GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Boater Sam Moll of Hershey, Pennsylvania, caught a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 7 ounces, Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Kentucky/Barkley Lakes. The tournament, hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau, was the first event of the season for the BFL LBL Division. Moll’s BFL Boater Division debut win earned him $5,024.
Moll, who also fishes for the Murray State College Fishing team in Murray, Kentucky, said the tournament set up well for him, as the TVA was providing a lot of current. Moll said he likes to fish current at his home waters of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Moll said the Pennsylvania concepts applied to the Kentucky waters for the tournament.
“We pulled up and my co-angler caught a 5-pound largemouth early, and I caught about 17 pounds of smallmouth, and I had a limit within 45 minutes,” Moll said. “We just kept running current breaks all day.
“I caught a bunch of little ones – probably 40 that weighed 2½ to 3 pounds,” Moll said. “I was getting a little nervous, though, because I knew I needed some bigger ones.”
Moll said rain that occurred the day before the tournament played a key role in his win. He said he fished in 5 to 7 feet of water from Moors Resort to Paris, Tennessee, and looked for clear water where bass were more likely to be found. He said he threw an Alabama rig, but switched to his go-to – a swimbait – when he found clear water. Moll said his two biggest fish came on the swimbait with an hour left to finish in the tournament.
“I wasn’t confident with my weight,” Moll said. “I thought I would be in the top three, but I didn’t think I had enough to win. My buddy caught a 7-pounder last week on Kentucky Lake, and I thought that somebody would catch a couple of 4-pounders and then get lucky and catch a real big one, too. So, I was nervous.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
1st: Sam Moll, Hershey, Pa., five bass, 22-7, $5,024
2nd: Stephen Barga, Benton, Ky., five bass, 20-15, $2,512
3rd: Dan Morehead, Paducah, Ky., five bass, 20-7, $1,894
4th: Toby Corn, Paducah, Ky, five bass, 20-4, $1,172
5th: Richard Meuth, Henderson, Ky., five bass, 20-1, $1,005
6th: Marty Sisk, Evansville, Ind., five bass, 19-4, $921
7th: Harbor Lovin, New Concord, Ky., five bass, 18-15, $837
8th: David Young, Mayfield, Ky., five bass, 18-11, $754
9th: Todd Hollowell, Fishers, Ind., five bass, 17-4, $670
10th: Mike Summers, Fisherville, Ky., five bass, 16-8, $586
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Keith Bailey of Simpson, Illinois, caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 3 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $775.
Jesse Ordunez of Gilbertsville, Kentucky, won the Strike King co-angler division and a total of $2,662 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 22 pounds, 1 ounce.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
1st: Jesse Ordunez, Gilbertsville, Ky., five bass, 22-1, $2,662
2nd: Jacob Bovara, Wadsworth, Ill., five bass, 14-5, $1,237
3rd: Gary Huber II, Saint Charles, Mo., four bass, 13-4, $824
4th: Cowboy Tidwell, Madisonville, Ky., five bass, 12-10, $577
5th: Andrew Greene, Pegram, Tenn., five bass, 11-14, $495
6th: Cody Oliver, Kokomo, Ind., five bass, 11-5, $454
7th: Kevin Hancock, Marion, Ky., three bass, 11-2, $600
8th: Robert Burnette, Madisonville, Ky., three bass, 10-7, $571
9th: Jerry North II, Three Way, Tenn., four bass, 10-2, $330
10th: Ronald Franks, Hermitage, Tenn., three bass, 10-1, $289
Jesse Ordunez of Gilbertsville, Kentucky, and Kevin Hancock of Marion, Kentucky, each caught bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 6 ounces to split the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $376.
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: 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.