SENECA, S.C. – Boater Brendan Smith of Lavonia, Georgia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 5 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Keowee. Hosted by Visit Oconee, South Carolina, the tournament was the first event of the season for the BFL Savannah River Division. Smith earned $3,514 for his victory.
“I was boat number 89 of 90,” said Smith, who said Keowee had proved to be a difficult fishery for him in the past. “I had found some fish in an area that I thought would be my only opportunity to catch a limit. When I got to that place it was occupied.
“I went about the day fishing a pattern that I thought could work,” Smith said. “It was a pattern that evolved throughout the day. Essentially, I junk fished Lake Keowee from 2 feet to 50 feet. The good Lord shined on me, and I caught some good fish.”
Smith focused on the lower part of Lake Keowee and said his junk fishing approach consisted of a Berkley Stunna Jerkbait 112, which produced his biggest bass of the day, as well as a Zoom Zlinky Stick Worm on a drop-shot rig in 50 feet of water. He said he also caught a few bass on a Keitech Swing Impact FAT 2.8-inch Swimbait in a ditch.
“I had a limit by 9:30 and figured I had 9 or 10 pounds and was pretty happy to have that weight that early in the day,” Smith said. “When I got to 13 pounds, I knew that was a decent catch for Lake Keowee this time of year. I knew when I was culling that 15 pounds would be pretty respectable.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve been through several of these squeakers, and I’m usually on the other end of it,” Smith said. “Did I ever think I had the win? No. I weighed in last and didn’t have a clue that I would win until the fish were weighed.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Jason Burroughs of Hodges, South Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 4 pounds, 9 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $450.
Chris Wilson of Easley, South Carolina, won the Strike King co-angler division and $1,982 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 11 pounds, 10 ounces.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
Wilson earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $225, catching a bass that weighed in at 3 pounds, 13 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
The next event for BFL Savannah River Division anglers will be held Feb. 24, at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, South Carolina. To register for the event as a boater or a co-angler, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com or call 270-252-1000.
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. 3-5 BFL Regional tournament on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee. Boaters will fish for a top award of $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury or Suzuki 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 or Suzuki outboard.
The 2024 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 2024 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, BUBBA, E3, Epic Baits, General Tire, GSM Outdoors, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota 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.