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Georgia’s Heaton Notches Second Lake Hartwell Win at Phoenix Bass Fishing League Event

Photo's courtesy of MLF

ANDERSON, S.C. (Feb. 26, 2024) – Boater Max Heaton of Hartwell, Georgia, caught a five-bass limit weighing 19 pounds, 10 ounces, Saturday to win the MLF Phoenix Bass Fishing League (BFL) Presented by T-H Marine on Lake Hartwell . Hosted by the Anderson Convention & Visitors Bureau, the tournament was the second event of the season for the BFL Savannah River Division. Heaton earned $3,632 for his victory.

“I practiced Friday all day and didn’t end up swinging on many, but ended up catching 21 pounds,” Heaton said. “So, I knew where some of the bigger largemouth were setting up. I knew I just had to stay around them on tournament day.”

Heaton said he began fishing up the lake near Tugaloo State Park and caught 12 pounds quickly. A relocation back down the lake produced two 5½-pounders within 15 minutes of each other. Heaton then returned to the Tugaloo area to finish his day culling bass and said he landed a total of 15 keepers during the tournament.

“I knew I had over 19 pounds at 10 o’clock – maybe even pushing 20 – but I knew I had a pretty good bag,” Heaton said. “I was fishing a Damiki rig; it was the only rod I had on my deck. I was targeting pods of bass in timber from 40 to 60 feet of water.

“This is my second BFL win on Lake Hartwell,” Heaton said, who notched his first in 2023. “Ever since I won that one, I wanted to do it again. I won it about the same time last year doing the same stuff.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament:

1st:          Max Heaton, Hartwell, Ga., five bass, 19-10, $3,632
2nd:        Dylan Atkins, Flowery Branch, Ga., five bass, 18-3, $1,816
3rd:        Derek Lehtonen, Woodruff, S.C., five bass, 18-2, $2,175 (includes $500 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus)
4th:         Jeff Culpepper, Nicholson, Ga., five bass, 17-11, $847
5th:         Tab Anderson, Pendleton, S.C., five bass, 16-13, $851
6th:         Justin Raines, Easley, S.C., five bass, 16-7, $966
7th:         Tallis Morrison, Royston, Ga., five bass, 16-2, $605
8th:         Will Hart, Danielsville, Ga., five bass, 16-1, $545
9th:         Andrew Allen, Waterloo, S.C., five bass, 15-14, $484
10th:      Peyton Dunn, Fitzgerald, Ga., five bass, 15-10, $424

Complete results can be found at

Derek Lehtonen of Woodruff, South Carolina, caught a bass that weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and earned the Berkley Big Bass Boater award of $465.

Barry Huffman of Young Harris, Georgia, won the Strike King co-angler division and $1,816 Saturday, after bringing five bass to the scale that totaled 13 pounds, 8 ounces.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers finished:

1st:          Barry Huffman, Young Harris, Ga., five bass, 13-8, $1,816
2nd:        Nicholas Gurkin, Simpsonville, S.C., five bass, 12-1, $908
3rd:        Colby Matthews, Newborn, Ga., five bass, 12-0, $706
4th:         Gage Coley, Molena, Ga., five bass, 11-15, $424
5th:         Trey Paul, Anderson, S.C., five bass, 11-14, $363
6th:         J.D. Carter, Honea Park, S.C., five bass, 11-12, $565
7th:         Todd Huntley, Inman, S.C., five bass, 11-9, $303
8th:         Deion Latimer, Belton, S.C., five bass, 11-8, $272
9th:         William Thomas Cowart, Danielsville, Ga., five bass, 11-7, $242
10th:      Logan Brown, Fletcher, N.C., four bass, 9-13, $212

Young Harris’ Huffman Tops Strike King Co-Angler Division

J.D. Carter of Honea Park, South Carolina, earned the Berkley Big Bass co-angler award of $232, catching a bass that weighed in at 5 pounds, 5 ounces – the largest co-angler catch of the day.

After two events, Joe Anders of Easley, South Carolina, leads the BFL Savannah River Division Boater Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 480 points, while Colby Matthews of Newborn, Georgia, leads the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 495 points.

The next event for BFL Savannah River Division anglers will be held April 13, at Lake Hartwell in Lavonia, 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.