Columbia’s Culbertson Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League Wild Card Championship on Lake of the Ozarks

Major League Fishing
Austin Culbertson of Columbia.

Boater Austin Culbertson of Columbia, Missouri, brought a two-day total of eight bass to the scale weighing 25 pounds, 9 ounces to win the no-entry fee Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Wild Card Championship on Lake of the Ozarks presented by For his victory, Culbertson earned one of the final berths into the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American Championship.

The Wild Card tournament is a last-chance shot at the All-American for Bass Fishing League anglers that didn’t qualify for a Regional Championship.

“This is incredible,” said Culbertson. “I wasn’t able to practice, but luckily I’m from the area so I was able to get on the water and just adjust to what the fish were doing.

“I caught my first fish on a Zara Spook and it was a five-pounder so it was a great start. I continued to chase that bite for several hours before switching to a jig and catching my three other keepers. I tried to find that fifth keeper from 9:30 a.m. on, with no luck. I finished the first day with only four fish at 13 pounds even.”

Culbertson said he started day two right back where he caught the five-pounder.

“I was thinking the topwater bite would be better on day two due to the weather, but I chased it for more than two hours with only one bite. Around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday I caught my first keeper on a jerkbait.

“I noticed the fish had moved up off the bottom and were more suspended, so I made a slight adjustment,” continued Culbertson. “I found a good cove and was able to secure two more keepers on the jerkbait.”

Culbertson said he spent the rest of the day looking for the last two fish he needed to get his limit.

“Right at the end of the day, I ran to a spot where I’d had success with big fish in the past, but hadn’t fished all week. I fished the jerkbait along a bluff wall, and caught close to a 5-pound largemouth. I fought it for three or four minutes around the boat and got it in with just enough time to throw a few more casts before running back for the weigh-in.”

Culbertson came in to the weigh-in with only four fish again on the final day.

“I was around the right ones, just not enough of them, but it turned out to be enough for the win,” said Culbertson.

The top six boaters that qualified for 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American were:

1st: Austin Culbertson of Columbia, Mo., eight bass, 25-9         

2nd: Kyle Kitts of Joplin, Mo., 10 bass, 21-1

3rd: Harmon Davis of Marlow, Okla., seven bass, 20-9

4th: Joey Schmidt of Hickory, Ky., 10 bass, 20-6

5th: Garrett Johnson of Indianapolis, Ind., six bass, 20-2

6th: Richie Marsh of Excelsior Springs, Mo., seven bass, 19-15

Rounding out the top 10 boaters were:

7th: Mick Fenn of Grove, Okla., six bass, 18-14

8th: Kevin Bishop of Ashland, Ky., eight bass, 18-10

9th: Jim Eakin of Clarksville, Tenn., six bass, 18-9         

10th: Chris Gable of Hopkinsville, Ky., eight bass, 18-8   

Complete results can be found at

Boater Brent Barnes of Chattanooga, Tennessee, weighed the heaviest bass of the tournament Friday – a 6-pound, 10-ouncer - that won the day’s Boater Big Bass Award of $225.

Kitts took home an extra $500 as the highest finishing FLW PHOENIX BONUS member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $7,000 per event in each Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the FLW PHOENIX BONUS contingency program can be found at

Raymie Long of Stanford, Kentucky, weighed in a two-day total of eight bass weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces to win the Co-angler Wild Card Championship and advance to the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The top six co-anglers that qualified for the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American were:

1st: Raymie Long of Stanford, Ky., eight bass, 11-11

2nd: Zach Barnes of Chickamauga, Ga., six bass, 11-4

3rd: Cotton Snodgrass of Norman, Okla., seven bass, 11-3         

4th: Bryan Schuster of Oklahoma City, Okla., five bass, 11-0

5th: Jeff Cave of Mount Juliet, Tenn., four bass, 10-5

6th: Chris Gebhardt of Columbia, Mo., five bass, 9-11

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers were:

7th: Robert Holliday of Greensboro, Ga., five bass, 9-4              

8th: Jim McLaughlin of Vinita, Okla., four bass, 8-13

9th: Larry Chadwick of Phenix City, Ala., four bass, 8-11

10th: Joe Tucker of Osceola, Mo., four bass, 8-9

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine Wild Card tournament on Lake of the Ozarks was hosted by

The 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine is a 24-division circuit devoted to weekend anglers, with 128 tournaments throughout the season, five qualifying events in each division. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six 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 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American will be held June 3-5 at Douglas Lake in Dandridge, Tennessee, and is hosted by the Jefferson County Department of Tourism. The top 45 boaters and co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour.

For complete details and updated information visit For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on FLW’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.