UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Thompson Storms Back on Chesapeake Bay

Thompson Storms Back on Chesapeake Bay
Joseph Thompson

The T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Regional on the Chesapeake Bay was defined by flip-flopping weights and a big cold front whose strong winds forced the cancelation of day two of the event. Instead of fishing two days and cutting the field for the final day, the competitors from the Buckeye, North Carolina, Northeast and Shenandoah divisions all fished for just two days. Coming from 25th on day one with 10 pounds, 7 ounces, Joseph Thompson of Coatesville, Pa., captured the win and earned his first BFL All-American qualification with 19-2 on day two for a total of 29-9. For the win, Thompson earned $66,000 for his efforts, including a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

Despite extensive experience on the upper Chesapeake Bay, Thompson didn’t get on much in practice. Though he found some cranking fish on the final day, that quickly fell apart on him when the tournament started. Because much of the upper Bay and the Susquehanna River was blown out and muddy, the North East River was crowded with most of the field and he couldn’t squeeze in anywhere to fish.

“Around 12 o’clock I made a gamble to go up the North East Creek,” says Thompson. “There was a big laydown tree, and there were a couple people fishing it already, but there was just enough room for another boat. I stayed there for the remainder of the day and I caught five fish on a drop-shot. I had never once in my life thrown a drop-shot on the upper Bay.”

After weigh-in, Thompson was emboldened despite only weighing 10 pounds and change. The fishing had been so tough that a good bag on day two might still put him in the top six and send him to the All-American.

“On the final day I started to get a little excited before I even got to the river,” says Thompson.  “The guys that got them on day one, I thought they were going to struggle. When I put the trolling motor in the water I saw the temperature had dropped like 8 or 9 degrees. And immediately I rigged two rods completely different just because of that.

“I had 100 spots on the North East River, but I’ve got a few spots where I know big fish live and live in groups,” says Thompson. “I said to myself then that I was going to fish places where I knew big fish lived. I figure if I could get five bites I could make the All-American.”

Thompson says he started Saturday with a small grub and a ¼-ounce ball head near a pier. Instead of targeting the actual pilings, he fished secondary pieces of cover nearby and scrounged two keepers to start his limit.

Later, as the tide started to go out, Thompson moved to a current-focused area at the outside of a marina. Using Spot-Lock to hold himself, he drifted a 5-inch green pumpkin-colored Yamamoto Senko with a 1/16-ounce weight through a current-swept area that was about 13 feet deep. That area produced another three fish to finish his limit.

“My last one came with 10 minutes to go,” says Thompson. “Driving back, I thought I really had a shot at the top six, but I didn’t think I had a shot to win.”

As it turned out, he did win. After falling off his roof and separating his shoulder, Thompson had to fish the Northeast Division Super Tournament at the 1000 Islands in a sling just to make the Regional. All of a sudden, after a massive comeback day, he was headed to a win and the All-American.

“I finished seventh place in a Regional before and it was the longest ride home from a fishing tournament I’ve ever had in my life,” says Thompson. “I’ve heard about the All-American from everyone that’s been there, and now it’s my time. I certainly don’t want to sound cocky, but there are two places where I feel I have a chance of beating anybody, and that’s the upper Bay and the Potomac. It don’t mean much when you’re fishing against 48 of the other best anglers in the country, but it certainly won’t hurt.”

 

Baker drops to second

Ronnie Baker of Providence Forge, Va., lead the whole shooting match with the biggest bag of the event on day one. Unfortunately for Baker, lost fish and the luck of the draw dropped him to second when it was all said and done.

“I was basically fishing a marina in the North East River, but there was one small specific spot inside the marina,” says Baker. “On day one I was boat 10, so I got the exact spot I wanted in the marina. I think seven other boats came in there, and it was really tight, but they watched me catch them. On day two I was boat 148, so I knew somebody was going to end up going there.”

