GALLATIN, Tenn. – Boater Ryan Dowell of Brandenburg, Kentucky, caught 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 2 ounces, to win the two-day Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on Old Hickory Lake in Gallatin, Tennessee. The tournament, hosted by Sumner County Tourism, was the fifth and final regular-season event for the Phoenix Bass Fishing League Music City Division. Dowell earned $4,944 for his victory.
“I practiced Thursday up the river and caught most of my fish on topwater,” Dowell said. “I found a creek that had a few good fish in it, and I didn’t hook very many of them in practice; I kind of left them alone. I didn’t really know what it would turn into. But, on Saturday, I went there and got my limit pretty quickly, and ended up picking up a big one on the main river.
“Sunday, I went there, caught my limit, culled two or three times, and had what I had,” he said.
Dowell said he never left the creek during the tournament and relied on a buzzbait and spinnerbait thrown near any wood, with the bigger bass coming from cover hanging over water 5 to 6 feet deep. Dowell said he approached the final weigh-in doubtful of his chances for a win.
“I had a bad feeling when I came in that I didn’t have enough,” Dowell said. “I thought I needed one more kicker. But I had a little bit more weight than I thought I had.”
Dowell’s fears of not having enough weight turned out to be unfounded, as he won by more than 4 pounds.
“This win is a relief,” Dowell said. “You never know if you’re good enough to win or not. Being able to get it done feels really good.”
The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Wade Werner of Portland, Tennessee, had a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 3 ounces that was the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $570.
Mark Gilbert of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, won the Strike King co-angler division and $2,766 Sunday after catching a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 20 pounds, 1 ounce.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
Rocky Williams of Portland, Tennessee, caught the largest bass in the Strike King co-angler division, a fish weighing in at 4 pounds, 1 ounce. The catch earned him the Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $277.
With the regular season now complete, boater Josh Womack of Gallatin, Tennessee, won the 2023 Bass Fishing League Music City Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with a five-event total of 1,308 points to earn the $1,000 boater AOY award. Rocky Williams of Portland, Tennessee, won the 2023 Strike King Co-Angler Music City Division AOY race with 1,350 points and earned the $500 Strike King Co-angler of the Year award.
Now, the top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the division based on point standings, along with the five winners of each qualifying event, will advance to compete in the Oct. 12-14 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. Boaters will fish for a top award of $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury 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 outboard.
The 2023 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.
The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals and ultimately the Bass Pro Tour.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, General Tire, Grundéns, Gill, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Mystik Lubricants, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X 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 Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.