Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Georgia Boater Paul Marks Jr. Takes Lead into Final Day of Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American at Cherokee Lake


Savannah River Division boater catches 13-pound, 6-ounce limit to take 2-pound, 10-ounce lead, final 10 boaters and co-anglers set for Championship Friday

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. (May 30, 2024) – Day 1 of the Major League Fishing (MLF) Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American Presented by T-H Marine was tough, and Day 2 was even tougher. Limits are a big achievement on Lake Cherokee this week, and a 12-pound bag can rocket an angler up the leaderboard at an astonishing rate.

With the Day 1 leaders faltering, Paul Marks, Jr., of Cumming, Georgia, tallied 13 pounds, 6 ounces to jump up to a 26-1 total, which gives him an edge of more than 2 pounds over Dillon Falardeau of Hixson, Tennessee , who weighed 12-2 on Day 2 to bring his total to 23-7. While that’s a commanding lead mathematically for Marks, the way the lake is fishing probably won’t allow anyone to sleep easy.

The final 10 boaters and Strike King co-anglers are now set, and competition will resume tomorrow morning on Championship Friday. The three-day tournament, hosted by Visit Jefferson County TN, showcases the nation’s best weekend grassroots anglers, and awards the winning boater a top prize of up to $120,000 – and an automatic qualification into REDCREST 2025, MLF’s most prestigious event – and the winning Strike King co-angler a top prize of $50,000.

The winner of last year’s regional on Lake Eufaula and runner-up in the most recent Tackle Warehouse Invitationals stop, the 23-year-old Marks entered the event as one of the favorites. Sporting acres of screen on his rig and all the accompanying skills, the Georgia angler is again showing why he’s considered a top prospect.

Weighing exclusively smallmouth, Marks has relied on a Zoom Z-Swim in Tennessee shad, picking off smallmouth on various points all over the lake.

“I caught a few the first day — I had a really good bag the first day,” he said of practice. “The rest of practice, I pretty much drove around.”

Marks seems to know what he’s looking for, which is the presence of bass and particular structural features.

“It’s the way the islands are pointing, and the way the points are — from a contour standpoint and a current standpoint,” he said. “And, if there are stripers there, there’s no bass; if there’s bass, usually there are no stripers.”

Many local observers have expressed shock at how tough the fishing is, and Marks is surprised as well.

“I expected like 14 a day to do good, not whatever I’ve had,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve seen it this bad.  I wasn’t liking it in practice, but now I’m liking it.”

He’d really like if things hold up for one more day.

“I’d probably cry,” Marks said about the prospect of winning the All-American. “It’s a staple. It’d definitely help kickstart a career for me.”

Sitting in second and within striking distance, Falardeau charged up the leaderboard from sixth on Day 2. A full-time guide and lodge owner  at Lake Chickamauga, Falardeau is in hot pursuit of a fishing career after 10 years in the Army — so, winning the All-American would be perfect for him.

“I’ve got this one area I’ve found with a good population of fish, and I’m staying in that really small area — I don’t know if there’s enough for tomorrow,” he said. “But I do have one rock with 12, maybe 15 bass on it, and they’re all 3 pounds. I caught a 3-2 yesterday and a 3-4 today off it. Once you catch one, you can give it a couple hours, and they set back up, but I just can’t get another one off of it.”

Five off the magic rock would go a long way on Championship Friday. If Falardeau can pull it off, it’d probably be one of the first times the winning spot at the All-American was found in bed.

“The big thing on a lake like this with such a big drawdown is an app, Field Maps,” Falardeau explained. “I basically lay down in bed at night and find my spots when the lake is 30-foot low. The rock I’m fishing, I found last night laying in bed.”

Tomorrow, he knows what he’s going to do.

“Once I have my limit every day, I’ve been pulling the trolling motor and leaving and practicing,” he said. “I did that today, and it was a waste of 2 hours. I know where there’s a 16-pound bag, so I’m going to sit on it all day.”

With a little luck (or maybe a lot, considering the tough fishing), this could be a big week for Falardeau.

“[Winning the All-American] would be life-changing for me,” he said. “Being a full-time guide, leaving for a full week, I don’t get paid, and I’m scraping by. I love guiding, but this is what I want to do for a living.  This is what I’ve always wanted to do for a living, and that would give me the boost to be able to go to the next level.”

