boater Brent Barnes of Chattanooga, Tennessee, weighed the heaviest bass of the tournament Friday – a 6-pound, 10-ouncer – that won the day’s Boater Big Bass Award of $225.
Kitts took home an extra $500 as the highest finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member. 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 PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Long wins co-angler award
Raymie Long of Stanford, Kentucky, weighed in a two-day total of eight bass weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces to win the Co-angler Wild Card Championship and advance to the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.
The top six co-anglers that qualified for the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American:
1st: Raymie Long of Stanford, Ky., eight bass, 11-11
2nd: Zach Barnes of Chickamauga, Ga., six bass, 11-4
3rd: Cotton Snodgrass of Norman, Okla., seven bass, 11-3
4th: Bryan Schuster of Oklahoma City, Okla., five bass, 11-0
5th: Jeff Cave of Mount Juliet, Tenn., four bass, 10-5
6th: Chris Gebhardt of Columbia, Mo., five bass, 9-11
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers:
7th: Robert Holliday of Greensboro, Ga., five bass, 9-4
8th: Jim McLaughlin of Vinita, Okla., four bass, 8-13
9th: Larry Chadwick of Phenix City, Ala., four bass, 8-11
10th: Joe Tucker of Osceola, Mo., four bass, 8-9
The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Wild Card tournament on Lake of the Ozarks was hosted by Fish-Intel.com.