GILBERTSVILLE, Ky. – Boater Michael Miller of Greenville, South Carolina, caught a two-day cumulative total of 10 bass weighing 31 pounds even to win the no-entry fee T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Wild Card tournament on Kentucky and Barkley lakes. For his efforts, Miller earned one of the final berths into the 2020 BFL All-American Championship.
The BFL Wild Card tournament is a last-chance shot at the All-American for BFL anglers that didn’t qualify for a Regional Championship.
“I did not see that coming,” said Miller, a former FLW College Fishing angler who competed for Furman University. “I had a pretty decent practice and I thought I might be able to catch a good one each day. Maybe two. I certainly didn’t see 15 pounds coming two days in a row.”
Miller caught his fish targeting two different places on the north end of the lake, never fishing more than 10 miles south of the dam.
“I caught them pretty much out of two areas,” Miller said. “One produced real well on Friday, and I caught all my weight on the other spot on Saturday.”
On day one, Miller said he caught five largemouth with an umbrella rig and a shaky-head rig targeting a wind-blown riprap bank with deeper water. Casting right at the bank, he fished 7 to 12 feet deep. His second area was a big windblown flat that was about 5 feet deep. He caught three largemouth and two smallmouth there on Saturday.
“On Friday at the end of the day, I saw a 4-pounder come out of the water chasing a gizzard shad on that flat. I didn’t catch it, but I decided to start there the next day,” said Miller. “It was just a big flat, probably the size of two football fields, and it had isolated stuff on it – rock piles, stake beds and some dark spots. You’d run your bait across the top or drag it through and every once in a while you’d get a quality bite.”
Miller’s key bait on the flat was a structure jig.
“I caught a small one Saturday morning, and I thought that fish probably got me to the All-American. Then, a little later, I caught a few more, including a 4-11,” says Miller. “At that point I thought I had the tournament won, so I spent the rest of the day trying to help my co-angler out. When I got in, everyone was talking about an 18-pound bag of smallmouth, and as I was loading my fish I was sure I didn’t have enough.”
The 18-pound bag of smallmouth belonged to Illinois’ Brian Futch, who weighed in a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds, 5 ounces. Alas, it was just a bit short, as Miller had enough to earn the victory by a razor-thin 1-ounce margin.
“I put a lot of work in to make this All-American,” Miller went on to say. “I live about 30 minutes up the road from Lake Hartwell, and I made it in 2018 as a co-angler. It is without a doubt the best tournament I’ve ever been to. It’s so much fun to be there, and now I’ve got a chance to go and do really well.”
The top six boaters that qualified for the 2020 BFL All-American were:
1st: Michael Miller, Greenville, S.C., 10 bass, 31-0, $2,483
2nd: Brian Futch, Herrin, Ill., 10 bass, 30-15, $1,323
3rd: Bryan Dowdy, Florence, Ala., 10 bass, 23-13, $772
4th: Toby Corn, Calvert City, Ky., five bass, 15-12
5th: Will White, Wake Forest, N.C., eight bass, 14-11
6th: Harold Buchmeier, Gilbertsville, Ky., five bass, 11-9
Rounding out the top-10 boaters were:
7th: Joey Schmidt, Hickory, Ky., four bass, 11-6, $694
8th: Walter James, Braselton, Ga., five bass, 10-12
9th: Rick Bowen, Jackson, Tenn., four bass, 10-10, $617
10th: James Davis, Hollywood, Fla., five bass, 10-6
Complete results can be found at FLWFishing.com.
Futch caught the biggest bass of the tournament in the Boater Division Saturday, a fish weighing 5 pounds, 5 ounces, which earned him the day’s Boater Big Bass Award of $81.
Walter Hammond of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, won the Co-angler Division with a two-day cumulative of three bass weighing 11 pounds, 14 ounces.
The top six co-anglers that qualified for the 2020 BFL All-American were:
1st: Walter Hammond, Lee’s Summit, Mo., three bass, 11-14, $1,295
2nd: Charles Dellard, Burleson, Texas, three bass, 9-14, $822
3rd: Chad Cartwright, Benton, Ky., four bass, 9-8, $470
4th: Bryan Barnard, Harrison, Ark., three bass, 8-2, $378
5th: Shawn Kemper, Iberia, Mo., two bass, 7-12
6th: Leo Reiter, Greenup, Ill., two bass, 7-0, $336
Rounding out the top-10 co-anglers were:
7th: Daniel Robinson, Atlanta, Ga., two bass, 7-0
8th: David Lambert, Middletown, Ohio, two bass, 6-12, $354
9th: Todd Blakeman, Chatham, Ill., three bass, 6-7, $269
10th: Jon Dailey, Kingston, Tenn., three bass, 6-3
Hammond also caught the heaviest bass of the tournament in the Co-angler Division Saturday, a fish weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces, which earned him the day’s Co-Angler Big Bass Award of $52.
The T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League Wild Card tournament on Kentucky and Barkley lakes was hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The 2019 BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six 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 2020 BFL All-American will be held April 30-May 2 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, South Carolina, and is hosted by Visit Anderson. Top performers in the BFL can move up to the Costa FLW Series or even the FLW Tour.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League on FLW’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2019 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW and their partners conduct more than 290 bass-fishing tournaments annually around the world, including the United States, Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Zimbabwe. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros. For more information visit FLWFishing.com and follow FLW at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
# # #