GROVE, Okla. – Starting the final day in fourth place, nearly 4 pounds behind tournament leader Chad Warren, pro Blake Capps knew he needed to have a big day. And that’s exactly what the Muskogee, Oklahoma, pro did on Saturday. Capps caught a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 8 ounces, to vault to the top of the leaderboard and win the Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Grand Lake and earn the top payout of $87,000. Over the three days of competition Capps’ catch of 15 bass totaling 59-6 earned him the win by a 7-pound, 2-ounce margin over pro Michael Harlin of Sunrise Beach, Missouri, who finished runner-up with a three-day total of 52-4, good for $20,000.
“I think you can guess I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Capps said with a laugh after the weigh-in. “I had full confidence going into today.”
It showed early on Day 3, as Capps got off to a hot start in the morning. The Muskogee, Oklahoma, angler busted what he estimated to be roughly 18 pounds in the first two hours of the morning. He then got to work bouncing from spot to spot, hunting for upgrades.
“I culled one at about 11 that was a 2.75 for a 3.75,” he said, “I thought I had a little shot at it at that point. But it was the 5-pounder I caught in the last hour that made me think I really had a shot.”
The key 5-pounder came on a bank he hadn’t visited in over two years, but after co-angler champion Jason Sandidge caught keepers on back-to-back casts, Capps knew he had to double back through the area.
“Once he caught his fish then we turned around and went back up that bank,” he said. “There was a little brush pile in 8 feet of water and in it was my 5-pounder. All my fish this week came in 10 feet of water or less.”
The bank itself held a lot of the same characteristics as many of the areas Capps focused on this week. Capps primarily targeted banks and points with larger rock piles and brush piles holding limited, but larger-than-average fish he found in practice. He located his fish during practice on a bladed jig and a flat-sided squarebill. But, come gameday, the weather and blustery cold conditions told Capps to fall in line with the other umbrella rig slingers that dominated the field.
“I had that 19-11 on Day 1 and I was done fishing at 10:45 in my area. I didn’t want to burn anything knowing it was a three-day tournament. On Day 2 I had all my fish by 11 o’clock for the most part. I didn’t have a big fish on Day 2. I weighed a 3-pounder I really needed to get rid of.”
Capps, who blasted his way to a 7-pound victory, credits years of experience and solid equipment as major factors in getting him through a tough week at Grand. He says it made a huge difference for him as he and the field faced adverse conditions all week.
“I’m really fortunate to have proper tools to compete at this level,” he said. “My Phoenix was important for getting me to my fish and back to weigh-in in the crazy winds we had the last few days. I also used a Falcon Cara “Big Bait” rod for my A-rig, and that was key for throwing it all day.”
The Top 10 pros on Grand Lake finished:
1st: Blake Capps, Muskogee, Okla., 15 bass, 59-6, $87,000 (includes $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus)
2nd: Michael Harlin, Sunrise Beach, Mo., 15 bass, 52-4, $20,000
3rd: Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 14 bass, 51-11, $14,250
4th: Chad Warren, Sand Springs, Okla., 12 bass, 45-13, $12,250
5th: Austin Culbertson, Moberly, Mo., 12 bass, 43-9, $11,250
6th: Cole Breeden, Lebanon, Mo., 11 bass, 43-4, $9,125
7th: Billy Lemon, Sand Springs, Okla., 13 bass, 42-15, $7,900
8th: Mike McClelland, Blue Eye, Mo., 14 bass, 42-13, $6,900
9th: Kevin Miller, Shell Knob, Mo., 12 bass, 42-5, $6,400
10th: Preston Cook, Miami, Okla., 13 bass, 39-13, $4,500
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Pro Jeremy Davis of Imperial, Missouri, took home the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Thursday with a largemouth weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces. On Friday, pro Kevin Miller of Shell Knob, Missouri, earned the $500 Berkley Big Bass prize after bringing a 6-pound, 13-ounce bass to the scale.
Capps earned an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Jason Sandidge of Centerton, Arkansas, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 10 bass weighing 22 pounds, 2 ounces. Sandidge took home the top prize package worth $34,750, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Grand Lake finished:
1st: Jason Sandidge, Centerton, Ark., 10 bass, 22-2, $34,750 incl. Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd: Anthony Scoma, Spring Hill, Kan., five bass, 19-14, $6,275
3rd: Alan Bernicky, Joliet, Ill., nine bass, 19-2, $5,250
4th: Kyle Wilcox, Littleton, Colo., six bass, 17-6, $3,950
5th: Jeff Moss, Oronogo, Mo., seven bass, 16-8, $3,450
6th: David Matual, Chicago, Ill., five bass, 15-11, $2,950
7th: Justin Tye, Westville, Okla., five bass, 15-5, $2,450
8th: Dan Bowman, Osage Beach, Mo., five bass, 15-4, $1,975
9th: Travis Snyder, Westville, Okla., four bass, 14-11, $1,590
10th: Mason Chambers, Galena, Mo., four bass, 11-10, $1,350
Scott Neiheisel of Cincinnati, Ohio, was the Berkley Big Bass $150 award winner in the Strike King co-angler division, Thursday, weighing in a 7-pounder. Thursday’s Day 2 $150 award went to Scoma with a 6-pound, 8-ounce bass.
With one regular-season event in the Toyota Series Plains Division now complete, Capps leads the Plains Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 260 points, while Sandidge leads the Strike King Co-angler Division AOY race with 260 points.
The Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats at Grand Lake, hosted by the City of Grove, was the first of three regular-season events for the Toyota Series Plains Division. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will be the Toyota Series at Lewis Smith Lake, March 21-23, in Cullman, Alabama. For a complete schedule of events, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and the Western Division Presented by Tackle Warehouse – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions or the Wild Card division and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 and a qualification to REDCREST 2024. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship will be held Nov. 2-4 on Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri, and is hosted by ExploreBranson.com.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Toyota Series include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Black Rifle Coffee Company, E3, Favorite Fishing, Fox Rent a Car, General Tire, Gill, Grundéns, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Wiley X and YETI.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.