The Top 10 boaters advancing to the final day of the All-American on Cherokee Lake are:

1st:         Paul Marks Jr., Cumming, Ga., 10 bass, 26-1
2nd:        Dillon Falardeau, Hixson, Tenn., 10 bass, 23-7
3rd:         Lucas Murphy, West Columbia, S.C., 10 bass, 23-4
4th:         Brett Carnright, Plattsburgh, N.Y., 10 bass, 20-12, $500
5th:         Pete Saele, New Lenox, Ill., nine bass, 20-8
6th:         Mike Feldermann, Galena, Ill., nine bass, 20-8
7th:         Buddy Benson, Dahlonega, Ga., 10 bass, 20-2
8th:         Matt O’Connell, Brooks, Ga., 10 bass, 20-1
9th:         Jason Barnes, Concord, N.C., eight bass, 20-0
10th:       Ian Leybas, McAlester, Okla., nine bass, 19-6

Finishing in 11th through 49th are:

11th:      Eli Brumnett, Wagoner, Okla., 10 bass, 19-6, $3,000
12th:      Bradley Enfinger, Donalsonville, Ga., nine bass, 18-1, $3,000
13th:      Jacob Woods, Loudon, Tenn., eight bass, 17-2, $3,000
14th:      Roger Fitzpatrick, Eldon, Mo., seven bass, 16-14, $3,000
15th:      Jordan Hartman, Benton, Ky., eight bass, 16-6, $3,000
16th:      Jake Lee, Powell, Tenn., seven bass, 15-11, $3,000
17th:      Tyler Ivie, West Haven, Utah, six bass, 15-4, $3,000
18th:      Thomas Rallo, Eldon, Mo., six bass, 15-4, $3,000
19th:      Brian Wilson, Nancy, Ky., six bass, 15-3, $3,000
20th:      Jackie Flack, Cullman, Ala., seven bass, 14-15, $3,000
21st:      Andrew Shufelt, Peterborough, Ontario, seven bass, 14-1, $2,000
22nd:     Jim Vitaro, Wooster, Ohio, seven bass, 13-15, $2,000
23rd:      Scott Towry, Lawrenceburg, Tenn., six bass, 13-13, $2,000
24th:      Kevin Brown, Hot Springs, Ark., seven bass, 13-11, $2,000
25th:      Eldon Newcomb, Mt. Vernon, Ky., six bass, 13-9, $2,000
26th:      Isaac Peavyhouse, Jamestown,Tenn., six bass, 13-8, $2,000
27th:      Andy Newcomb, Camdenton, Mo., six bass, 12-8, $2,000
28th:      Dan Shoraga, West Frankfort, Ill., five bass, 11-1, $2,000
29th:      Donavan Carson, Bluff City, Tenn., six bass, 11-0, $2,000
30th:      Michael McMahon, Hackettstown, N.J., five bass, 10-12, $2,000
31st:      Evan Eldred, Goodrich, Mich., six bass, 10-9, $1,500
32nd:     Jeff Clark, Van Buren, Ark., four bass, 10-5, $1,500
33rd:     Vernelle Quinnie, Duncanville, Ala., five bass, 10-2, $1,500
34th:      Michael Duarte, Baltimore, Md., five bass, 9-13, $1,500
35th:      Christopher Wilder, Macon, Ga., five bass, 9-12, $1,500
36th:      Josh Lee, Powell, Tenn., four bass, 8-15, $1,500
37th:      Aspen Martin, White, Ga., four bass, 8-6, $1,500
38th:      Jason Burroughs, Hodges, S.C., four bass, 7-14, $1,500
39th:      Cody Mackie, McMinnville, Tenn., three bass, 7-12, $1,500
40th:      Austin Lawson, Charleston, Ark., three bass, 6-11, $1,500
41st:      Brandon Medlock, Lake Placid, Fla., two bass, 5-11, $1,500
42nd:     Tyler Wilson, Brooklet, Ga., three bass, 5-6, $1,500
42nd:     Aaron Yavorsky, Palm Harbor, Fla., three bass, 5-6, $1,500
44th:      Cody Carl, Lake Lotawana, Mo., two bass, 5-5, $1,500
45th:      Chris Baldwin, Lexington, N.C., one bass, 3-14, $1,500
46th:      Randy Williams, New Richmond, Ohio, two bass, 3-8, $1,500
47th:      Roger Pope, Statesville, N.C., one bass, 3-0, $1,500
48th:      Rick Funk, Middleton, Idaho, zero bass, 0-0, $1,500
48th:      Phil Smith, Orange, Texas, zero bass, 0-0, $1,500

A full list of results can be found at

Overall, there were 123 bass weighing 273 pounds, 2 ounces caught by 43 boaters Thursday. The catch included 10 five-bass limits.

Justin Parchman of Oologah, Oklahoma, brought a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 10-3 to lead the Strike King Co-angler Division at Cherokee Lake after Day 2, with a two-day total of eight bass for 17-7. Justin McGaha of Knoxville, Tennessee, sits second with 16-7, and Ashley Klaus of Thomson, Georgia, finished third with 15-4. With the weights correspondingly low on the co-angler side, Championship Friday is even less of a sure thing for the backseaters.

