Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Flanagan, Poggenpohl Take Win for Navy

ANDERSON, S.C. – The team of Shaun Flanagan and Curt Poggenpohl put in three good days to win the 32nd annual Military Team Bass Tournament, presented by American Bass Anglers and Caymas Boats, held May 3-5, 2023, on Lake Hartwell at Anderson, S.C.

Launching at Green Pond Landing in Anderson, S.C. Flanagan and Poggenpohl landed three consecutive daily tournament limits of five bass to win with a total of 15 bass tallying 45.09 pounds. The two men on active duty with the U.S. Navy beat their nearest competition by nearly seven pounds with slightly more than a 3-pound average. They went home $4,000 richer for the victory. 

“We targeted 18 to 22 feet of water with drop-shot rigs and shaky heads way off the end of the shoals,” advised Flanagan who is stationed in Pensacola, Fla. “We were looking for little fingers, basically a spot on a spot. We focused on doing that all week. We fished consistently.”

On Day 1, Flanagan and Poggenpohl held sixth place with 14.09 pounds. On the second day, the team scored the second heaviest single-day sack of the tournament at 15.72 pounds to vault upward five levels and capture the Day 2 lead with 29.81 pounds. They never relinquished the lead.

“On Day 1, we had some issues with the trolling motor batteries that prevented us from staying on our good spots,” Flanagan lamented. “We fished well offshore. On Day 2, we were able to milk everything we had.”

Holding the lead by a little more than a pound and a half, Flanagan and Poggenpohl needed another good day going into the final. They got it, landing 15.28 pounds with a 3.88-pound kicker to score a decisive win for the Navy. 

“We knew we needed a consistent 15 to 17 pounds per day to win,” stated Poggenpohl, who is assigned to Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. “On Day 1, we targeted largemouth bass and didn’t think we could get anything near our target weight. We switched gears and concentrated on spotted bass. We found a couple areas that consistently held some 2- to 3-pound spots. We rotated through our areas and got the fish we needed. On the last morning, the bass really didn’t want to bite, so we just toughed it out. We finally got a couple upgrades toward the end of the day. It was a tough tournament. Hats off to all of the competitors.”

Taking second place among the 96 teams, Joseph Cusimano and Adam Kremer landed three consecutive 5-bass daily limits to finish with 15 bass going 38.18 pounds. That put a check for $900 in their hands. 

“We had one little sweet spot that we kept hitting every morning,” revealed Cusimano, on duty with the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune, N.C. “It usually produced a limit. After we caught a limit, we ran up the river to fish channel swing banks with drop-shots and shaky heads.”

Cusimano and Kremer held ninth place on Day 1 with 13.33 pounds. They found 13.10 pounds on Day 2 to move up five notches to fourth with a 2-day total of 26.43 pounds. On the third day, they landed 11.75 pounds, good enough to leap another two spots.

Fishing for all the National Guardsmen and Reservists, Jason Cogar and Blake Morgan finished third with 37.87 pounds. They brought in perfect 5-bass daily limits each day to earn $600 for the effort. 

The team held 12th place on Day 1 with 12.56 pounds. On Day 2, Cogar and Morgan brought in 15.65 pounds topped by a 4.17-pound kicker to move up 10 slots to second with a 2-day total of 28.21 pounds. 

“On the first day, we hooked a lot of fish, but we landed them on the second day,” Cogar quipped. “On Day 1, we had a bunch of good fish get off. We lost at least two fish in the 4- to 5-pound range. In the first two days, we caught about 30 fish a day and did quite a bit of culling. We had one bass hooked and a bunch of spotted bass came up with it. One was about a 6-pound spot, but it didn’t bite.”

Going into the final day about a pound and a half out of the lead, Cogar and Morgan needed another big sack. They caught another 5-bass limit for 9.66 pounds, but dropped a peg to third place. 

“We fished jerkbaits up shallow in the morning trying to catch some big largemouth,” Cogar reported. “Then, we went out to deep water and fished Carolina rigs. I haven’t fished this lake since about 2014.”

“We caught a lot of fish this week,” Morgan echoed. “They just didn’t have a lot of size to them. “

Chuck Howard and Kenneth Ellis finished fourth with 13 bass weighing 36.44 pounds. They collected $500. The team held second place on Day 1 with five bass at 15.52 pounds. They anchored that bag with a 4.04-pound largemouth. 

On Day 2, Howard and Ellis struggled a bit, bringing in three bass for 6.59 pounds, giving them a 2-day total of 22.11 pounds. That dropped them 13 levels to 15th place going into the final. On the last day, they landed another good limit weighing 14.33 pounds. That pushed them up 11 slots.

