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BASS Report

2023 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The 2023 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation schedule features five opportunities for grass-roots anglers to battle some of the country’s best bass fisheries. Each regional championship will provide opportunities for everyday anglers to qualify for the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Championship and a shot at one of three berths in the 2024 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.

“As we’ve seen in the past with anglers like 2010 B.A.S.S. Nation champion and two-time Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk and Taylor Smith, who represented the Nation with a Top 10 finish at the 2022 Classic, the B.A.S.S. Nation can be a fantastic opportunity for weekend anglers to fish for big money on a big stage or the gateway to a stellar career in professional fishing,” said B.A.S.S. Vice President of Tournaments Chris Bowes. “All of these anglers are going to have the opportunity to compete on fantastic and historic fisheries. We’re proud to offer three Nation anglers the opportunity to compete in the iconic Bassmaster Classic, where anything is possible.”

The schedule will kick off next spring with the Central Regional on the Arkansas River in Muskogee, Okla., May 3-5. The fishery, known for its variety of structure, has hosted a dozen major B.A.S.S. events, including two Bassmaster Classics and, most recently, a 2020 Bassmaster Open.

After a stop at Douglas Lake in Jefferson County, Tenn., May 24-26 for the Southeast Regional, the schedule will swing to the upper region of the United States in June with the Northeast Regional on the Potomac River in Charles County, Md., June 7-9 and the Northern Regional June 28-30 on Lake Winnebago in Fox Cities, Wis.

By Louie Stout

Bo Thomas

Bo Thomas says he’s following his dad’s footsteps into the Bassmaster Open Tournament Trail.

But this isn’t quite the same as what pops Mickey faced when he fished the Bassmaster Opens years ago.

Son Bo…at age 24…has visions of making the Bassmaster Classic and qualifying for the Bassmaster Elites. He will have to do it against a very, very strong field and a tougher format in B.A.S.S.’s newly designed Open Elite Qualifiers (EQ) Division.

“I’m 100 percent in,” Thomas said this week. “I have the sponsors and support from family and friends. This is everything I’ve been working for ever since my dad fished these events.”

Under the old format, you could fish three Opens, do well and make it to the Classic and potentially qualify for the Elites.

Under the EQ format, win an Open and you get a Classic invite, but you must fish all nine EQs and do well enough to qualify for one of the nine invitations B.A.S.S. grants into the Elite Series the next following season.

Entry fee is $1,800 per event and 175 anglers have signed up. Thomas, who graduated from Western Michigan University and was president of the school’s college bass team, will be banging heads with some of the country’s best anglers.

For example, former Classic qualifiers Ish Monroe and Bobby Lane, who left B.A.S.S. three years ago to fish the fledgling Pro Bass Tour (MLF), are entered in the Open EQs with hopes of getting back to the Classic and Elites.

Bo Thomas

Other veterans Bo will be fishing against include Tennessee pro Brad Knight, the 2015 Forrest Wood Cup champion along with a string of former Elites, including Destin DeMarion, Charlie Hartley, Dale Hightower, Harvey Horne, Shane Lineberger, Yusuke Miyazaki, Kyle Monti, James Niggemeyer, Garrett Paquette and Casey Scanlon.

Does he find that intimidating?

“Not really,” said Thomas. “I’m just excited to see the level of competition. I got to fish against a lot of good anglers at the collegiate level and I’ve done pretty well fishing out of state. I know a lot of the veteran pros and it’s going to be cool to fish against guys that my dad once fished against.”

2023 Opens Elite Qualifiers Field:
 
Alabama 
                    
Clayton Barnes, Clanton, AL
Bailey Boutries, Mobile, AL
Jon Canada, Helena, AL
Cody Detweiler, Guntersville, AL
Tom Frink, Southside, AL
Sam George, Athens, AL
Wesley Gore, Clanton, AL
Zeke Gossett, Pell City, AL
Nikki Jo Hatten, Clanton, AL
Logan Johnson, Jasper, AL
Jake Maddux, Birmingham, AL
Joey Nania, Cropwell, AL
Tripp Noojin, Bryant, AL
Logan Parks, Auburn, AL
Griffin Phillips, Mount Olive, AL
J T Russell, McCalla, AL
Caiden Sinclair, Logan, AL
Trey Swindle, Cleveland, AL
Brady Vernon, Sterrett, AL
                       
Arizona 
                     
Phil Killian, Solomon, AZ
Julius Mazy, Phoenix, AZ
 
Arkansas 
                   
Evan Barnes, Dardanelle, AR
Greg Bohannan, Bentonville, AR
Scout Echols, Monticello, AR
Harvey Horne, Bella Vista, AR
Jason Lieblong, Conway, AR
                                   