Baker swapped between a shad-colored Rapala DT 4 and a green pumpkin Zoom UltraVibe Speed Craw on a ¼-ounce Texas rig to rustle up 19-10 on day one. Other than a 4-pounder caught flipping a stretch of docks elsewhere in the river, he was dependent on that marina spot.

Going out in a late flight on the final day, he didn’t get it.

“I kinda beat around the edges of the marina and at 11 o’clock I didn’t have any fish,” says Baker. “So, I went to a section of docks where I caught the 4-pounder and didn’t catching anything there. Then I went to a rocky bank where I caught some in practice and I caught one. Then I left, didn’t catch any and then I came back again and caught one.”

After leaving the rocky bank one more time, he returned for good with a couple hours left. Cranking the DT 4, he landed two more keepers and hooked and lost two others. One fish that he didn’t see, and one 4-pounder that jumped off. With just four fish on the second day for 7-7, Baker totaled up 27-1 for second place.

“I knew when I lost that 4-pounder that was big,” says Baker, who had transitioned from thinking about winning to thinking about making the top six at that point. “I looked at my co-angler and said ‘That’s gonna hurt.’ It stung a little bit, but $10,000 eases it a little bit. This will be my second All-American, the first time was at Wilson Lake, this time is going to suit me a little bit better being that it’s two hours from home.”

 

Bae makes good on last-minute call

Unable to fish the final Shenandoah Division event of the year because his boat was literally stuck in the mud in his backyard, Moo Bae of West Friendship, Md., wrapped up the season 62nd in points and only got the call to come fish when another angler dropped out. That was the Tuesday before the tournament, so he had about a day to prepare. After a frantic practice, Bae weighed a limit of 14-3 on day one and four bass for 11-15 on day two for a 26-2 total and second place.

Bae started strong on day one, and says he caught 10 keepers in total.

“I pulled up to my first spot and I ended up catching a nice 4-pounder and a 3-pounder off one laydown,” says Bae. “Then I went into another creek and found like 13 or 14 boats inside there. I couldn’t figure out if I could go past them or just turn around and go somewhere else. But I didn’t have many other places, so I stayed in that creek until I caught my limit.”

After leaving the crowded creek, Bae caught another 3-pounder off wood in the main section of the North East River to top his day off. Flipping a Junebug-colored Zoom Brush Hog with a ¼-ounce weight for all his fish, Bae was in prime position after day one.

After waiting out the front on Friday, Bae’s flipping bite fizzled on the final day.

“The water temperature dropped about 7 degrees in my area,” says Bae. “I pulled up to my first spot, and I ended up catching a 3-pound smallmouth, actually on that same laydown, but nothing else was there. Then I went back into that creek to try to catch a limit, and I didn’t see any boats in there and the water got completely mudded up. So, I turned around and went back out.”

After running more shallow wood with no results in the North East River, Bae pulled up to a rock bank around 1 o’clock. After his co-angler caught a few fish, he hunkered down with a 5/16-ounce jig and a Strike King Rage Craw (both green pumpkin) and dragged it in about 10 feet of water on the drop. His co-angler filled out his limit, and Bae caught a 5-pounder and a pair of keepers – plenty to keep him in the cut for the All-American.

“I’ve had several chances to make the All-American, and my goal was to make the All-American at least once,” says Bae. “I’m super psyched to make the All-American. I’m very fortunate that FLW called me at the last minute to fish this tournament.”

 

Top 10 boaters

(The top six boaters qualify to fish the 2019 BFL All-American.)

