Batesville’s Pieper Frogs His Way to the Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event at Lake Dardanelle

Mountainburg’s Vanourny Tops Strike King Co-Angler Division

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. (June 10, 2024) – Boater Richard Pieper of Batesville, Arkansas, caught a five-bass limit weighing 18 pounds, 15 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Dardanelle. Hosted by Russellville Tourism, the tournament was the fourth event of the season for the BFL Arkie Division. Pieper earned $4,009 for his victory.

Pieper caught his fish the way every bass angler wants to catch them in early summer – on a frog.

“I was fishing shallow-water weeds, probably anywhere from 2 1/2 feet or less,” he said. “All my fish that hit the scales were on a frog. I had to have current. It had to be around current-based weeds where there was a little bit of flow through the weeds.”

Snag Proof Bobby’s Perfect Frog was Pieper’s go-to. He said he spent the tournament in “what you would call the river part” of Lake Dardanelle.

“It was either just on the main river or just off the main river, in the heavier flow of current,” he said.

The fish came from a mix of grass. It really didn’t matter the type, just as long as it was close to the bank and being hit by current.

“I probably caught 50 or 60 fish today,” Pieper said. “I would probably say 75 percent of those fish were on a frog. I fished the same pattern all day. A lot of them (that he weighed in) came on probably a 300-yard stretch. I had eight different areas I caught fish on, but three of the big ones came on that stretch.

“My last cull was probably in the last hour and a half of the day. I caught another one over 4 (pounds). It was one of those days I couldn’t do anything wrong.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Richard Pieper, Batesville, Ark., five bass, 18-15, $4,009
2nd:       Mike Rhinehart, Pottsville, Ark., five bass, 18-1, $2,005
3rd:       Kirk Smith, Edmond, Okla., five bass, 17-4, $1,336
4th:        Blake Anschultz, Newport, Ark., five bass, 17-2, $1,485
5th:        Cloys Warren, Tuckerman, Ark., five bass, 16-11, $802
6th:        Sawyer Grace, Russellville, Ark., five bass, 15-15, $1,035
7th:        Matt Hamby, Little Rock, Ark., five bass, 15-14, $668
8th:        Chris Huselton, Conway, Ark., five bass, 15-8, $601
9th:        Reid Prescott, Little Rock, Ark., five bass, 15-4, $535
10th:     Ethan Stokes, Dover, Ark., five bass, 14-10, $468

Complete results can be found at

Blake Anschultz of Newport, Arkansas, caught a bass that weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $550.

Stephen Vanourny of Mountainburg, Arkansas, won the Strike King co-angler division and $2,005 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 14 pounds, 1 ounce.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:        Stephen Vanourny, Mountainburg, Ark., five bass, 14-1, $2,005
2nd:       Kelly Shamlin Jr., Benton, Ark., five bass, 12-15, $1,002
3rd:       Jonathan Dotson, Dover, Ark., five bass, 12-11, $668
4th:        Alan Bernicky, Joliet, Ill., four bass, 12-0, $993
5th:        Stephen Simms, Hot Springs, Ark., four bass, 11-12, $401
6th:        Mike Flory, London, Ark., five bass, 11-1, $368
7th:        Kelvin Trotter, North Little Rock, Ark., five bass, 10-6, $334
8th:        Clayton Self, Mabelvale, Ark., five bass, 10-3, $301
9th:        Randy Allen, Russellville, Ark., five bass, 10-1, $267
10th:     Isaiah Vickers, Sherwood, Ark., five bass, 9-9, $234

Alan Bernicky of Joliet, Illinois, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $275, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 13 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After four events, Chris Darby of Hot Springs, Arkansas, leads the Fishing Clash Arkie Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 952 points, while Jonathan Dotson of Dover, Arkansas, leads the Fishing Clash Arkie Division Co-Angler of the Year race with 946 points.

The next event for BFL Arkie Division anglers will be held Sept. 21-22, at Bull Shoals Lake in Bull Shoals, Arkansas. 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. 17-19 BFL Regional tournament on Wright Patman Lake in Texarkana, Texas. 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 FacebookInstagram, and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 17 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.