West Virginia’s Davidson posts fourth career win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Lake Cumberland - Major League Fishing
West Virginia’s Davidson posts fourth career win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Lake Cumberland
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West Virginia’s Davidson posts fourth career win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Lake Cumberland

Crouch, of Jamestown, Tenn., tops Strike King co-angler division
Image for West Virginia’s Davidson posts fourth career win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League event at Lake Cumberland
Boater winner Ryan Davidson of Branchland, West Virginia, and Strike King co-angler winner Wayne Crouch of Jamestown, Tennessee.
April 15, 2024 • MLF • Phoenix Bass Fishing League

MONTICELLO, Ky. – Boater Ryan Davidson of Branchland, West Virginia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 13 ounces, Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Cumberland. The tournament was the third event of the season for the BFL Mountain Division. Davidson earned $11,066, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

Spawning smallmouths, keen eyesight and perspective mode on Garmin LiveScope were the keys to Davidson’s victory at Cumberland. 

It started in practice, when Davidson hunted for rock transitions where he suspected smallmouths would be spawning.

“It’s all rock, but it’s not all the same rock,” he said of Cumberland’s shoreline. “There are transitions where we go from chunk rock to pea gravel or bluff rock to chunk rock. Or any of those transition places; something that’s different. You kind of target those areas and maybe 50 yards to either side of one of those transitions. That’s your high-percentage stuff.”

Once in the right areas, Davidson said the bass were typically too deep to sight-fish. So during practice, he blind-casted, trying to get fish to show themselves on his bait. Once he saw the fish chase or roll, he made a very detailed waypoint, so he’d know exactly where to look for the fish in the tournament. 

On tournament Saturday, Davidson spent the first 90 minutes trying to catch a smallmouth with no luck.

“So I ran shallow and caught three 3-plus-pound largemouth,” he said. “After that, the sun got up and we had some wind, and it kind of brought everything back to life. It just kind of felt dead this morning.”

Only one of those largemouth bass (a 4-plus) made the trip to weigh-in. Davidson was able to cull out the rest with smallmouths using his LiveScope in perspective mode to scan the water on his waypoints, looking for movement from the bass he’d previously located on beds. 

Davidson was careful to fish thoroughly on each spot, since there were typically clusters of spawning fish. But he was also playing a “numbers game” and making sure to cover water.

While Davidson was guarded about what he used to catch his fish, he did reveal that a Ned rig was in play. More importantly, the key to his win was rolling with the punches for what the day gave him.

“The smallmouth didn’t go in the morning, so I went largemouth fishing just to basically get some fish and get my day rolling and get a little momentum,” he said. “It’s also easier to fish if you’ve got something in the box.

“Things just went to course.”

The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:          Ryan Davidson, Branchland, W.Va., five bass, 17-13, $11,066 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd:        Danny Abrams, Greens Fork, Ind., five bass, 17-2, $2,383
3rd:        Ron Smith, Walton, Ky., five bass, 16-1, $1,256
4th:         Lee Stephens, Columbia, Ky., five bass, 15-6, $879
5th:         Bailey Gay, Union, Ky., five bass, 15-2, $753
6th:         Joe Rucker, Nicholasville, Ky., five bass, 14-14, $690
7th:         Isaac Peavyhouse, Jamestown, Tenn., five bass, 14-9, $753
8th:         Tim Akers, Richmond, Ky., five bass, 14-6, $533
8th:         Jordan Garrett, Jamestown, Tenn., five bass, 14-6, $533
10th:      Talmadge Marcum, McKee, Ky., five bass, 14-4, $439

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Danny Abrams of Greens Fork, Indiana, caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $500.

James Crouch of Jamestown, Tennessee, won the Strike King co-angler division and $2,259 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 13 pounds even.

The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished: 

1st:          Wayne Crouch, Jamestown, Tenn., five bass, 13-0, $2,259
2nd:        Jonathan Gregory, Somerset, Ky., five bass, 12-12, $1,171
3rd:        Johnny Poston, Hilham, Tenn., five bass, 11-13, $619
4th:         Jerry Wittmer, Shepherdsville, Ky., four bass, 9-0, $434
5th:         Timothy Ernst, Winchester, Ky., five bass, 8-4, $372
6th:         Levi Allgeier, Bardstown, Ky., five bass, 8-1, $325
6th:         Eugene Lowe, Huntsville, Tenn., four bass, 8-1, $325
8th:         David Carey, Harrodsburg, Ky., four bass, 8-0, $413
8th:         Luke Shrader, Monticello, Ky., three bass, 8-0, $413
10th:      Nathan Nester, Cookeville, Tenn., three bass, 7-11, $217

Jonathan Gregory of Somerset, Kentucky, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $242, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 3 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After three events, Bailey Gay of Union, Kentucky, leads the Fishing Clash Mountain Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 725 points, while Luke Shrader of Monticello, Kentucky, leads the Fishing Clash Mountain Division Co-Angler of the Year race with 719 points.

The next event for BFL Mountain Division anglers will be held June 22, at Barren River Lake in Scottsville, Kentucky. 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 region based on point standings, along with the five tournament winners of each qualifying event, will qualify for the Oct. 3-5 BFL Regional tournament on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee. 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, Fishing Clash, 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 FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.