Harrison Township’s Mandel Posts First Career Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event at Detroit River

Indiana’s Oliver Tops Strike King Co-Angler Division

TRENTON, Mich. (July 1, 2024) – Boater Nolan Mandel of Harrison Township, Michigan, caught a five-fish limit of smallmouth bass weighing 24 pounds, 11 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on the Detroit River . The tournament was the first event of the season for the BFL Michigan Division. Mandel earned $10,964, including the lucrative $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus, for his victory.

Mandel spent his tournament fishing the Canadian waters of Lake St. Clair.

“The fish are really spread out still,” he said. “It got warm early this year, and there’s still fish shallow with the mayfly hatch. Covering a lot of water was really the key. I caught them on a drop-shot with a (Berkley PowerBait) MaxScent Flat Worm.”

On St. Clair, covering water doesn’t necessarily mean running and gunning. Mandel kept his trolling motor in the water most of the day, only pulling it up five or six times to move. Instead of running, he eased around on the trolling motor, throwing at isolated patches of grass. He says he was focusing on “getting away from the people and finding the little sneaky places off of the famous areas.”

The area that Mandel fished is one where he felt he could consistently catch 4-pound-class fish, but he tried to focus on keeping an open mind and not getting too “locked into” any waypoints.

“I kind of knew spots to let it unfold in the tournament,” he said. “I basically practiced in the tournament. I’ve been shooting myself in the foot getting locked into areas. I really just wanted to let it drift and expect the big bites to come. There were times I’d go 45 minutes without catching a fish and then catch 10 within 10 minutes. It was kind of like that all day.”

In addition to the drop-shot, Mandel caught a few fish on a Ned rig. He also caught one of his final five keepers on a swimbait.

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:        Nolan Mandel, Harrison Township, Mich., five bass, 24-11, $10,964 (includes $7,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
2nd:       Heath Wagner, Angola, Ind., five bass, 24-5, $1,757
3rd:       Brayden Federer, Adrian, Mich., five bass, 22-2, $1,172
4th:        Dan Mittlestat, Woodhaven, Mich., five bass, 21-3, $1,120
5th:        Charlie Land, Coatesville, Ind., five bass, 20-5, $703
6th:        Cody Kelley, Plainwell, Mich., five bass, 19-4, $615
6th:        Drake van Dike, Livonia, Mich., five bass, 19-4, $615
8th:        Noah Stauffer, Gowen, Mich., five bass, 18-14, $527
9th:        Jonathon Dewey, Fort Gratiot, Mich., five bass, 18-13, $469
10th:     Rob Kelley, Rockwood, Mich., five bass, 17-14, $410

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Mandel caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $450.

Kade Oliver of Muncie, Indiana, won the Strike King co-angler division and $1,757 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 21 pounds, 3 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:        Kade Oliver, Muncie, Ind., five bass, 21-3, $1,757
2nd:       Gabriel Fishlock, Cincinnati, Ohio, five bass, 19-13, $1,104
3rd:       Craig Fanning, Elwood, Ill., five bass, 17-5, $585
4th:        Terry Bucciarelli, Ypsilanti, Mich., five bass, 17-3, $660
5th:        Tommy Pritchard, Bargersville, Ind., five bass, 16-12, $351
6th:        Grant Hatfield, Wadsworth, Ohio, five bass, 16-9, $322
7th:        Scott Davis, Morenci, Mich., five bass, 16-6, $278
7th:        Nicholas Yeung, Simcoe, Ontario, five bass, 16-6, $278
9th:        Sage Uhes, Farmington Hills, Mich., five bass, 16-4, $234
10th:     Doug Bradley, Syracuse, Ind., five bass, 16-1, $205

Gabriel Fishlock of Cincinnati, Ohio, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $225, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 12 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

The next event for BFL Michigan Division anglers will be held July 13, at Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan. To register for the event as a boater or a co-angler, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com 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. 10-12 BFL Regional tournament on the Mississippi River Pools 13-17 in Quad Cities, Illinois. 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 MajorLeagueFishing.com. 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.