Boater Kirk Smith of Edmond, Oklahoma and Strike-King co-angler Buck Blackwell of Pine Bluff, Arkansas.
Pine Bluff’s Blackwell Wins Strike King Co-Angler Division
RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (Oct. 3, 2022) – Boater Kirk Smith of Edmond, Oklahoma, caught 10 bass weighing 27 pounds, 8 ounces, to win the two-day MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Dardanelle in Russellville, Arkansas. The tournament, hosted by Russellville Advertising and Promotion, was the fifth and final regular-season event for the Bass Fishing League Arkie Division. Smith earned $6,367 for his victory.
“I’m pretty familiar with Dardanelle and started running all of my old stuff,” said Smith, who notched his second win on Lake Dardanelle in MLF competition. “I was running down the lake and noticed there were a lot of shad on the main lake and not a lot in the backwaters. So, I started targeting little pockets off the main river that had the shad, where I think bass were hanging out to ambush them.”
Smith said he relied on a vibrating jig and a square-bill crankbait in three to four feet of water in the mid- to upper-Dardanelle area to catch his bass. He targeted laydowns or brush on both days of competition, but admits fishing was tougher on Sunday.
“I caught 20 to 25 fish during the tournament,” Smith said. “About 15 of those were keepers. Fishing got a lot tougher for everybody on Day 2. Saturday there was a little bit of wind, but there was none on Sunday.
“This win feels fantastic,” Smith added. “I really love to win multiple-day events because it shows you were on something really strong instead of just a one-day fluke.”
The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st: Kirk Smith, Edmond, Okla., 10 bass, 27-8, $6,367
2nd: Eugene Moore, III, Little Rock, Ark., 10 bass, 22-11, $2,816
3rd: Shonn Goodwin, Moore, Okla., 10 bass, 21-7, $2,177
4th: Jason Lieblong, Conway, Ark., 10 bass, 20-13, $1,314
5th: Chris Huselton, Conway, Ark., nine bass, 20-5, $1,126
6th: Kevin Brown, Hot Springs, Ark., nine bass, 19-15, $1,933 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF5 contingency bonus)
7th: Blake Martin, Dardanelle, Ark., 10 bass, 19-0, $939
8th: Brandon Lee, Ratcliff, Ark., 10 bass, 17-7, $845
9th: Aaron Mize, Clarksville, Ark., nine bass, 17-3, $751
10th: Derrick Damon, Clarksville, Ark., eight bass, 16-14, $657
Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Smith also caught a bass weighing 5 pounds, 7 ounces – the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division – to earn the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $735.
Buck Blackwell of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, won the Strike King Co-angler Division and $3,116 Sunday after catching a two-day total of eight bass weighing 19 pounds, 6 ounces.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
1st: Buck Blackwell, Pine Bluff, Ark., eight bass, 19-6, $3,116
2nd: Reagan Brown, Hot Springs, Ark., six bass, 13-12, $1,775
3rd: Jonathan Simms, Hot Springs, Ark., seven bass, 12-2, $941
4th: Don Billiot, Hot Springs Village, Ark., five bass, 12-0, $657
5th: Cody Mangrum, West Memphis, Ark., five bass, 11-10, $563
6th: Corey Ruff, Jacksonville, Ark., four bass, 11-9, $516
7th: John Foster Case, Clarksville, Ark., eight bass, 11-6, $469
8th: Ryan Glenn, Mansfield, Ark., four bass, 11-3, $422
9th: Randy Allen, Russellville, Ark., six bass, 9-11, $375
10th: Jonathan Dotson, Dover, Ark., five bass, 9-4, $329
Reagan Brown of Hot Springs, Arkansas, caught the largest bass in the Strike King Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 5 pounds, 2 ounces. The catch earned him the Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $367.
With the regular season now complete, boater Kevin Brown of Hot Springs, Arkansas, won the 2022 Bass Fishing League Arkie Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with a five-event total of 1,337 points to earn the $1,000 boater AOY award. Andrew Wooley of Little Rock, Arkansas, won the 2022 Strike King Co-Angler Arkie Division AOY race with 1,307 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 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 Regionals 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.