California
                   
Ish Monroe, Oakdale, CA
                       
Colorado 
                   
Jason Carpenter, Castle Pines, CO
Tyrel Faber, Pagosa Springs, CO
                       
Delaware 
                   
Kurt Mitchell, Milford, DE
                       
Florida 
           
Darrell Davis, Dover, FL
Tim Frederick, Leesburg, FL
Josh Hubbard, Dunnellon, FL
Teb Jones, Yalaha, FL
Scott Kerslake, Okeechobee, FL
Chris Kingree, Inverness, FL
Bobby Lane, Lakeland, FL
Brandon McMillan, Clewiston, FL
Jason Meninger, Yulee, FL
Ricardo Mitchell, Naples, FL
Kyle Monti, Okeechobee, FL
Christian Shoda, Crystal River, FL
Blake Smith, Lakeland, FL
Mike Surman, Boca Raton, FL
Daniel Valois Gomez, Coral Springs, FL
 
Georgia 
                     
Josh Bragg, Fayetteville, GA
Allen Brooks, Canton, GA
Tony Dumitras, Winston, GA
Matt Henry, Milledgeville, GA
Justin Kimmel, Athens, GA
James Meers, Rome, GA
Jesse Millsaps, Jasper, GA
Logan Shaddix, Cummings, GA
Cody Stahl, Barnsville, GA
                                   
Idaho 
             
Kyle Gelles, Pingree, ID
                       
Illinois 
           
Tyler Lubbat, Wheeling, IL
Trevor McKinney, Benton, IL
Trey McKinney, Carbondale, IL
A.J. Menssen, Bloomington, IL
                       
Indiana 
                      
Billy McDonald, Greenwood, IN
                       
Iowa 
              
Chancy Walters, West Des Moines, IA
                       
Kentucky 
                   
Chris Beaudrie, Princeton, KY
Danger Kelly, Somerset, KY
Bobby Lanham, Eddyville, KY
Lafe Messer, Warfield, KY
Matt Messer, Warfield, KY
Tommy Williams, Shepherdsville, KY
                       
Louisiana 
                   
Jim Dillard, West Monroe, LA
Alex Heintze, Denham Springs, LA
Bronk McDaniel, Alexandria, LA
Alex Murray, Lake Charles, LA
Clark Reehm, Elm Grove, LA
Blake Sylvester, Plaquemine, LA
B.J. Usie, Bourg, LA
                       
Maine 
            
Tyler Williams, Belgrade, ME
                       
Maryland  
                 
Brian Mullaney, Ijamsville, MD
Reece Tremaglio, Dunkirk, MD
                       
Michigan 
                   
Buck Mallory, Lawton, MI
Garrett Paquette, Canton, MI
Paul Tabisz, Whitmore Lake, MI
Bo Thomas, Edwardsburg, MI
                       
Minnesota 
                  
Denny Fiedler, Wabasha, MN
Chad Grigsby, Maple Grove, MN
Brad Leuthner, Independence, MN
Keith Tuma, Brainerd, MN
                       
Mississippi 
                 
Keith Brumfield, Vicksburg, MS
Jerry Riddle Jr., Summit, MS
                       
Missouri  
                   
Casey Scanlon, Eldon, MO
                       
Nebraska 
                   
Brock Belik, Orchard, NE
                       
New York
                   
Zach Goutremout, Chaumont, NY
Kyle Patrick, Cooperstown, NY
                       
North Carolina  
                     
Logan Anderson, Catawba, NC
Jeremy Bogard, Wilkesboro, NC
Craig Chambers, Midland, NC
Shane Lineberger, Lincolnton, NC
Louis Monetti, Charlotte, NC
Brayden Rakes, Winston Salem, NC
                       
Ohio 
              
Willy Dennison, Willoughby Hills, OH
Charlie Hartley, Grove City, OH
                       
Oklahoma 
                  
Sterling Bougher, Mannford, OK
Austin Cranford, Norman, OK
Dale Hightower, Mannford, OK
Allan Nail, Sand Springs, OK
Matt Pangrac, Bixby, OK
Steve Tennison, Lexington, OK
Chad Warren, Sand Springs, OK
                       
Pennsylvania  
            
Destin DeMarion, Harborcreek, PA
Jonathan Dietz, Corry, PA
Joe Labarbera, Montrose, PA
                       
