SENECA, S.C. – Boater Emil Wagner of Marietta, Georgia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds even – 1 ounce shy of 3 pounds more than second place – Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine event on Lake Keowee. The tournament, hosted by Visit Oconee, was the first event of the season for the BFL Savannah River Division. Wagner earned $12,455, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.
“I started the day mid-lake and caught one really big one, then it went into a bit of a lull,” Wagner said. “At 10 o’clock I caught a 5-(pound) 9-(ounce) spot and then continued to work my way up and down the lake and hit as many sweet spots – roadbeds and stuff that I had marked – as I could.”
Wagner said the majority of his fish fell for a worm and a swimbait fished in 25 to 30 feet of water. He said he caught around 25 bass during the course of the day – 20 of them keepers.
“There were some really big schools in the ditches,” Wagner said. “Anything that had a point and a ditch or deep water next to it was good. I had a few brush piles, but they didn’t really play into my day that much.
“I caught my two biggest by 10 o’clock, then kept culling until my other fish were 2½-pounders,” Wagner said. “I knew I had close to 18 pounds and a shot to win. I finished second there three times last year, and I was really starting to doubt if I could win or not, so this feels really good.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Emil Wagner, Marietta, Ga., five bass, 18-0, $12,455 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd: Jason Burroughs, Hodges, S.C., four bass, 15-1, $3,068
3rd: Joe Eubanks, Marietta, Ga., five bass, 13-12, $1,176
3rd: Alan Poston, Travelers Rest, S.C., five bass, 13-12, $1,176
5th: Greg Glouse, Liberty, S.C., five bass, 13-11, $1,081
6th: Paul Marks, Cumming, Ga., five bass, 13-9, $762
7th: Lane Clark, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 13-6, $693
8th: Darren Ashley, Calhoun Falls, S.C., five bass, 13-2, $623
9th: B.J. Ballard, Abbeville, S.C., five bass, 13-1, $554
10th: Andrew Allen, Waterloo, S.C., five bass, 13-0, $485
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Burroughs caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces, the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $570.
Caleb Warrington of Watkinsville, Georgia, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,064 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 10 pounds, 2 ounces.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Caleb Warrington, Watkinsville, Ga., five bass, 10-2, $2,064
2nd: Trey Paul, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 9-11, $1,032
3rd: Michael Miller, Greenville, S.C., five bass, 8-7, $688
4th: Robin Willey, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 7-15, $482
5th: William Bensel, Abbeville, S.C., four bass, 7-14, $413
6th: Michael Huntley, Inman, S.C., five bass, 7-12, $378
7th: Orion Hunt, Asheville, N.C., four bass, 7-10, $344
8th: Mark Garrett, Walhalla, S.C., five bass, 7-9, $310
9th: Larry Ivester, Seneca, S.C., five bass, 7-8, $275
10th: Brent Thomas, Cleveland, Ga., three bass, 7-3, $229
10th: Eric McClure, Cleveland, Ga., five bass, 7-3, $229
Scott Gerbers of Blackstock, South Carolina, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $287, catching a bass that weighed in at 3 pounds, 12 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
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.