'Fishing karma' helps Victor's Smith post win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Cayuga Lake - Major League Fishing
‘Fishing karma’ helps Victor’s Smith post win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Cayuga Lake
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‘Fishing karma’ helps Victor’s Smith post win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Cayuga Lake

Vermont’s Wilkie tops Strike King co-angler division
Image for ‘Fishing karma’ helps Victor’s Smith post win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Cayuga Lake
Boater Casey Smith of Victor, New York, and Strike-King co-angler Aaron Wilkie of North Bennington, Vermont.
August 21, 2023 • MLF • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. – Boater Casey Smith of Victor, New York, caught a five-bass limit weighing 23 pounds, 11 ounces, Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine event on Cayuga Lake. The tournament was the fourth event of the season for the BFL Northeast Division. Smith earned $4,466 for his victory.

“It was fair day, but a bit of a struggle,” said Smith, who considers Cayuga Lake his home water. “We had a big weather change come through on Friday, and I didn’t practice because I knew the weather was going to change things up. I just fished the conditions and used my knowledge of Cayuga and pieced things together as the day went on.

“I fished typical Cayuga stuff mid-lake,” Smith went on to say. “Grass lines and isolated patches of grass was where I was looking. My baits were standard Cayuga fare as well – a Yamamoto Senko, drop-shot rig, and a crankbait. I bounced around in depths of 10 to 17 feet.”

Smith said he caught about 40 bass during the course of the day – all keepers.

“I had five big bites out of those 40 keepers, and that was a result of the weather,” Smith said. “When the weather came through Friday, it was the biggest cold front we’d had the whole summer. We had a lot of wind out of the north-northwest for the tournament, and what that does at Cayuga is knock the average size of the fish back. I just knew if I just kept swinging the hammer that eventually I’d catch a good one, and that’s what happened. You play the numbers game and set the hook enough, there’s enough big fish in that lake that you’ll catch five big ones.”

Smith said he knew he had about 23 pounds at the end of the day, but he said that no weight is safe on Cayuga heading into weigh-in. He said he figured even 25 to 26 pounds wasn’t a safe bet at the scales. However, Smith won a BFL at Cayuga in August of 2021 with a weight of 22-13.

“You just don’t know,” Smith said. “Any day it could take 25, 26, or 27 pounds to win.

“This feels really good,” Smith added. “It’s my home lake, I grew up there, got married on the lake, all of my family is on that lake, so this is really special. I’ve been working with a group of guys closely with the state and local legislators on the grass there, and I kind of feel like the win was a bit of fishing karma – taking care of the lake and helping protect it, and the lake paid me back.”

The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

  • 1st:          Casey Smith, Victor, N.Y., five bass, 23-11, $4,466
  • 2nd:        Michael Morrin, Waterloo, N.Y., five bass, 22-8, $1,733
  • 3rd:        Kyle Gelles, Pingree, Idaho, five bass, 22-5, $2,090 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
  • 4th:         Alex Korol, Fairport, N.Y., five bass, 22-4, $809
  • 5th:         Jaden Parrish, Liberty, Texas, five bass, 21-6, $693
  • 6th:         Alec Morrison, Peru, N.Y., five bass, 21-3, $635
  • 7th:         Christopher Sperling, Cato, N.Y., five bass, 20-12, $578
  • 8th:         Justin Kubilus, North Abington Township, Pa., five bass, 20-6, $520
  • 9th:         David Keppler, Williamstown, N.J., five bass, 19-13, $462
  • 10th:      Joseph Thompson, Coatesville, Pa., five bass, 17-15, $404

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Kyle Gelles of Pingree, Idaho, caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $435.

Aaron Wilkie of North Bennington, Vermont, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,483 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 16 pounds, 14 ounces.

The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

  • 1st:          Aaron Wilkie, North Bennington, Vt., five bass, 16-14, $2,483
  • 2nd:        Josh Kauffman, Marysville, Pa., five bass, 16-10, $866
  • 3rd:        Jesse Jodon, Windber, Pa., five bass, 15-12, $577
  • 4th:         Louis Falvo, Seneca Falls, N.Y., five bass, 14-14, $404
  • 5th:         Chad Dorney, Slatington, Pa., four bass, 14-9, $347
  • 6th:         Alexandre Jelev, Petawawa, Ontario, five bass, 13-0, $318
  • 7th:         Jimmy Papineau, Staatsburg, N.Y., three bass, 12-14, $289
  • 8th:         Cory Germano, Staatsburg, N.Y., five bass, 12-11, $260
  • 9th:         John Snyder, Nazareth, Pa., five bass, 12-8, $231
  • 10th:      Chris Siclare, Geneva, N.Y., four bass, 11-15, $202

David Cooper of Rushville, New York, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $217, catching a bass that weighed in at 6 pounds, 1 ounce – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After four events, Alex Korol of Fairport, New York, leads the BFL Northeast Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 939 points, while Ethan Lee of Jermyn, Pennsylvania, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 928 points.

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. 5-7 BFL Regional tournament on the Potomac River in Marbury, Maryland. 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.