HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – It is turning in to the Conner Cunningham show at Lake Hamilton this week. After starting the day in with a 4-pound, 10-ounce lead, Cunningham, from Springfield, Missouri, weighed in a five-bass limit Friday totaling 15 pounds, 2 ounces, to extend his lead and pace the final 10 boaters that have now qualified to compete on Championship Saturday at the 39th annual Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship on Lake Hamilton Presented by T-H Marine in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Cunningham’s two-day total of 10 bass weighing 32-10 will give him an 8-pound, 5-ounce advantage heading into the final day of competition. Boater Hunter Eubanks of Inman, South Carolina, weighed in a two-day total of 10 bass for 24-5 to finish Day 2 in second place, while Alexandria, Kentucky’s, Sean Wieda rounds out the top three with a two-day total of 22-12.
The final 10 boaters and Strike King Co-anglers are now set, and competition will resume tomorrow morning on Championship Saturday. The three-day tournament, hosted by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Visit Hot Springs, features the nation’s best weekend grassroots anglers competing for a top prize of up to $120,000, and a top prize of $50,000 for the winning Strike King co-angler.
“Today definitely blew all of my expectations out of the water,” a happy Cunningham said after weighing in on Friday. “I’m honored to just be here, let alone leading this thing. The worst that I can do tomorrow is 10th place.”
Cunningham said that he fished the same way Friday that he did on Day 1, covering water and hitting around 30 different spots with a trio of baits that he declined to divulge.
“I’m just covering a ton of water and fishing what’s in front of me,” Cunningham said. “I caught my last fish today out deep, cranking a hump, and I was fortunate that it was a 5-pounder.
“Tomorrow, I’ll fish my fish the whole entire day,” Cunningham said. “I’ve been trying to save some. This lake is small, and I’ve been laying off them the last couple of days and trying to save them. I’m going to milk it for everything it’s worth tomorrow.”
When asked what he thought about being so close to the top payout of $120,000 and how he was feeling, the Ozark Division angler said that he would sleep just fine on Friday night.
“I try not to think about the money – I just leave it with the man upstairs,” Cunningham said. “If He wants me to win, I’ll win. Now tomorrow morning when I’m taking off at 6:30 a.m. it might be a whole different ball of wax, but right now I’m just so happy to be here I think I’ll sleep just fine tonight.
The Top 10 boaters advancing to the final day of the All-American on Lake Hamilton are:
1st: Connor Cunningham, Springfield, Mo., 10 bass, 32-10
2nd: Hunter Eubanks, Inman, S.C., 10 bass, 24-5
3rd: Sean Wieda, Alexandria, Ky., 10 bass, 22-12
4th: Brian Bean, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 22-4
5th: David Lowery, Milledgeville, Ga., 10 bass, 21-7
6th: Ryan Powroznik, Hopewell, Va., 10 bass, 21-6
7th: Andy Wicker, Cayce, S.C., 10 bass, 20-12
8th: Jonathan Crossland, Chapin, S.C., 10 bass, 20-7
9th: Justin Kimmel, Athens, Ga., 10 bass, 20-4
10th: Mike Reid, Greenville, Texas, 10 bass, 19-5
Finishing in 11th through 49th are:
11th: Drew Tabor, Harrison, Ark., 10 bass, 19-4, $3,000
12th: Wade Ramsey, Choctaw, Okla., 10 bass, 18-15, $3,000
13th: Mike Brueggen, La Crosse, Wis., 10 bass, 18-8, $3,000
14th: George Brown, Camby, Ind., 10 bass, 18-6, $3,000
15th: Preston Henson, College Grove, Tenn., 10 bass, 18-4, $3,000
