SENECA – Mick Rhinehart of Pelzer weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 7 ounces on Feb. 1 to win the first Walmart Bass Fishing League Savannah River Division tournament of 2014 on Lake Keowee. For his victory, Rhinehart earned $4,315.
Rhinehart caught a gigantic 8-pound largemouth to anchor the only bag over 15 pounds and his first BFL win.
“I went pre-fishing the weekend before and I found a little stretch of bank that had nothing but largemouth on it,” said Rhinehart. “I went there first thing in the morning and the fish had obviously stayed there. I caught one that was about 2 pounds on my second cast, and a couple casts later I caught that big one.
“She was up in about 4 feet of water on the edge of a little break,” continued Rhinehart. “It really helped get me relaxed and ready to go for the rest of the day. I caught my other fish off little stretches of rocky banks. I only had that one little stretch that held largemouth, though.
“The day started off cold and partly cloudy with a little bit of wind,” finished Rhinehart. “Around 10 o’clock it got pretty cloudy, and I didn’t catch much after that.”
Rhinehart said that he caught all his keepers on a homemade umbrella rig with four blades that he slow-rolled. He emphasized that fishing it slowly was key; simply chunking and winding it didn’t get the job done.
Rounding out the top 10 pros were:
2nd: Randy Childers, Anderson, five bass, 13-5, $2,157
3rd: Brad Benfield, Demorest, Ga., five bass, 13-4, $1,439
4th: Chris Baxter, Winder, Ga., five bass, 12-8, $1,007
5th: Daniel Atkins, Seneca, five bass, 12-7, $863
6th: Cliff Tilley, Marietta, five bass, 11-13, $791
7th: Todd Goade, Lawrenceville, Ga., 10-8, $719
8th: Vince Smith, Westminster, five bass, 10-7, $647
9th: Brian Tidwell, Seneca, five bass, 10-0, $575 + $300 Evinrude Bonus
10th: John Nixon, Anderson, five bass, 9-14, $503
Co-angler Johnny Hancox of West Union, S.C., won the Feb. 1 Savannah River Division event on Lake Keowee with five bass weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces. He took home $2,157 for his efforts.
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:
2nd: Scott Gardner, Seneca, five bass, 10-6, $1,079
3rd: Anthony Marks, Spartanburg, three bass, 7-4, $717
4th: Dean McDonald, Greer, two bass, 6-12, $503
5th: Chris Nunziato, Elberton, Ga., two bass, 6-11, $431
6th: Tim Garvin, Greenville, four bass, 6-10, $396
7th: James Akins, Cumming, Ga., three bass, 6-5, $360
8th: Larry Ivester, Seneca, three bass, 5-11, $324
9th: Charles Pruitt, Greenwood, four bass, 5-10, $288
10th: Bryan Cothran, Belton, two bass, 5-9, $252
The top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers based on point standings will qualify for the Oct. 9-11 Regional Championship on Lake Cherokee in Morristown, Tenn. Boaters will compete for a top award of a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy Silverado, while co-anglers will fish for a new Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division.
The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy.
The 2014 BFL All-American is being held June 5-7 on Wilson Lake in Florence, Ala. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the Rayovac FLW Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.