The second weekend in September saw seven more T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) divisions conclude their seasons with two-day Super Tournament events. From the Tennessee River to the St. Lawrence River and a few places in between, here’s a quick look at how the seven events were won.
Jim Leary of Guntersville, Ala., sacked up 37 pounds, 12 ounces en route to his first FLW victory and a check worth more than $5,800.
To win the event, which was presented by Cortland Line, Leary fished grass mats between South Sauty and Goose Pond. Scraping together a modest limit of 16-9 on day one to put him in fifth, Leary figured he could climb the ranks on day two.
“The TVA was only pulling 12,000 (cubic feet per second) on day two, so I went to my spots where I knew the fish didn’t need the current to turn on,” Leary says.
Sure enough, he switched gears to flip deeper, submerged grass on day two and caught one pushing 7 pounds and another 5-pounder in the same patch. He’d weigh the biggest limit of the event on day two (21-3) and easily take the W by over 4 pounds.
The local guide kept his bait choice simple. A Castaic BD Frog helped him cover water quickly around matted vegetation, and when he needed to flip, he reached for a NetBait Paca Craw rigged on a 1 1/4-ounce tungsten weight.
Billy Schroeder notched the sixth victory of his career – all from the LBL Division – over the weekend, but this was his first in a Super Tournament. The Paducah, Ky., boater weighed just seven bass over two days for a total weight of 22-12. Not only did this victory help Schroeder add some hardware to the shelf, but it beefed up his bank account with over $6,000 in winnings.
Utilizing his years of knowledge on the famed fishery, Schroeder ran brush piles almost exclusively throughout the event. A 9/16-ounce green pumpkin jig with a Zoom Salty Pro Chunk was all Schroeder needed to get the job done.
“It’s old-school fishing,” says Schroeder. “It’s the way I like to fish, and it’s the way I’ve been fishing all my life. Once I got in the meat of the brush pile, I kept my jig in them as long as I could, and if I didn’t get bit, I went on to the next one.”
In what could be a good precursor of things to come in this week’s Costa FLW Series event on the St. Lawrence River, Zackery Seal of Findley Lake, N.Y., hauled in 44-4 worth of smallmouths in the Northeast Division finale, which was presented by Gajo Baits, to claim his first victory and a check for $6,000.
“It was just standard stuff – I was fishing from 20 to 40 feet around rocks, and I found an area that had some big ones,” says Seal. “I only lost one fish both days, so that was good. Those smallmouths get your heart pumping when they show themselves and then turn and go right back down.”
Seal stayed in the St. Lawrence, which paid off considering the wind blew on day one. A drop-shot did all of the damage, which Seal paired with a green pumpkin Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm with either a 3/8- or 1/2-ounce weight.
Another veteran angler adding BFL trophies to the mantle is Roger Fitzpatrick of Eldon, Mo. This was Fitzpatrick’s seventh title in the Ozark Division – presented by Bassing Bob – and he did it with a total weight of 36-3, which also gave him a check worth nearly $7,000.
Calling Lake of the Ozarks home, Fitzpatrick was dialed in on a one-two punch of fishing docks early and then transitioning out to the ledges.
“The deeper ledge fish were the key,” Fitzpatrick says. “They were bigger, but they didn’t bite in the morning – it had to be later in the day. It also takes heavy boat traffic for me to catch them, so I had to be patient and not go to the ledge fish too soon. Those morning docks ended up giving me some very key fish.”
Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C., scored the fourth Super Tournament win of his career with a total of 31-6 on Hartwell and cashed a cool $5,600 for his efforts. The win also brings his career total to 10 victories, and ties him No. 6 all-time for most BFL Boater victories.
Opting to stay tight-lipped due to the Regional on Hartwell in just a few weeks, Rampey admitted he caught most of his fish on a topwater.
“This time of the year, the fish are doing a certain thing, and I know where the bigger ones set up for that topwater deal,” Rampey explains. “Everyone does it, but I know that the bigger ones get into certain places. The biggest factor for me in this one was my Lowrance graphs. I was able to pick out those very specific places that I wanted to fish.”
With two wins in the Piedmont Division already this season, Bryan Elrod of Mechanicsville, Va., went ahead and grabbed the Super Tournament W for the Shenandoah Division with a two-day total of 29-7. He earned $3,500 for his victory and brought his season winnings to nearly $13,000.
“I started each morning making the 45-minute run down to Chickahominy Creek, then I’d work my way back up with the low tide,” says Elrod, who earned his fifth career BFL victory – third this season. “I was flipping a green pumpkin Zoom Brush Hog and throwing a 4- to 6-foot diving crankbait around wood. I probably caught around seven or eight keepers each day.”
John Murray of Spring City, Tenn., took the honors in the Volunteer Division Super Tournament with 28-11 over two days and added another $7,300 to his career earnings – which push over $1 million.
“Saturday was awesome; I think I caught around 15 to 20 keepers,” Murray says. “Both my co-angler and I had great days – he ended up winning as well. Sunday was tough, though. I only boated five keepers, and my co-angler only boated two. Luckily, it was enough for us to both get the wins.”