SENECA, S.C. – The boater side of the 40th edition of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine All-American proved to be a nail-biter, but things were just as close on the Strike King co-angler side. When the dust settled, Delaware angler Larry Taylor held the trophy and a big check for $50,000, rising from ninth to the top on the final day.
The All-American is one of the hardest events to qualify for and Taylor had a few extra steps as he qualified through The Bass Federation (TBF) on his journey to South Carolina. He weighed 11 bass over three days for 24 pounds, 8 ounces and bested star co-angler Gary Haraguchi by 1-4 on the way to the win.
Hailing from Seaford, Delaware, not typically known as a bass fishing mecca, Taylor began his path to the All-American by fishing with the Delaware TBF on the Nanticoke River near his home.
“My buddy Jason Vaughan asked me to fish the qualifier because he needed a co-angler to guarantee his spot as a boater,” he said. “I wasn’t planning on it, but said “sure” and then ended up winning the Semi-Final event to make it to Nationals.”
He was the winner of the Mid-Atlantic Division at that National Championship and earned a spot in the All-American, and he took full advantage, taking the lead after the first day with 11-1.
The second day was a struggle for him and he only brought in two fish for 3-6 but rebounded on the final day with a 10-1 limit while fishing with Brian LaClair.
“The second day was tough on me and the fish wouldn’t commit to my fluke, which is how I caught them all on the first day,” he said. “The first day, I was fishing it by cranking it to the boat in a straight line and they were crushing it. I changed my colors and tried different retrieves, but nothing seemed to help the second day. I thought only having two fish would kill my chances of winning.”
He credited LaClair for putting him around the fish on the final day and assisting with the winning lure.
“I rode with a great guy today and we fished bridge pilings in 25 to 30 feet of water with little 1/8-ounce jigs,” he said. “We were fishing them in green pumpkin with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm as the trailer. The bridges were loaded with herring and that jig was the exact size of them.”
After being announced as the winner, Taylor was at a loss for words but said he greatly enjoyed his experience this week.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, I thought for sure one of the leaders would have another big bag, but that’s fishing,” he said. “This is a beautiful lake in beautiful country. The people here are great; I had a great time.”
The highest-finishing Strike King Co-angler from each Regional Championship (including the Wild Card) at the All-American advance to the Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning $33,500.
The eight Strike King Co-anglers that finished highest from their region and earned an automatic qualification into the 2023 Toyota Series Championship Presented by Simms on Table Rock Lake are:
Daniel Bryant, Scott, La.
Keith Gunsauls, Dandridge, Tenn.
Gary Haraguchi, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Trent Killian, Bostic, N.C.
Shawn Overton, Coal Valley, Ill.
Larry Taylor, Seaford, Del.
Daren Tindle, Owensboro, Ky.
Benji Winkler, Cleveland, Ga.
1. Larry Taylor – 24 – 8 (11) – $50,000
2. Gary Haraguchi – 23 – 4 (15) – $10,000
3. Keith Gunsauls – 23 – 3 (12) – $6,000
4. Daniel Bryant – 22 – 1 (11) – $5,000
5. Brandon Bell – 20 – 7 (13) – $4,500
6. Aaron Calvert – 19 – 10 (14) – $4,000
7. Chris Wilson – 19 – 3 (12) – $3,700
8. Joshua Jernigan – 16 – 2 (10) – $3,000
9. Benjie Winkler – 15 – 8 (10) – $2,500
10. Jerry Armstrong – 15 – 4 (8) – $2,000