Elkhart, Indiana Pro Leads by Slim 5-Ounce Margin, Top 25 Set in the Battle for up to $235,000
BRANSON, Mo. (Nov. 3, 2023) – Anglers were faced with another day of tough fishing conditions at the 2023 Toyota Series Championship at Table Rock Lake Presented by Simms in Branson, Missouri on Friday. Pro Mike Raber of Elkhart, Indiana , brought a five-bass limit to the stage weighing 13 pounds, 11 ounces to maintain the lead after Day 2 of the long-running championship event. Raber’s two-day total of 10 bass weighing 31 pounds, 7 ounces gives him a slim 5-ounce lead over charging pro Chad Mrazek of Montgomery, Texas, who brought 17 pounds, 7 ounces to the scale – the largest bag of the day – for a two-day total of 31-2, good for second place.
Hosted by ExploreBranson.com, the championship event features more than 400 pros and co-anglers from around the world, competing for a top cash award of up to $235,000. The field is now cut to just the top 10 pros and Strike King co-anglers heading into the final day of competition, the culmination of the 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats season.
Raber said he only caught six keepers throughout the entire second day, and as the day neared its end, he had just three fish with only 25 minutes remaining in the competition day.
“Today was a lot tougher,” said Raber. “I mixed up my rotation a little bit and I honestly think that made me fish a little too quickly. I rotated a lot, and it just wasn’t really happening for me this morning – I didn’t catch a keeper for more than two hours.
“As the day went on, I started to get back in the groove. I caught a few to build some momentum and got a few good bites at the end to save me.”
The Indiana native said he spent the day doing a lot of the same things he did on the first day of competition, but conditions were rapidly changing throughout the day.
“I’m basically running two different patterns – I’m doing some of the LiveScope stuff, just like everybody else. That is how I caught a lot of my bigger fish, but I’ve also mixed it up with some shallow-water patterns,” said Raber. “I’m just flying by the seat of my pants at the moment and don’t really know where my next bite is coming from, so I’m trying to stay on my toes and have things ready to go.”
Although Raber had hoped to have a better understanding of the fishery and the patterns the fish were running after the second day of competition, he said he ended the day just as confused as he was on Day 1 of the championship event.
“I’ve been on this lake for almost a week now, but I still can’t really figure out a rhyme or reason as to why the fish are biting in one area and not in another,” said Raber. “I’ll think I’ve crossed a spot off, then the next day that same spot will be firing. It was like that in practice for me too. So, I could pull up on the right section tomorrow and get it done, or we could stumble really bad, like it felt like we were about to do this morning.”
Raber said he weighed in four largemouth and a spotted bass on Day 2 of the event.
“I caught a couple bass on one pattern and the rest on a second pattern,” said Raber. “Going into the final day, I’m not really sure what I’m better off spending my time on. When it’s right, it’s very obvious what I should be doing, but when I do that for a couple hours and don’t catch anything, I feel like I’m wasting time.
“That’s really the balance I’ve got to find tomorrow if I’m going to survive and do well at all,” Raber continued. “It’s going to be a struggle, but I definitely feel optimistic, and this is a great opportunity. It’s not often that you get to go fish one full day with $200,000 on the line, so I’m super pumped. The possibility of me catching enough to win is definitely there, but it will not come easy.”
The top 10 pros that advanced to the final day of competition on Table Rock Lake are:
1st: Mike Raber of Elkhart, Ind., 10 bass, 31-7
2nd: Chad Mrazek of Montgomery, Texas, 10 bass, 31-2
3rd: Colby Miller of Elmer, La., 10 bass, 30-13
4th: Travis Harriman of Huntsville, Ark., 10 bass, 30-8
5th: Drew Gill of Mount Carmel, Ill., 10 bass, 30-4
6th: Jeremy Gordon of Rutledge, Tenn., 10 bass, 30-1
7th: Emil Wagner of Marietta, Ga., 10 bass, 30-0
8th: Jacob Walker of Springville, Ala., 10 bass, 29-4
9th: Christian Ostrander of Turlock, Calif., 10 bass, 28-11
10th: Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 28-8
For a full list of results visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 564 bass weighing 1.387 pounds, 2 ounces caught Friday. The catch included 72 five-bass limits.
Levi Allgeier of Bardstown, Kentucky, leads the Strike King co-angler division with seven bass weighing 16 pounds, 7 ounces, followed by Will Lancett of Jacksonville, Arkansas , who weighed in six bass totaling 15 pounds, 10 ounces, to secure his second-place position. Strike King co-anglers are competing for a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers that will fish the final day on Table Rock Lake are:
1st: Levi Allgeier of Bardstown, Ky., seven bass, 16-7
2nd: Will Lancett of Jacksonville, Ark., six bass, 15-10
3rd: Zack Barrera of Morriston, Fla., six bass, 15-10
4th: Al Hopkins of Pendleton, Ind., seven bass, 14-12
5th: Justin Curnutte of Grove, Okla., seven bass, 14-10
6th: Brett Robbins of Solvang, Calif., seven bass, 14-1
7th: Morgan White of Jasper, Texas, six bass, 13-6
8th: Casey McCommons of Ina, Ill., six bass, 13-4
9th: David Matual of Chicago, Ill., six bass, 12-12
10th: James Fender of Hanahan, S.C., five bass, 12-0
The final 10 pros and Strike King co-anglers will take off Saturday at 7:30 a.m. CT from Table Rock State Park Marina, located at 380 State Park Marina Road, in Branson. Saturday’s Championship weigh-in will also be held at the marina and will begin at 3:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend the daily takeoffs and weigh-ins and also follow the action online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com. The 2023 Toyota Series Championship Presented by Simms will premiere on CBS Sports in 2024.
The full field of anglers competed on Days 1 and 2 of the event, with the top 10 pros and top 10 Strike King co-anglers based on cumulative weight from the first two days continuing to the third and final day on Saturday. The 2023 Toyota Series champions will be determined by the heaviest three-day total weight.
Pros and co-anglers can qualify for multiple contingency awards based on final standings in the championship, including the lucrative $35,000 Phoenix MLF Bonus for pros. The winning Strike King co-angler will earn a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The 2023 Toyota Series Presented by Phoenix Boats consisted of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division and the Wild Card. The highest finishing pro from each division at the championship will claim a $10,000 bonus. The bonus will go to the second-highest finishing pro in the division represented by the overall champion.
The 2023 Toyota Series Championship field features the top 25 pros, top 25 Strike King co-anglers and tournament winners from each of the six divisions; the top 25 pros and 25 co-anglers from the Wild Card division plus tournament winners; the highest finishing boater and co-angler from each of the six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine Regionals and the TBF at the All-American; the top three teams from the College Fishing National Championship; High School Fishing National Champions; TBF National Champions; and MLF International anglers from Canada, Central Europe, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Namibia, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Zimbabwe.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular Toyota Series updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.