South Carolina 
          
Kyle Austin, Ridgeville, SC
Chris Blanchette, Charleston, SC
Cole Drummond, Effingham, SC
Derek Lehtonen, Woodruff, SC
Matt Mollohan, Batesburg, SC
Lance Owen, Greer, SC
Jacob Thompkins, Myrtle Beach, SC
JT Thompkins, Myrtle Beach, SC
Timmy Thompkins, Myrtle Beach, SC
                       
South Dakota 
             
Kenny Mittelstaedt, Sturgis, SD
                       
Tennessee 
                  
Jason Abram, Piney Flats, TN
Miles Burghoff, Dayton, TN
John Garrett, Union City, TN
Robert Gee, Knoxville, TN
Chris Keeble, Lenoir City, TN
Brad Knight, Lancing, TN
Jason Lambert, Savannah, TN
Jacob Pyles, Nolensville, TN
Hunter Sales, Blaine, TN
Jaxon Sullivan, Reagan, TN
Jimmy Washam, Stantonville, TN
Taylor Watkins, Clinton, TN
David Wootton, Collierville, TN
Kenji Yamada, Hixson, TN
                       
Texas 
             
Paul Browning, Pecos, TX
Shaine Campbell, Brookeland, TX
Brett Cannon, Willis, TX
Richard Cathey, San Antonio, TX
Hugh Cosculluela, Spring, TX
Joey Hanna, Corsicana, TX
Andrew Hargrove, Moody, TX
Andrew Harp, Linden, TX
Scott Isaacs, Ladonia, TX
Terry Luedtke, Burton, TX
Mike Mayo, Athens, TX
Ben Milliken, New Caney, TX
Yusuke Miyazaki, Forney, TX
James Niggemeyer, Van, TX
Danny Ramsey, Trinidad, TX
Marc Schilling, Carrollton, TX
Steve Sennikoff, Edgewood, TX
Bart Stanisz, Wichita Falls, TX
Jimmy Steed, Zapata, TX
Jack Tindel, Orange, TX
Andrew Upshaw, Hemphill, TX
Jack York, Emory, TX
                       
Vermont 
                    
Steve Morella, Townshend, VT
 
Virginia  
                    
Chase Clarke, Virginia Beach, VA
Jack Dice, Lynchburg, VA
David Perdue, Wirtz, VA
Jason Tibbetts, Centreville, VA             
                       
West Virginia             
Wil Dieffenbauch, Morgantown, WV
Brandon Tallhamer, Parkersburg, WV
                       
Wisconsin 
                  
Jacob Bigelow, Cecil, WI
Kyle Goltz, Cornell, WI
Brian Post, Janesville, WI
Adam Rasmussen, Sturgeon Bay, WI
                       
Canada  
                     
Paul Bouvier, Kingston, Ontario
Jamie Bruce, Kenora, Ontario
Ryan Clark, Whitby, Ontario
Evan Kung, Pickering, Ontario
Danny McGarry, Newcastle, Ontario
                       
Japan 
             
Seiji Kato, Otsu, Shiga
Kenta Kimura, Hirakata, Osaka
Daisuke Kita, Otsu, Shiga
Takayuki Koike, Otsu, Shiga

Polar Bear Open Report

Steve Kline and Aaron Likens - 1st Place

The final Polar Bear Opens bass tournament brought high winds and low temps but the home team of Steve Kline and Aaron Likens pulled off the win.

Kline and Likens had 14.57 pounds, anchored by a 4.30 pounder that won them the big bass pot. They fished jigs and blade baits to win $270 for first and $80 for big bass.

Tournament Director Lee Duracz said several fish were caught in 8 feet or less which was shallower than most anglers expected. Weather likely limited the field to eight boats.

Scott and LeeAnn Sizemore - 2nd Place

Second place went to Scott and LeeAnn Sizemore with 12.52 pounds. They used blade baits and Ned rigs.

Polar Bear Report

Jeremy Bunnell and Lee Duracz - 1st Place

Jeremy Bunnell and Lee Duracz captured another Polar Bear victory, winning on the St. Joseph River at 6 Span last weekend.

The winners ($500) had 8.76 pounds with for 4 overs. They caught all their fish in the main river channel around isolated cover in 12-17 feet. Most of the fish came on Ned Rigs, but they caught a few on blade baits and A-rigs. They said they lost a lot of fish as well.

Jake Otto and girlfriend Kylla Vaillancourt - 2nd Place

Second place ($250) went to Jake Otto and girlfriend Kylla Vaillancourt with the only true limit of 4 overs and 1 under that weighed 8.70 pounds.