Bale Snags Strike King Co-Angler Trophy at Grand - Major League Fishing

Bale Snags Strike King Co-Angler Trophy at Grand

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April 30, 2022 • Brenden Kanies • Toyota Series

GROVE, Okla. – With a three-day total of 35 pounds, 9 ounces, Grove native Steven Bale took home the Strike King co-angler trophy and a brand-new Phoenix bass boat for the win in the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. event on Grand Lake. Joining him in the top three were Bryan Barnard (33-5) and Matthew Hargarten (30-9).

Coming into the day with a 5-pound lead, Bale felt he only needed a few big bites to seal the deal. Those bites ended up being a little harder to come by than he expected.

“It was a nail-biter,” he said. “I only had one fish until about noon today. I was struggling. The wind picked up, and it was very tough. We pulled into a cove out of the wind and I was able to throw a shaky head to finally pick up my second and third bites. I never had a fourth.”

Bale targeted fish across different stages of the spawn throughout the week, in depths ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 10 feet. One thing remained constant, as all of his success came in stained water.

“I live here in Grove, and I debated not getting into this tournament as a co-angler because I knew it was going to be a sight-fishing tournament. Then I noticed that most of the water was muddy as long as you don’t go down-lake,” he said. “All three days I was fortunate to draw three guys who stayed in mud, if I’d went to clear water I don’t think I would’ve had the bags that I did.”

With his general location on the lake remaining the same, Bale did find it necessary to switch baits according to the conditions.

“On the first day I caught two on a Strike King HC 1.5,” he said. “On Day 2 I threw it 50 or 60 times and ended up putting it down, I didn’t touch it again the rest of the day. I picked up a shaky head and caught all five fish on it yesterday, and I broke off another four or five fish because I was throwing it like a jig up in the brush.”

After getting a bunch of bites on Day 2, The winds of change blew on Day 3, and almost swept away his championship chances.

“Today was brutal,” Bale said. “Everywhere we went the wind was blowing. I couldn’t throw that shaky head. It would take off and I couldn’t fish it where I wanted to. Fortunately, we pulled into that cove and I was able to get it done.”

Very familiar with Grand Lake and likely patterns, Bale feels the spawn is just starting and the bite is only going to bet better.

“The shad spawn hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “Once it does, it’s going to blow up. If the wind dies down, the guys are going to smash ‘em in the next few days.”

Thanks to his local knowledge and persistence from the back of the boat, next time Bale will be setting the hook from the front of his brand-new Phoenix 518 Pro.

Top 10 Strike King Co-Anglers

1. Steven Bale – 35 – 09 (13) – $33,500

2. Bryan Barnard – 33 – 05 (15) – $5,000

3. Matthew Hargarten – 30 – 09 (12) – $4,000

4. Scott McCleery – 30 – 03 (11) – $3,700

5. Nathan Christie – 27 – 04 (11) – $3,000

6. Steve Gregg – 26 – 08 (10) – $2,650

7. Tate Brumnett – 26 – 01 (13) – $2,000

8. Bobby Dennison – 24 – 10 (10) – $1,750

9. Matt Krekovich – 24 – 00 (9) – $1,500

10. Jason Clark – 23 – 13 (10) – $1,250

Complete Results