Spawning Bass And Bluebacks Key To Lake Hartwell BFL Win

MLF Press Release | April 17, 2024

The 2024 Lake Hartwell BFL winner winner was Brian Tidwell (left), of Seneca, S.C., and the Strike King co-angler winner was Chris Wilson ,of Easley, S.C.

Brian Tidwell, of Seneca, S.C., caught a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds even Saturday to win the Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Hartwell. Hosted by the City of Lavonia, the tournament was the third event of the season for the BFL Savannah River Division. Tidwell earned $3,684 for his victory.

For Tidwell, the winning strategy revolved around the spawn and … the spawn. That’s the bass spawn and the blueback herring spawn.

“I just tried to look for spawning bass and also points that had the herring spawning on them,” he said. “I started out on some herring spawn points, and it was kind of slow. I went to the bank and caught one of the spawners that I’d located from the day before (during pre-fish). And I kind of leap-frogged back and forth between the herring spawn points and spawning fish and culled up throughout the day.”

Tidwell said he caught eight or nine keepers. He might’ve caught more fish had one giant bass not eluded him for so long. Tidwell caught a 6-pounder – the day’s Berkley Big Bass – off a bed, and saw another fish that was even bigger hanging with it.

“I probably worked on it (the bigger fish) for four hours,” he said, but he never could get that fish to bite.

Tidwell’s keepers came on a watermelon red Zoom Brush Hog when he was sight-fishing and a three-wire Alabama rig when he was targeting bass feeding on blueback herring. A final key, he said, was to search for overlooked points where the herring were spawning, which helped him avoid some of the fishing pressure.

Also, he credited the support and encouragement he received from his co-angler, Orion Hunt, for helping him to stay focused and positive throughout the day.

“That’s what it takes to win one of these things is somebody who’s positive and encouraging,” Tidwell said. “It was a neat day.”

The Top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:          Brian Tidwell, Seneca, S.C., five bass, 20-0, $3,684
2nd:        Tucker Smith, Birmingham, Ala., five bass, 17-3, $1,644
3rd:        Paul Marks Jr., Cumming, Ga., five bass, 16-1, $1,097
4th:         Derek Lehtonen, Woodruff, S.C., five bass, 15-6, $1,267 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
5th:         Buddy Benson, Dahlonega, Ga., five bass, 15-4, $658
6th:         Chris Blair, Newnan, Ga., five bass, 15-3, $603
7th:         Sammy Moody, Piedmont, S.C., five bass, 14-14, $548
8th:         Kyle Brown, Easley, S.C., five bass, 14-12, $493
9th:         Kyle Ricker, Greenville, S.C., five bass, 14-9, $438
10th:      Justin Raines, Easley, S.C., five bass, 14-3, $684

Complete results can be found at

Tidwell caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $395.

Chris Wilson of Easley, South Carolina, won the Strike King co-angler division and $1,841 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 15 pounds, 4 ounces.

The Top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:          Chris Wilson, Easley, S.C., five bass, 15-4, $1,841
2nd:        Trey Paul, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 13-0, $822
3rd:        Andy Burgess, Greenville, S.C., five bass, 12-9, $549
4th:         Russell Woodson, Jonesville, S.C., five bass, 11-14, $384
5th:         Lee Foster, Summerton, S.C., five bass, 11-10, $329
6th:         Brock Martin, Cross Hill, S.C., five bass, 11-0, $301
7th:         David Allen, Mableton, Ga., five bass, 10-11, $274
8th:         Mark Johnson, Appling, Ga., five bass, 10-9, $247
9th:         Harold Addison II, Columbia, S.C., five bass, 10-6, $469
10th:      Mark Black, La France, S.C., five bass, 10-3, $192

Wilson also earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $197, catching a bass that weighed in at 4 pounds, 4 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After three events, Joe Anders of Easley, South Carolina, leads the Fishing Clash Savannah River Division Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 713 points, while Chris Wilson of Easley, South Carolina, leads the Fishing Clash Savannah River Division Co-Angler of the Year race with 719 points.

The next event for BFL Savannah River Division anglers will be held June 15, at Clarks Hill in Appling, Georgia. 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 Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee. 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, Strike King, Suzuki, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota 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.

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