Pennsylvania’s Gray Earns First Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event at Potomac River

Boater Daniel Gray of Butler, Pennsylvania and Strike-King co-angler Kevin Jones of Mount Holly, New Jersey. 
New Jersey’s Kevin Jones Tops Strike King Co-Angler Division

MARBURY, Md. (May 20, 2024) – Boater Daniel Gray of Butler, Pennsylvania, caught a five-bass limit weighing 17 pounds, 5 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on the Potomac River . Hosted by the Charles County Board of Commissioners, the tournament was the first event of the season for the BFL Northeast Division. Gray earned $10,926, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

Prior to the tournament, Gray checked the “usual spawning areas” and determined that this phase of the spawn was pretty well finished.

“Usually they go in shallower to spawn where the grass is a little bit more sporadic,” he said. “But as soon as they pull out of there, there’s so much grass this year, it’s so thick, that they just start dispersing through that, and it’s hard to find them.”

It’s also hard to catch them. Topwater and flipping can pull big fish out of thick grass, but Gray had a different strategy.

“I had to find some areas where the grass wasn’t totally topped out yet. That and some hard cover,” he said.

He was able to locate a couple such areas in practice. The key was being able to work a moving bait over the top of the grass.

“My main thing was a square-bill crankbait,” Gray said. “That’s what I fished all the grass and some of the hard cover with. And I did some flipping with a (Zoom) Speed Craw and threw a drop-shot.

“The square bill I was throwing over the grass. I was feathering it through, and I had to hold my rod high. It was just kind of a feel thing. I tried to tick the top of the grass so it wasn’t burying into it.”

Gray used a Strike King KVD 1.5 square-bill. Popping it off the tops of the grass helped trigger reaction bites.

“(Another key was) knowing when to get to the grass when the current was moving,” Gray added. “When it died off I ran and did other things. I ran up into a creek and fished where there was still a little bit of current – just staying in some moving water.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:         Daniel Gray, Butler, Pa., five bass, 17-5, $10,926 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd:        Christopher Sanno, Landisburg, Pa., five bass, 16-14, $1,963
3rd:         Robert Grike, Dumfries, Va., five bass, 16-10, $1,309
4th:         Brian Mullaney, Ijamsville, Md., five bass, 15-14, $850
4th:         Zachary Borger, Brodheadsville, Pa., five bass, 15-14, $1,380
6th:         Doug Jenkins, Saint Leonard, Md., five bass, 15-11, $720
7th:         Gary Marean, Manassas, Md., five bass, 15-8, $654
8th:         John Baranik, Earleville, Md., five bass, 15-5, $589
9th:         Rick Anderson, Dover, Pa., five bass, 14-15, $523
10th:       Ryan Bauman, Reading, Pa., five bass, 14-13, $458

Complete results can be found at

Zachary Borger of Brodheadsville, Pennsylvania, caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $530.

Kevin Jones of Mount Holly, New Jersey, won the Strike King co-angler division and $1,963 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 16 pounds, 5 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:         Kevin Jones, Mount Holly, N.J., five bass, 16-5, $1,963
2nd:        Billy Micciulla, Toms River, N.J., five bass, 14-13, $981
3rd:         Jesse Ketchum, Columbia, Md., five bass, 14-12, $655
4th:         David Williams, Fredericksburg, Va., five bass, 13-14, $708
5th:         Kade Wesner, Lancaster, Pa., five bass, 13-9, $393
6th:         Andrew Hostler, Tyrone, Pa., five bass, 13-8, $360
7th:         Keyshawn Bratcher, Altamonte Springs, Fla., five bass, 13-5, $327
8th:         Patrick Stansbury, Westminster, Md., five bass, 12-15, $294
9th:         Lenny Baird, Stafford, Va., five bass, 12-14, $262
10th:       Christopher Dam, Staatsburg, N.Y., five bass, 12-11, $229

Nathan Routzahn of Myersville, Maryland, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $265, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 9 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

The next event for BFL Northeast Division anglers will be held June 29, at Lake Oneida in Brewerton, New York. To register for the event as a boater or a co-angler, visit or call (270)-252-1000.

The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the region based on point standings, along with the five tournament winners of each qualifying event, will qualify for the Oct. 3-5 BFL Regional tournament on Kerr Lake in Henderson, North Carolina. Boaters will fish for a top award of $60,000, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro with a 200-horsepower Mercury or Suzuki 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 or Suzuki outboard.

The 2024 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.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine include: 7Brew, Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, BUBBA, E3, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, General Tire, GSM Outdoors, Lew’s, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, REDCON1, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, WIX Filters 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.