LA CROSSE, Wis. – Boater Cade Laufenberg of Onalaska, Wisconsin, caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 2 ounces, Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on the Mississippi River at La Crosse. The tournament, hosted by Explore La Crosse, was the first event of the season for the BFL Great Lakes Division. Laufenberg earned $13,298, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.
“In practice, I clued in on the smallmouth that had finished spawning and were starting to pull out,” Laufenberg said. “They were really finicky, so I had to fish super slow and a little deeper than what most people were fishing. I committed to fishing for those smallmouth.”
Laufenberg said he fished 10- to 20-yard stretches for a half an hour to 45 minutes each with a light Texas rig for a quality bite. The stretches consisted of mostly sand bottom with a little bit of wood. To entice wary smallmouth, Laufenberg said he used a 1/8-ounce weight with a green pumpkin Strike King Rage Bug. His approach paid off with 15 keepers during the course of the day.
“This is my 10th win with Major League Fishing, and it feels really good,” Laufenberg said. “I’m really happy to have that milestone. The Phoenix Contingency money has been amazing to me.
“And to add another Top-10 finish to my résumé and to be leading the points … I couldn’t be happier,” Laufenberg said.
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Cade Laufenberg, Onalaska, Wis., five bass, 20-2, $13,298 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd: Kevin Ruh, Onalaska, Wis., five bass, 18-3, $2,309
3rd: Justin Drljaca, Cape Coral, Fla., five bass, 17-14, $1,539
4th: Clayton Reitz, Morton, Ill., five bass, 16-13, $1,078
5th: Dan Mohn, Lansing, Iowa, five bass, 16-4, $1,644
6th: Nick Trim, Galesville, Wis., five bass, 16-3, $847
7th: Josh Fitzgerald, La Crosse, Wis., five bass, 15-9, $770
8th: Brandon Gann, Sparta, Wis., five bass, 15-6, $693
9th: Austin Brimeyer, Dubuque, Iowa, five bass, 15-2, $616
10th: Curtis Samo, Rochelle, Ill., five bass, 15-0, $762
10th: Mike Brueggen, La Crosse, Wis., five bass, 15-0, $512
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Laufenberg also caught a bass weighing 4 pounds, 10 ounces to earn the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $680.
Richard Conrad of Arcadia, Wisconsin, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $3,055 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 14 pounds, 13 ounces.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Richard Conrad, Arcadia, Wis., five bass, 14-13, $3,055
2nd: Nick Kramersmeier, Johnston, Iowa, five bass, 13-2, $1,152
3rd: Thad Vettrus, Chippewa Falls, Wis., five bass, 12-6, $768
4th: Thad Krippendorf, Stockton, Ill., five bass, 12-4, $538
5th: Hertz Skaer, Holmen, Wis., five bass, 12-2, $461
6th: C.J. Reitz, Morton, Ill., five bass, 12-1, $758
7th: Justin Oppegard, Eagan, Minn., five bass, 11-13, $365
7th: Matthew Tinsman, Peoria, Ill., five bass, 11-13, $365
9th: Timothy Wittren, Ontario, Wis., five bass, 11-10, $307
10th: Ron Mairet, Columbus Junction, Iowa, five bass, 11-7, $269
C.J. Reitz of Morton, Illinois, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $335, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 15 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.
After the first event, Cade Laufenberg of Onalaska, Wisconsin, leads the BFL Great Lakes Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 250 points, while Richard Conrad of Arcadia, Wisconsin, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 250 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. 19-21 BFL Regional tournament on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. 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: 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.