Boater Matt Ells of Shell Knob, Missouri and Strike-King co-angler Dustin Maxwell of Fairway, Kansas.
Kansas’ Maxwell Bests Field of Strike King Co-Angler Anglers

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (Sept. 26, 2022) – Boater Matt Ells of Shell Knob, Missouri, caught 10 bass weighing 35 pounds, 7 ounces, to win the two-day MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. The tournament, hosted by the Tri-County Lodging Association, was the fifth and final regular-season event for the Bass Fishing League Ozark Division. Ells earned $10,749 for his victory.

“I caught everything pitching a jig under and inside docks,” Ells said. “The deepest fish I caught was probably six feet deep. The key was swimming the jig instead of hopping it.”

Ells said Saturday was a struggle for him, as he had only two fish in the livewell with 20 minutes left to fish. He pulled up to a group of docks where he had lost three bass in last year’s Super Tournament. He caught four bass there and culled a 12-inch Kentucky bass to finish the first day of competition.

Ells said he used the same plan of attack Sunday in the Osage River area, and he caught 12 keepers on the final day of competition. Ells said a Jewel Baits football-head jig provided the action needed to entice bites. He used a 1/2-ounce jig for most of his fish but switched to a ¾-ounce size when he targeted larger docks with longer casts where fish were holding in three feet of water.

“There are so many legends that fish Lake of the Ozarks,” Ells said. “To even compete with those guys and make it to the final day is an accomplishment. My goal going into this was just to make the cut. I’m just so humbled. I just can’t believe I could catch enough fish to win the tournament.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:

1st:          Matt Ells, Shell Knob, Mo., 10 bass, 35-7, $10,749
2nd:        Dion Hibdon, Versailles, Mo., 10 bass, 32-14, $4,196
3rd:        Adam Boehle, Warrenton, Mo., 10 bass, 32-10, $2,798
4th:         James Dill, Sunrise Beach, Mo., 10 bass, 32-0, $2,158
5th:         Chris Macy, Diamond, Mo., 10 bass, 30-5, $1,678
6th:         Paul Davis, Battlefield, Mo., 10 bass, 29-5, $1,539
7th:         Lawson Hibdon, Versailles, Mo., 10 bass, 29-4, $1,399
8th:         Casey Scanlon, Eldon, Mo., 10 bass, 29-3, $1,259
9th:         Payden Hibdon, Versailles, Mo., 10 bass, 28-3, $1,119
10th:      Brad Jelinek, Lincoln, Mo., 10 bass, 27-12, $1,479 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF5 contingency bonus)

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Ells also caught a bass weighing 5 pounds, 1 ounce – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – to earn the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $1,357.

Dustin Maxwell of Fairway, Kansas, won the Strike King Co-angler Division and $4,196 Sunday after catching a two-day total of seven bass weighing 19 pounds, 8 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:

1st:          Dustin Maxwell, Fairway, Kansas, seven bass, 19-8, $4,196
2nd:        Max Weigel, Shawnee, Kansas, five bass, 19-5, $2,098
3rd:        Jeff Moss, Oronogo, Mo., seven bass, 17-5, $1,847
4th:         Chris Bunk, Sullivan, Mo., eight bass, 16-2, $979
5th:         Mark Horton, Clinton, Mo., eight bass, 15-15, $839
6th:         Oliver Siebert, Fenton, Mo., eight bass, 15-5, $769
7th:         Caleb Welch, Bolivar, Mo., five bass, 14-1, $699
8th:         Jake Stras, Las Vegas, Nev., six bass, 13-11, $629
9th:         Jo Cook, Marble Hill, Mo., five bass, 13-7, $559
10th:      Jeremy Greil, Imperial, Mo., six bass, 13-1, $490

Jeremy Flynn of Liberty, Missouri, caught the largest bass in the Strike King Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 5 pounds, 15 ounces. The catch earned him the Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $679.

With the regular season now complete, boater Cole Breeden of Eldridge, Missouri, won the 2022 Bass Fishing League Ozark Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with a five-event total of 1,231 points to earn the $1,000 boater AOY award. Jeff Moss of Oronogo, Missouri, won the 2022 Strike King Co-Angler Ozark Division AOY race with 1,194 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. 20-22 Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on Grand Lake in Grove, Oklahoma. Boaters will compete 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 fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The 2022 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Regional Championships 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 Phoenix Bass Fishing League 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 MLF Toyota Series, the pathway to the MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.

Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, AFTCO, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Revital Outdoors, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X, YETI and Yo-Zuri.

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.