Thursday, July 25, 2024

O’Connell Posts Second Career Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event at Clarks Hill


Boater winner Matt O’Connell of Brooks, Georgia, and Strike-King co-angler winner Braxton Spurlin of Ellenboro, North Carolina.
North Carolina’s Spurlin Tops Strike King Co-Angler Division

APPLING, Ga. (June 24, 2024) – Boater Matt O’Connell of Brooks, Georgia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Clarks Hill . Hosted by Visit Columbia County, Georgia, the tournament was the fourth event of the season for the BFL South Carolina Division. O’Connell earned $6,805, including the lucrative $2,500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

O’Connell fished a Savannah River Division tournament on Clarks Hill a week prior and found some fish on brush piles. This time around, he realized the schools had set up a little bit shallower. He kicked the day off throwing a topwater.

“I used a CAST The OG to get a key fish early – a 4-pounder,” he said. “Last week, my biggest fish was like 3 1/2. Then I just kind of mixed in various other blueback baits; other topwaters, flukes, stuff like that. Basically, I caught most of my weight before 8 o’clock in the morning and then continued catching a bunch of other fish throughout the day, but they were mostly 1- to 2-pounders.”

A big boating event on the lake presented some challenges for O’Connell’s offshore bite in the middle of the day because he had to work around a lot of extra traffic. Thankfully, his first spot produced that 4-pounder, and his second put out a 4½  and 3¾ .

“My initial spot was a shallow hump,” he said. “There was a ton of bluebacks moving through. The fish would school around you off and on. The second spot wasn’t a hump. It was just a long point.”

After he left those areas, O’Connell targeted brush piles. The shining spot in the afternoon was a key cull that came with 45 minutes remaining. He was able to gain about a half-pound, giving him a solid cushion over second place.

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Matt O’Connell, Brooks, Ga., five bass, 18-0, $6,805 (includes $2,500 Phoenix MLF Continency Bonus)
2nd:       Aspen Martin, White, Ga., five bass, 16-15, $1,753
3rd:       Jason Burroughs, Hodges, S.C., five bass, 15-10, $1,169
4th:        Norm Attaway, Clearwater, S.C., five bass, 15-1, $1,258
5th:        Hunter Eubanks, Landrum, S.C., five bass, 15-0, $672
5th:        Logan Mills, Chapin, S.C., five bass, 15-0, $672
7th:        Joe Anders, Easley, S.C., five bass, 14-15, $584
8th:        Jeffrey Borne, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 14-9, $526
9th:        Tyler Campbell, Martin, Ga., five bass, 14-6, $438
9th:        Jeff Coble, Manson, N.C., five bass, 14-6, $438

Complete results can be found at

Norm Attaway of Clearwater, South Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $440.

Braxton Spurlin of Ellenboro, North Carolina, won the Strike King co-angler division and $1,753 Saturday, after bringing four bass to the scale that totaled 11 pounds, 14 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:        Braxton Spurlin, Ellenboro, N.C., four bass, 11-14, $1,753
2nd:       Wayne Smelser, Wytheville, Va., five bass, 9-14, $876
3rd:       Ross Doolittle, Greenwood, S.C., five bass, 9-13, $585
4th:        Riley Smallwood, Shallotte, N.C., five bass, 9-7, $509
5th:        Trent Killian, Bostic, N.C., five bass, 8-11, $351
6th:        Carter Jefferies, Mount Pleasant, S.C., five bass, 8-4, $321
7th:        Jacob Yaden, Evans, Ga., five bass, 8-1, $442
8th:        Rodney Tapp, Inman, S.C., five bass, 7-12, $263
9th:        Kevin Henderson, Honea Path, S.C., five bass, 7-8, $219
9th:        Dale Ball, Asheville, N.C., four bass, 7-8, $219

Travis Ruff of Connelly Springs, North Carolina, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $220, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 11 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After four events, Joe Anders of Easley, South Carolina, leads the Fishing Clash South Carolina Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 955 points, while Trent Killian of Bostic, North Carolina, leads the Fishing Clash South Carolina Division Co-Angler of the Year race with 952 points.

The next event for BFL South Carolina Division anglers will be held Sept.7-8, at Lake Murray in Prosperity, South Carolina. 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, PowerStop Brakes, 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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