Saturday, July 13, 2024

Palatka’s Stalvey Probes Home-Waters to Win at Two-Day Phoenix Bass Fishing League Super Tournament on the St. Johns River


Boater Lee Stalvey of Palatka, Florida, and Strike-King co-angler David White of Winter Garden, Florida.
Winter Garden’s White Tops Strike King Co-Angler Division

PALATKA, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2023) – Boater Lee Stalvey of Palatka, Florida, caught 10 bass weighing 43 pounds, 6 ounces, to win the two-day MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida. The tournament, hosted by the Putnam County Tourist Development Council, was the fifth and final regular-season event for the Bass Fishing League Gator Division. Stalvey earned $6,362 for his victory.

“I went south the first day,” Stalvey said. “It went good, but it didn’t pan out like I’d planned. I had a big group of fish found, but I only caught one fish out of it. So, I didn’t feel really confident about going back to them.

“So, I went north this morning and stayed close to the ramp, but went to a ton of places,” Stalvey continued. “I was just checking different shell beds, docks and seawalls. I’ve fished this place for 35 years, so there’s tons of places I know. I ended up getting a couple of lucky big bites.”

Stalvey said he fished a variety of baits and techniques, including topwater in the morning, crankbaits, a Carolina rig, and a big worm. Stalvey said he hooked a large bass, an 8-pound, 3-ounce largemouth, that changed his outlook on the event.

“That fish really changed the ballgame,” Stalvey said. “I was rolling down the river and said, ‘You know what, I had some fish here in practice.’ There had been boats all over the spot Saturday, and then on Sunday nobody was there. I saw fish on the spot, and they were good ones. It hit my third cast with a ChatterBait. It was the only bite I got on a ChatterBait.”

Stalvey’s son, Parker, finished third in the tournament, and Stalvey said that fact made the win even more special for him.

“I’d been saying all along I’d love for him to win and for me to finish second,” Stalvey said.

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament in:
1st:          Lee Stalvey, Palatka, Fla., 10 bass, 43-6, $6,362
2nd:        Lonnie Cercy, Middleburg, Fla., 10 bass, 39-14, $3,181
3rd:        Parker Stalvey, Green Cove Springs, Fla., 10 bass, 39-8, $2,122
4th:         Austin Black, East Palatka, Fla., 10 bass, 39-4, $1,485
5th:         Tracen Phillips, Lake Placid, Fla., 10 bass, 33-11, $1,272
6th:         Ryan Crowley, Fleming Island, Fla., 10 bass, 31-8, $1,166
7th:         Joey Bloom, Winter Springs, Fla., 10 bass, 31-2, $1,560 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
8th:         Aaron Yavorsky, Palm Harbor, Fla., 10 bass, 28-13, $954
9th:         Cliff Prince, Palatka, Fla., 10 bass, 28-13, $848
10th:      Allen Hopper, San Mateo, Fla., 10 bass, 28-13, $742Complete results can be found at

Earl Garcia of Tampa, Florida, had a bass that weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces that was the heaviest of the event in the Boater Division and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $900.

David White of Winter Garden, Florida, won the Strike King Co-angler Division and $3,631 Sunday after catching a two-day total of seven bass weighing 24 pounds, 1 ounce.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers were:
1st:          David White, Winter Garden, Fla., seven bass, 24-1, $3,631
2nd:        Garrett Gomes, Dunnellon, Fla., eight bass, 23-3, $1,591
3rd:        Pat Herolt, Citrus Springs, Fla., 10 bass, 22-7, $1,061
4th:         Tyler Lewis, Geneva, Fla., six bass, 17-2, $742
5th:         Rodney Yavorsky, Palm Harbor, Fla., 10 bass, 16-11, $636
6th:         Luke Cocke, Valdosta, Ga., six bass, 16-5, $783
7th:         Dean Haughey, Babson Park, Fla., seven bass, 16-1, $530
8th:         Doug Back, Monticello, Fla., eight bass, 13-5, $627
9th:         Ben Arnold, LaFollette, Tenn., seven bass, 13-2, $424
10th:      Chris Westhelle, Sanford, Fla., eight bass, 13-0, $371White also caught the largest bass in the Strike King Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 8 pounds even. The catch earned him the Berkley Big Bass Co-angler award of $450.

With the regular season now complete, boater Brandon Medlock of Lake Placid, Florida, won the 2023 Bass Fishing League Gator Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with a five-event total of 1,254 points to earn the $1,000 boater AOY award. Tyler Nekolny of Coral Springs, Florida, won the 2023 Strike King Co-Angler Gator Division AOY race with 1,305 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. 12-14 Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. Boaters will fish 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 compete for a top award of $50,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The 2023 Phoenix BFL Presented by T-H Marine is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 events throughout the season, five qualifying tournaments in each division. The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five qualifying event winners, will advance to one of six BFL Regional tournaments 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 BFL 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 Invitationals and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, General Tire, Grundéns, Gill, Lew’s, Lowrance, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Mystik Lubricants, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.

For complete details and updated tournament information, visit For regular Bass Fishing League updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

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