SENECA, S.C. – Boater Max Heaton of Hartwell, Georgia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 13 ounces, Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Hartwell. The tournament, hosted by Visit Oconee, was the third event of the season for the BFL Savannah River Division. Heaton earned $4,037 for his victory.
“I had a pretty good practice, even though it poured rain on me,” said Heaton. “I caught 17½ pounds just messing around on some new stuff to fish.
“Tournament day started off pretty slow, but there was a good bite window between 8 and 11 o’clock,” Heaton added. “That’s when I caught everything I weighed in. I never culled a fish after 11 o’clock.”
Heaton said he stayed near Anderson Island and his first five bass weighed 13 pounds. He said he culled up a few times after that to get his final weigh weight. He added that he targeted bass on points and used his Garmin LiveScope System to deliver his shaky-head rig with accuracy to the fish.
“I was very surprised with this win,” Heaton said. “It’s been taking more weight than this to win around here. But I knew it was going to be tougher today on everybody. I didn’t think I was going to pull off the win with what I weighed in, but I’ve got the hardware in the front seat with me right now, so this feels great.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Max Heaton, Hartwell, Ga., five bass, 18-13, $4,037
2nd: Bo Price, Seneca, S.C., five bass, 18-1, $2,564
3rd: Paul Marks, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 17-13, $1,845 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
4th: Tab Anderson, Pendleton, S.C., five bass, 17-2, $1,192
5th: Jaxson Pace, Canton, N.C., five bass, 16-15, $807
6th: Joe Anders, Easley, S.C., five bass, 16-8, $740
7th: Aspen Martin, White, Ga., five bass, 16-6, $673
8th: Bradley Day, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 16-3, $606
9th: Andrew Allen, Waterloo, S.C., five bass, 15-15, $538
10th: Grayson Cook, Canton, N.C., five bass, 15-13, $471
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Bo Price of Seneca, South Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $545.
Damon Phillips of Anderson, South Carolina, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,019 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 15 pounds, 14 ounces.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Damon Phillips, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 15-14, $2,019
2nd: Benjie Winkler, Cleveland, Ga.., five bass, 14-5, $1,009
3rd: Gavin Ballew, Travelers Rest, S.C., five bass, 12-6, $675
4th: Corey Veal, Royston, Ga., five bass, 12-4, $471
5th: Chris Wilson, Easley, S.C., five bass, 12-2, $604
6th: Scott Williams, Canton, Ga., five bass, 12-1, $570
7th: Dwayne Parton, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 11-10, $336
8th: Kevin Henderson, Honea Path, S.C., five bass, 11-9, $303
9th: Johnny Hancox, West Union, S.C., five bass, 11-7, $269
10th: Michael Miller, Greenville, S.C., five bass, 11-6, $223
10th: Brian Egan, Atlanta, Ga., five bass, 11-6, $223
Casey English of Demorest, Georgia, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $272, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds even – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After three events, Paul Marks of Cumming, Georgia, leads the BFL Savannah River Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 742 points, while Michael Miller of Greenville, South Carolina, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 733 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. 12-14 BFL Regional tournament on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. 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. The 2023 All-American event will take place May 31 through June 2, on Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina. The event is hosted by Visit Oconee SC.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 4WP, 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, 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.