Chris Martinkovic of Hamilton, Ohio, weighed a three-day total of 11 bass totaling 38 pounds, 11 ounces, to win the Walmart Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on Kentucky Lake presented by Mercury Saturday. For his victory, Martinkovic took home a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard and a Chevy 1500 Silverado as well as entry into the 2015 BFL All-American presented by Chevy. This regional tournament featured the top 40 boaters and 40 co-anglers from each of the Buckeye, Great Lakes, Illini and Michigan divisions.
“In practice, I checked an area where I had remembered catching fish about five years ago,” said Martinkovic, who picked up the second BFL win of his career. “It was out of the wind, and I caught 18 pounds in about 20 minutes. It was one of those spots you dream of finding in a tournament. The fish stayed there all week and I could barely sleep before the tournament.
“I caught 18 pounds in about 10 minutes on day one,” Martinkovic continued. “I caught my limit almost as quickly on day two.”
Martinkovic’s magic spot was a shallow shell bed that had current from the fast-rising water pulling over it. He said the shell bed showed up as a visible dark spot on the first two days. The third day of the tournament was a different story. High winds and 2-foot waves made it difficult for Martinkovic to effectively fish his prime area. To compound his problems, when he left late in the day to try and salvage a limit his trolling motor broke with two hours to go.
“I thought for sure I had lost the tournament,” said Martinkovic after only bringing one bass to the scale on day three. “There were two people about 7 pounds behind me. I know Kentucky Lake fishes tough in the fall, but I felt for sure I needed more than one good fish to win. I was shocked.
“I’ve had a lot of close calls in some big tournaments,” Martinkovic went on to say. “I lost the All-American in 2008 because of a dead fish penalty. It feels great to get this win and I’m glad to be going back to the All-American.”
Martinkovic’s key baits were a clear Heddon Zara Spook, a homemade chartreuse and white-colored vibrating jig and a ½-ounce Strictly Bass Lures spinnerbait in the same colors.
The top six boaters that qualified for the 2015 BFL All-American were:
1st: Chris Martinkovic, Hamilton, Ohio, 11 bass, 38-11, Ranger Z518C with 200-horsepower outboard + Chevy 1500 Silverado
2nd: Garrett McDowell, Mattoon, Ill., 12 bass, 38-11, $1,500
3rd: Mike Brueggen, La Crosse, Wis., 12 bass, 34-2, $1,100
4th: Mike Barnes, Mackinaw, Ill., nine bass, 31-13, $1,000
5th: Randy Ramsey, Ceresco, Mich., 10 bass, 30-11, $900
6th: Shane Haslett, Beecher City, Ill., eight bass, 28-15, $800
Rounding out the top 10 pros were:
7th: Jason Skutt, Menomonie, Wis., eight bass, 28-8, $700
8th: Marcus Sykora, Osage Beach, Mo., six bass, 24-5, $650
9th: Luke Budde, Waterloo, Ill., seven bass, 23-13, $600
10th: Kyle Weisenburger, Ottawa, Ohio, 10 bass, 23-6, $550
Complete results can be found at FLWOutdoors.com.
Ryan Sykes of Hamilton, Ohio, won the co-angler division with a three-day total of 10 bass totaling 25 pounds, 7 ounces. For his efforts, Sykes took home a Ranger Z518C with a 200-horsepower Evinrude or Mercury outboard along with a berth in the 2015 BFL All-American tournament.
The top six co-angers that qualified for the 2015 BFL All-American were:
1st: Ryan Sykes, Hamilton, Ohio, 10 bass, 25-7, Ranger Z518C with 200-horsepower outboard
2nd: Eddie Dean, Ashton, W.Va., seven bass, 24-8, $750
3rd: Kyle Rabelhofer, Silver Lake, Wis., eight bass, 22-0, $550
4th: Shawn Overton, Coal Valley, Ill., eight bass, 21-0, $500
5th: Mark Lyons, Marion, Ind., seven bass, 18-10, $450
6th: Jay Jeffries, Celina, Ohio, six bass, 17-7, $400
Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:
7th: Ron Check, Prairie Du Chien, Wis., four bass, 17-1, $350
8th: Chad Schultz, Roscoe, Ill., six bass, 16-6, $325
9th: Aaron Arning, Walnut Hill, Ill., six bass, 15-9, $300
10th: Kim Sapetti, Chatham, Ill., three bass, 13-10, $275
The BFL Regional Championship on Kentucky Lake was hosted by the Kentucky Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The BFL is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 120 tournaments throughout the season, five in each division. The top 40 boaters and co-anglers from each division qualify for a regional tournament and compete to finish in the top six, which then qualifies them for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Walmart BFL All-American presented by Chevy. Top winners in the BFL can move up to the Rayovac FLW Series or even the Walmart FLW Tour.
Image courtesy FLW Outdoors