CULLMAN, Ala. – Boater Jesse Wiggins of Addison, Alabama, brought a three-day total of 15 bass to the scale weighing 42 pounds, 5 ounces, to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Regional Event on Lewis Smith Lake in Cullman, Alabama. For his victory, Wiggins earned $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000. Wiggins also received automatic entry into the 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship, May 31-June 2, at Lake Hartwell in Seneca, South Carolina.
“The first day I caught a couple of quick keepers and then started running some history – spots I’d caught them on this time of year – and I was able to catch a couple more good ones, and then a 4½-pounder near the end of the day.
“Going into Day 2, I was about two pounds behind my brother, who was leading, and I knew I was going to have to get a couple of big bites to get a good bag,” Wiggins added. “I caught a couple of key keepers right off the bat running the same stuff I did before.”
Wiggins said he pulled four big bites from the same area that were key to his second day and gave him momentum and a one-pound lead going into the final day of competition. He felt like he needed 13 pounds to have a chance at the win. He started the final day the same way in the same spots he had started the previous two days; the spot produced two nice keepers. Wiggins said his morning fish came on a 2.8 Jackall Rhythm Wave swimbait and a small Keitech swimbait on a ¼-ounce Owner jighead. Later in the day, his fish came on a squarebill crankbait and a vibrating jig.
“I was happy with that start,” Wiggins said. “I didn’t catch a bunch of fish; it was nothing special. It was just a grindfest for me. I can catch a bunch of fish this time of year, but I was really focusing on quality.
“This was my first time fishing a whole slate of a division of BFLs, and I did it because the Regional was on my home lake here at Lewis Smith,” Wiggins added. “This time of year, it can fish real tough and that’s one of the main reasons I wanted to be in it. A lot of times when it’s tough, you can have an advantage.”
The top six boaters that qualified for the 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American were:
Rounding out the Top 10 boaters were:
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The top four boaters from each division that earned a $1,000 bonus for placing highest in the event were:
Wagner took home an extra $500 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $7,000 per event in each Phoenix Bass Fishing League tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Keith Gunsauls of Dandridge, Tennessee, weighed in 14 bass over three days totaling 25 pounds, 1 ounce to win the top Strike King co-angler prize package of $50,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.
The top six Strike King Co-anglers that qualified for the 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American were:
Rounding out the Top 10 Strike King Co-anglers were:
The top four Strike King Co-anglers from each division that earned a $500 bonus for placing highest in the event were:
The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Regional Tournament on Lewis Smith Lake was hosted by the Cullman Area Local Organizing Committee. It featured the top pros and Strike King co-anglers from the Mississippi, Mountain, Volunteer and Savannah River divisions.
The 2022 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine 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 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 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 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.
The top boaters and Strike King Co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the MLF Toyota Series, the pathway to the MLF Tackle Warehouse Invitationals and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.
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.