16th: Matthew Marinelli, Salem, Conn., 10 bass, 18-4, $3,000
17th: Brad Kell, Benton, Ky., 10 bass, 18-4, $3,000
18th: Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 10 bass, 18-2, $3,000
19th: Brody Campbell, Oxford, Ohio, 10 bass, 17-13, $3,000
20th: David Bright, Mooresville, N.C., 10 bass, 17-6, $3,000
21st: Chris Wilkinson, Farmersburg, Ind., 10 bass, 17-2, $2,000
22nd: Laker Howell, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 17-1, $2,000
23rd: Matt Henry, Milledgeville, Ga., 10 bass, 17-1, $2,000
24th: Jarrett Martin, Mansfield, Ohio, 10 bass, 17-0, $2,000
25th: Darren Ashley, Calhoun Falls, S.C., 10 bass, 16-14, $2,000
26th: Kevin Brown, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 16-9, $2,000
27th: Taylor Parker, Lake View, Ala., 10 bass, 16-9, $2,000
28rd: Perry Dawson, Rockwood, Tenn., 10 bass, 16-8, $2,000
29rd: Michael Duarte, Baltimore, Md., 10 bass, 16-7, $2,000
30th: Steve Phillips, Douglas, Ga., 10 bass, 16-7, $2,000
31th: Chase Stewart, Ware Shoals, S.C., 10 bass, 15-10, $1,500
32nd: Kevin Powers, Unicoi, Tenn., 10 bass, 15-5, $1,500
33th: Robert Crosnoe, Inverness, Fla., nine bass, 15-3, $1,500
34th: Paul Bottali, York, Pa., 10 bass, 15-2, $1,500
35th: Scott Browning, Franklin, N.C., nine bass, 14-6, $1,500
36th: Jim Vitaro, Wooster, Ohio, 10 bass, 14-3, $1,500
37th: Brien Vaughn, Walnut Shade, Mo., 10 bass, 14-0, $1,500
38th: Ryan Deal, Evansville, Ind., nine bass, 13-11, $1,500
39th: David Rice, Galena, Mo., nine bass, 13-10, $1,500
40th: Eddie Hinojosa, Kingsburg, Calif., nine bass, 13-3, $1,500
41nd: Christopher Helfer, Baltimore, Ohio, nine bass, 13-3, $1,500
42th: Jordan Hirt, Glenwood, Iowa, 10 bass, 13-3, $1,500
43th: Randy Siemens, Kalispell, Mont., nine bass, 13-2, $1,500
44th: Scott Bonnema, Deerwood, Minn., nine bass, 12-7, $1,500
45th: Bill Buckner, Scottsburg, Ind., 10 bass, 11-14, $1,500
46rd: Hunter Litchfield, Macomb, Ill., nine bass, 11-12, $1,500
47st: Tyler Smith, Selma, Ala., eight bass, 10-8, $1,500
48nd: Christopher Chavis, Guyton, Ga., seven bass, 9-11, $1,500
49th: Taylor Johnson, Texarkana, Ark., six bass, 8-9, $1,500
A full list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 231 bass weighing 395 pounds, 10 ounces caught by 49 boaters Friday. The catch included 39 five-bass limits.
After two days of competition, co-angler Cory Guinn of Mountain Rest, South Carolina, leads the Strike King Co-angler Division at Lake Hamilton with a total of 10 bass weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces. Guinn will bring a 3-pound, 8-ounce lead into Championship Saturday over second-place co-angler Clint Horton of Falkner, Mississippi, who weighed in a two-day total of 10 bass totaling 14 pounds, 15 ounces.
“As long as the shallow bite is working and those deep bites set up on brush piles, it should be a good day. Really it is just going to depend on what my boater is wanting to do,” Guinn said.
“I didn’t have a single bite until about 10 this morning,” Guinn said. “As soon as the sun came out though, the fish started setting up right. I caught two back-to-back and it really got me going for the rest of the day.”
Guinn hails from more than 700 miles away from Hot Springs and Lake Hamilton. Although the distance may be far, the Palmetto State co-angler says that he feels right at home in the Ozarks because of Hamilton’s characteristics.
“Just like our lakes back home, Lake Hamilton has threadfin shad,” Guinn said. “There’s also a ton of docks and offshore brush piles. Learning how to skip docks really helps fishing here because when the sun is out here, these fish love to set up under those docks.”