1. Joseph Thompson – Coatesville, Pa. – 29-9 (10) $66,000

2. Ronnie Baker – Providence Forge, Va. – 27-1 (9) $10,200

3. Moo Bae – West Friendship, Md. – 26-2 (9) $5,100

4. Ryan Bauman – Fleetwood, Pa. – 25-13 (10) –  $3,000

5. Chris Martinkovic – Hamilton, Ohio – 25-12 (10) – $2,000

6. Steven Wiseman – Bryans Road, Md. – 25-6 (10) – $1,800

7. Dave Lauer – McConnelsville, Ohio – 25-3 (9) – $1,600

8. Jon Werner – Nazareth, Pa. – 24-10 (10) – $1,400

9. Otis Darnell – Linden, Va. – 24-9 (10) – $1,200

10. Ryan Powroznik – Hopewell, Va. – 24-8 (10) – $1,000

Complete results

 

Bahnweg takes top co-angler spot

Michael Bahnweg of Union Dale, Pa., caught four fish on day one for 9-5 and a limit for 13-1 on day two for a total of 22-6. That was enough to earn him his third BFL win and a new Ranger Z518C boat with a 200-horsepower Evinrude outboard.

Fishing behind Mervin Miller on day one, Bahnweg says they stayed in the North East River and targeted shell beds. He caught his fish on a 4-inch Zoom Fish Doctor on a  Charlie Brewer Slider Head.

Day two was the big day for Bahnweg, and he did it fishing behind Christopher Helfer. Running down into the Elk River, Helfer and Bahnweg fished a shallow grass flat with current all day and Bahnweg did work with a white Z-Man Original ChatterBait.

Bahnweg has fished 115 tournaments with FLW, most of them at the BFL level, but this is the first time he’s ever qualified for the All-American.

“I’ve been fishing BFLs since they started, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” says Bahnweg. “The Potomac is my favorite body of water, I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

 

Top 10 co-anglers

(The top six co-angler qualify to fish the 2019 BFL All-American.)

1. Michael Bahnweg – Union Dale, Pa. – 22-6 (9) – $45,000

2. William Allie – Wynantskill, N.Y. – 21-9 (8) – $5,200

3. Henry McKee – Haddon Heights, N.J. – 18-8 (10) – $2,550

4. Michael Nelms – Hartwood, Va. – 17-15 (8) – $1,500

5. Howard Smith – Hamilton, Ohio – 17-11 (6) – $1,000

6. David Williams – Fredericksburg, Va. – 17-6 (5) – $900

7. Matthew Cozad – Okeana, Ohio – 17-4 (7) – $800

8. Mike Geisler – Oxford, Ohio – 16-12 (8) – $700

9. Cort Gardner – Jessup, Md. – 16-10 (8) – $600

10. Michael Duarte – Baltimore, Md. – 16-1 (7) – $500

Complete results

 

Tags: jody-white  headline-story  2018-10-11-chesapeake-bay 

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Top 10 Baits from Lake Martin

Bites were easy to come by at Lake Martin. It was getting the quality bites that separated the field. READ MORE »

Abram’s Dream Comes True

Abram’s Dream Comes True

All week on Lake Martin for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit the weights have been close, so it was only fitting that the final weigh-in followed suit. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 4 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 4 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Abram One Day Away

Abram One Day Away

Day three of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin was a bit tougher for the 30 pros on the water, and while quality has been tough to come by all week, that was especially the case today READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 3 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 3 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Abram Out Front on Martin

Abram Out Front on Martin

Same story, different day on Lake Martin for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit. When it comes to catching fish, Martin is on fire at the moment. However, just like on day one, big bites are tough to come by on the Alabama fishery. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 2 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 2 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin in Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

Adams Leads at Martin

Adams Leads at Martin

Catching fish wasn’t going to be the issue for the third stop of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on Lake Martin and after day one that certainly was the case. With the entire field catching a limit, the weights are stacked with a little over 4 pounds separating 100th and 10th. Finding a Lake Martin kicker was Barron Adams, who sacked 17 pounds, 2 ounces to take the lead – thanks in large part to his 8-13 Berkley Big Bass. Just 15 ounces back is Derrick Snavely and the weights tighten up a lot from there. READ MORE »

Lake Martin Day 1 Coverage

Lake Martin Day 1 Coverage

Complete coverage of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit's third stop at Lake Martin kicks off a day early from Alexander, Ala. READ MORE »