“We targeted the fish feeding on herring all week,” Howard explained. “We were fishing only for largemouth really shallow. I didn’t catch a fish in water deeper than two feet all week. Most of the largemouth were in water a foot deep or less. We caught the fish on jerkbaits, flukes and a lot of other baits. You name it and we threw it. We had some issues on the second day and didn’t weigh in a limit. That hurt us a lot.”

Rounding out the Top 5 teams, Chris McMahon and Todd Buckham found three consecutive 5-bass daily limits for 35.91 pounds. That gave them a check for $450.

McMahon and Buckham made steady progress all week. They sat in 10th place with 13.06 pounds on Day 1. The next day, they caught 10.89 pounds to make a move upward into eighth place with 23.95 pounds. On the final day, they caught 11.96 pounds, enough to climb another three spots.

“We fished a drop-shot rig by an island close to the launch every day,” McMahon detailed. “We also fished shaky heads and Todd caught some good ones on a Senko. It was tough fishing.”

The Day 1 leaders, Thomas Allman and Marvin Howard, finished in 11th place with 13 bass at 32.67 pounds. On the first day, they brought in the heaviest single-day sack of the event at 15.82 pounds. They capped that catch with a 5.31 pounds, the biggest bass caught the first day.

Allman and Marvin Howard earned $275 for 11th place. They collected a $950 bonus for the Day 1 big bass. That gave them a total of $1,225 in winnings. 

“We caught the big bass on a big walking bait,” said Allman, who landed the 5.31-pounder. “It hit at about lunchtime. We had another good one and lost three big ones. We needed the wind to blow. We didn’t get a limit on the second day and that killed us.”

On the second day Gary Gottschall and Chad Christopherson caught a 5.30-pounder, the largest fish of the day. They finished with 10 bass for 21.38 pounds and picked up $950 for the Day 2 lunker. 

“I caught that big fish on a jig,” Gottschall recalled. “I fished it by a rock near an overhanging tree. It hit about 30 minutes before we had to weigh the fish. The water was shallow, but with a steep drop. I saw the line moving and set the hook.”

The team of Bryan McNeal and Jared Albright took the tournament lunker title with a 5.66-pound largemouth they caught the final day. As the biggest overall bass landed in the event and the largest bass brought to the scale on Day 3, McNeal and Albright collected $950.

McNeal caught that 5.66-pounder. He also caught the biggest bass landed in the 2022 MTBT, a 5.31-pounder. He successfully defended his tournament lunker title. 

“We caught our fish by sight fishing in super shallow water with a Texas rig,” McNeal recalled. “They were still circling around the beds. We caught almost everything on a Texas rig including the big fish, but we caught a few fish on spinnerbaits.”

In sixth place, Danny Christ and Robert Gardner brought in three limits for 35.52 pounds. Fishing alone, Jack Howell took the seventh spot with a perfect 15 bass for 35.42 pounds. Steven Wenkel and Gregg Grodner finished eighth with 15 bass going 34.43 pounds. 

Bill Stines and Jason Turner landed in ninth place with 15 bass at 34.10 pounds. Capping off the Top 10, Sterling Roberts and Mark Brinkman brought in a 15-bass 3-day limit for 33.28 pounds. 

In the MTBT, teams of up to two anglers battle for their respective services’ bragging rights and cash prizes. Each person on the team must be on active duty or retired from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, National Guard, Reserve or Coast Guard. In addition, families of military members 16 years old or older who hold Department of Defense identification cards, veterans with an honorable or general discharge who possess a DD-214, and Department of Defense civilians, and military contractors may also compete in this event.

In 1975, the Military Bass Anglers Association was formed. This organization dedicated itself to providing bass anglers in the military opportunities to compete in tournaments with other military members. The Military Team Bass Tournament began in 1991 as a way to promote fishing and camaraderie among all the service branches.

In 2000, Morris Sheehan, a life member of MBAA who retired from the U.S. Army, bought the organization. He renamed it American Bass Anglers Inc., and relocated it to Athens, Ala. The Military Team Bass Tournament brings all service branches together for a fun-filled week of competition and ultimate annual service bragging rights.

For more information about this tournament, call Tournament Director Billy Benedetti at (256) 230-5632.

About American Bass Anglers: American Bass Anglers is committed to providing low-cost, close-to-home tournaments for the weekend angler and, at the same time, offering each competitor an upward path for individual angler progression.

American Bass Anglers is sponsored by Caymas Boats, Mercury Marine, MotorGuide, T-H Marine, Power Pole, RT Outdoors, Optima Batteries, Hotel Planner.com, and LurePartsOnline.com.

For more information about American Bass Anglers, the Open Series, the American Fishing Tour, the American Couples Series, the annual Military Team Bass Tournament, and the Top 150 Solo Tour, all presented by Caymas Boats, visit www.americanbassanglers.com or call (256) 232-0406.

This story was written by ABA staff writer John N. Felsher. To submit articles of interest email info@americanbassanglers.com.

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