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers advancing to the final day of competition at the All-American on Lake Hamilton are:
1st: Cory Guinn, Mountain Rest, S.C., 10 bass, 18-7
2nd: Clint Horton, Falkner, Miss., 10 bass, 14-15
3rd: Brendan Vinton, Braintree, Vt., nine bass, 14-8
4th: Zachary Verbugge, Lake Havasu, Ariz., 10 bass, 14-8
5th: Eric Eden, Hartsville, Tenn., 10 bass, 13-15
6th: Evan Eldred, Gaines, Mich., nine bass, 13-14
7th: Hunter Dahnke, Missoula, Mont., 10 bass, 13-11
8th: Jeffery Johnson, Austin, Ind., 10 bass, 13-1
9th: Alan Hill, Ada, Okla., eight bass, 12-15
10th: Steven Obester, Palatka, Fla., seven bass, 12-12
Finishing in 11th through 49th are:
11th: Chandler White, Covington, Ga., seven bass, 12-11, $1,500
12th: Kenneth Hunnicut, Jacksonville, Fla., eight bass, 12-7, $1,500
13th: Billy Rusher, Lincoln, Ark., six bass, 12-6, $1,500
14th: Scott Blaesi, Maxwell, Neb., eight bass, 11-12, $1,500
15th: Harold Addison II, Columbia, S.C., eight bass, 10-15, $1,500
16th: Harrison McCall, Salisbury, N.C., eight bass, 10-10, $1,500
17th: Brian Short, Oxford, Ohio, seven bass, 10-8, $1,500
18th: Randy Allen, Russellville, Ark., 10 bass, 10-7, $1,500
19th: Gilbert Jolley, Livingston, Tenn., eight bass, 10-6, $1,500
20th: Kim Sapetti, Chatham, Ill., seven bass, 10-0, $1,500
21st: Drew Cress, Highland, Ill., six bass, 9-7, $1,000
22nd: Gary Owens, Columbus, Ind., seven bass, 9-1, $1,000
23rd: Randy Paquette, Sarasota, Fla., eight bass, 9-1, $1,000
24th: B.K. Kelley, Chester, Va., seven bass, 9-0, $1,000
25th: Brian Choate, Conway, Ark., seven bass, 8-12, $1,000
26th: Brad Smith, Montevallo, Ala., seven bass, 8-5, $1,000
27th: Andy Vance, Danville, Ind., five bass, 8-4, $1,000
28th: Carl Whipple, Manassas, Va., seven bass, 8-1, $1,000
29th: Patrick Weir, Park Hill, Okla., four bass, 7-9, $1,000
30th: Kyle Rogers, Cleveland, Ga., seven bass, 7-6, $1,000
31st: Pop Catalin, Cookeville, Tenn., six bass, 7-1, $750
32nd: Steve Sorrell, Beavercreek, Ohio, eight bass, 7-1, $750
33rd: Blake Hollingsworth, Oxford, Ala., six bass, 6-14, $750
34th: Danny Robinson, Fairland, Ind., five bass, 6-4, $750
35th: Gary Meredith, Mount Juliet, Tenn., six bass, 6-0, $750
36th: Tyler Stuart, Manchester, Mo., five bass, 5-10, $750
37th: Randy Hudson, Columbus, N.C., five bass, 5-8, $750
38th: Brian Zelinskas, Beavercreek, Ohio, four bass, 5-5, $750
39th: John Martin, Ridley Park, Pa., four bass, 5-5, $750
40th: Andrew Wooley, Little Rock, Ark., four bass, 5-2, $750
41st: Samuel Jones, Fuquay Varina, N.C., five bass, 5-0, $750
42nd: Luke Schmits, Alexandria, Ky., four bass, 5-0, $750
43rd: Jarrod Bailey, Salyersville, Ky., three bass, 4-15, $750
44th: James Menold, Amory, Miss., four bass, 4-14, $750
45th: David Ondrla, Elmhurst, Ill., four bass, 4-8, $750
46th: Max Stawinoga, Prairie du Sac, Wis., three bass, 3-7, $750
47th: Max Meister, Atco, N.J., three bass, 3-5, $750
48th: Russell Woodson, Jonesville, S.C., three bass, 3-1, $750
49th: Chris Grimes, Thurmont, Md., one bass, 1-3, $750
Overall, there were 150 bass weighing 206 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 43 Strike King co-anglers on Friday. The catch included 16 five-bass limits.
The full field of 49 boaters and 49 Strike King co-anglers competed on Days 1 (Thursday) and 2 (Friday) of the event. Now, after two days of competition, the field is cut to just the Top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on two-day total cumulative weight, and the final 10 anglers compete tomorrow on Championship Saturday. The boater and co-angler that catch the heaviest three-day total weight will be crowned the 39th Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Champions.
The final 10 boaters and Strike King co-anglers will launch Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. CT from the Andrew Hulsey Fish Hatchery, located at 350 Fish Hatchery Road in Hot Springs. Saturday’s Championship weigh-in will be held at the launch location and will begin at 2:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend Saturday’s launch and weigh-in events and encouraged to follow the event’s online coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine was 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, advanced to one of six Regional Championships where they competed to finish in the top six, which then advanced them to compete in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.
Television coverage of the 2022 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will premiere in early October on CBS Sports and the Sportsman Channel. The full television air schedule can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, AFTCO, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Revital Outdoors, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X, YETI and Yo-Zuri.
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.