The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers advancing to the final day of competition at the All-American on Cherokee Lake are:

1st:          Justin Parchman, Oologah, Okla., eight bass, 17-7
2nd:         Justin McGaha, Knoxville, Tenn., seven bass, 16-7, $250
3rd:         Ashley Klaus, Thomson, Ga., seven bass, 15-4
4th:         Caleb Welch, Bolivar, Mo., seven bass, 14-8
5th:         Randy Paquette, Sarasota, Fla., six bass, 13-6
6th:         Tyler Nekolny, Coral Springs, Fla., six bass, 13-6
7th:         Pop Catalin, Cookeville, Tenn., five bass, 12-1
8th:         Jody Jones, Harvey, Ark., five bass, 11-14
9th:         Terry Laverack, Martin, S.D., six bass, 11-12
10th:       Rodney Tapp, Inman, S.C., six bass, 11-7

Finishing in 11th through 49th are:

11th:      Brian Carroll, Glencoe, Ala., six bass, 11-7, $1,500
12th:      Colby Elliott, Blairsville, Ga., six bass, 11-3, $1,500
13th:      Stacy Metz, Staley, N.C., five bass, 10-3, $1,500
14th:      Douglas Guidorzi, Fenton, Mo., five bass, 9-15, $1,500
15th:      Matthew Strickland, Portsmouth, Ohio, five bass, 9-8, $1,500
16th:      Stephen Vick, Dandridge, Tenn., five bass, 9-7, $1,500
17th:      Zion Dunaway, Campbellsburg, Ind., three bass, 9-0, $1,500
18th:      Philip James, Benton, Ark., four bass, 9-0, $1,500
19th:      Dennis Blakely, Norwalk, Ohio, four bass, 8-11, $1,500
20th:      Cody Stokes, Ooltewah, Tenn., four bass, 8-2, $1,500
21st:      Larry Elliott, Enoree, S.C., four bass, 8-1, $1,000
22nd:     Chase Fitzpatrick, Eldon, Mo., three bass, 6-10, $1,000
23rd:     Thad Hewitt, Delaware, Okla., three bass, 6-4, $1,000
24th:      Connor Kapp, Benton, Pa., three bass, 6-3, $1,000
25th:      Marcus Mann, Benton, Ky., three bass, 6-2, $1,000
26th:      William Thomas Cowart, Danielsville, Ga., three bass, 5-15, $1,000
27th:      Jerry Vitiello, Wayne, N.J., two bass, 5-13, $1,000
28th:      Kris McCarter, Pheba, Miss., two bass, 5-13, $1,000
29th:      Darren Kelly, Wartburg, Tenn., two bass, 4-14, $1,000
30th:      Bart Burford, Loose Creek, Mo., two bass, 4-9, $1,000
31st:      Bill Hockaday, Nashville, Ark., two bass, 4-7, $750
32nd:     Brian Rodriguez, Orlando, Fla., two bass, 3-14, $750
32nd:     Jeff Moss, Oronogo, Mo., two bass, 3-14, $750
34th:      Daniel Dobransky, Kuna, Idaho, two bass, 3-10, $750
35th:      James Moore Jr., Lampasas, Texas, two bass, 3-8, $750
36th:      Josh Kauffman, Marysville, Pa., one bass, 2-9, $750
37th:      Jeremiah Toliver, Las Vegas, Nev., one bass, 2-8, $750
38th:      Jonathan Ceaser, Maidens, Va., one bass, 2-5, $750
39th:      Melvin Veasey, North Little Rock, Ark., one bass, 2-2, $750
40th:      Peter Owen, Barnstead, N.H., one bass, 1-15, $750
41st:      David Williams, Fredericksburg, Va., one bass, 1-14, $750
42nd:     Lamar Oxford, Dale, Ind., one bass, 1-11, $750
43rd:     Jeremy White, Dittmer, Mo., one bass, 1-11, $750
44th:      Ross Turner, Kingston, Ga., zero bass, 0-0, $750
45th:      Ryan Legg, Parma, Ohio, zero bass, 0-0, $750
46th:      Terry Bucciarelli, Ypsilanti, Mich., zero bass, 0-0, $750
47th:      Keith Westrick, Marietta, Ga., zero bass, 0-0, $750
48th:      Luke Shrader, Monticello, Ky., zero bass, 0-0, $750
49th:      Gary Huber II, Saint Charles, Mo., zero bass, 0-0, $750

Overall, there were 80 bass weighing 157 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 35 Strike King co-anglers on Thursday. The catch included four five-bass limits.

The final 10 boaters and Strike King co-anglers will launch Friday morning at 6:30 a.m. ET from the TVA Cherokee Dam Boat Launch, located at 2805 N. Highway 92 in Jefferson City. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at the boat launch and will begin at 2:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and weigh-in events and encouraged to follow the event’s online coverage at

The MLFNOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee and Rob Newell will break down the extended action live on Championship Friday from 6:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET. MLFNOW!®  will be live streamed on and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

The full field of 49 boaters and 49 Strike King co-anglers competed on Days 1 (Wednesday) and 2 (Thursday) of the event. Now, after two days of competition, the field is cut to just the top 10 boaters and co-anglers based on two-day total cumulative weight, and the final 10 anglers compete tomorrow on Championship Friday. The boater and co-angler that catch the heaviest three-day total weight will be crowned the 41st Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Champions.

The 2023 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine was 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, advanced to one of six Regional Championships where they competed to finish in the top six, which then advanced them to compete in the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

Television coverage of the 2024 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will premiere November 16 on CBS Sports. The full television air schedule can be found at

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.

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