LEESBURG, Fla. – Boater Laramy Strickland of Bushnell, Florida, caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds, 1 ounce, Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on the Harris Chain of Lakes. Hosted by Discover Lake County Florida, the tournament was the first event of the season for the BFL Gator Division. Strickland earned $4,806 for his victory.
The weather in the Leesburg area had been consistently rainy and cold for weeks before the event, and Strickland said he keyed in on a pattern he had noticed for the event.
“I think those fish are pre-spawn, and they were just ganging up on a spot wanting to spawn and not being able to,” Strickland said.
“I had three specific clumps of hydrilla I had located some nicer quality fish on,” added Strickland, who said he lives 30 minutes from the lake but hadn’t fished there since 2022. “I kept my head down and grinded a 50-yard stretch all day long.”
Strickland said he relied exclusively on a ½-ounce Z-Man Evergreen ChatterBait Jack Hammer to fill his limit during the tournament. He said he caught around 30 bass – all keepers – during the day.
Strickland said he did make one run about a mile away from his hydrilla spots, and his first cast there resulted in a 5-pounder, but he soon returned to the hydrilla where he would cull fish for the rest of the day.
“This really feels great,” Strickland said. “I feel blessed to have had a really great day on the water. I’m looking forward to fishing the rest of the events in the Gator Division.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Tyler Sheppard of Yulee, Florida, caught a bass that weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $725.
James Brooks of Inverness, Florida, won the Strike King co-angler division and $2,403 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 15 pounds, 15 ounces.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:
Tyler Nekolny of Coral Springs, Florida, and Brad Moore of Cape Coral, Florida, both caught bass weighing in at 7 pounds, 7 ounces – the largest co-angler catches of the day – to split the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $362.
The next event for BFL Gator Division anglers will be held Feb. 10, at Lake Toho in Kissimmee, Florida. 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 division based on point standings, along with the five tournament winners of each qualifying event, will qualify for the Oct. 10-12 BFL Regional tournament on Santee Cooper Lakes in Clarendon County, South Carolina. 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.