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Martin

FLW Live Leaderboard - Lake Martin

FLW media staff provide unofficial weight estimates for the third stop of the 2020 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin. READ MORE »

FLW Shifts Start Date at Lake Martin

FLW Shifts Start Date at Lake Martin

FLW announced today that this week’s Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event at Lake Martin, originally scheduled to start Thursday, has been shifted and will now begin competition Wednesday. Hosted by the Alexander City Chamber, the tournament will remain a four-day event and will now run through Saturday. This decision is based on a desire to allow pros, who began practicing for the tournament March 15, to safely complete the event and return home as quickly as possible amid evolving COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. READ MORE »

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Top 10 Baits and Patterns from Havasu

Results from the Toyota Series Western Division event at Lake Havasu probably didn’t surprise any Western anglers who are familiar with the fishery. For folks in other parts of the country that might only have followed FLW’s early February events on the Colorado River reservoir, the tournament results might have opened some eyes to just how good the fishing can be on Havasu. Particularly on day one, the lake delivered, kicking out 12 limits of more than 20 pounds, including Tai Au’s limit of 26 pounds, 1 ounce. The success on day one resulted from a perfect storm of conditions for catching spawning bass on beds.  READ MORE »

Dice Gets it Done on Smith Mountain

Dice Gets it Done on Smith Mountain

Jack Dice of Lynchburg, Virginia, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 22 pounds even to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston, Virginia. For his victory, Dice earned a total of $5,246. READ MORE »

Steckler Claims Ozark Title

Steckler Claims Ozark Title

Cory Steckler of Rocky Mount, Missouri, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 18 pounds, 7 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine event at Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. For his victory, Steckler earned a total of $13,457, including the lucrative $7,000 FLW PHOENIX Bonus contingency award. The victory was the second win of Steckler’s FLW career. READ MORE »

Helton Wins on Dale Hollow

Helton Wins on Dale Hollow

Brett Graham of Cold Spring, Kentucky, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 18 pounds, 11 ounces to win the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Mountain division opener at Dale Hollow Reservoir in Byrdstown, Tennessee. For his victory, Graham earned a total of $6,000. READ MORE »

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Top Patterns and Baits from Okeechobee

Though the total weights didn’t live up to some expectations, the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee was still a lot of fun. The weather was great, there were plenty of fish caught the first two days, and there was a truly dramatic race for the win on the final day. READ MORE »

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Au Finishes Strong at Lake Havasu

Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., weighed in a five-bass limit worth 16 pounds, 15 ounces today to finish off a wire-to-wire win at the Toyota Series Western Division season opener on Lake Havasu. Au’s three-day total was 61-3.  READ MORE »

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Niles Goes Back-To-Back

Hailing from Ocean Springs, Miss., Andy Niles has now won on Okeechobee two years in a row. In 2019, he picked up the win in the Southeastern Division event on Okeechobee, and this year he got the win in the second Toyota Series Southern Division event of the year. Weighing a total of 44 pounds, 7 ounces, Niles takes home a new Phoenix bass boat for his efforts. Friday was Niles’ son Cooper’s 8th birthday, and though he’s probably not going to get the boat for a present, he’ll at least get a very happy dad. READ MORE »

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Medlock Brings it Home on Big O

Weighing the biggest limit of the final day worth 19 pounds, 4 ounces, Brandon Medlock locked up his third Toyota Series title in the Southern Division event on Lake Okeechobee. With 54-4 overall, Medlock won comfortably and was essentially the only pro to put together two very good days of fishing, with a 13-9 catch on day one as his worst day. READ MORE »

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

Okeechobee Midday Update – Day 3

The final day of the Toyota Series Southern Division event on Okeechobee is proving to be just as tense as expected. With the entire top 10 less than 4 pounds apart, anything can happen, and it’s entirely possible that someone in ninth or 10th catches a big bag to come from behind. READ MORE »