It was a long time coming for 2018 Rookie of the Year and Bagley pro, Matt Becker, who capitalized on the lake’s herring spawn to fill his live well each day. Winning by just over two pounds, it was the first career MLF Series victory on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit for the Finleyville, Pennsylvania native. Becker took home a big trophy and $137,500 for the win.

“Practice was a little different. It wasn’t the best. I found some fish doing a little bit of everything but what I planned on doing—and what I ended up doing—were two completely different things. I started fishing the tournament sight-fishing and fishing docks but soon moved to fishing points where bass were feeding on spawning blueback herring and it really paid off,” notes Becker.

He continues: “I planned on working the points until 10:30 or 11 that first day and then I’d switch over to some docks and some sight-fishing but by the time 11 o’clock rolled around I had 18 or 19 pounds in the livewell. So, I kind of figured it out that first morning and said hey, I’m just going to roll with this the rest of the day.”

Becker weighed in 21-9 the first day.

Photo by Charles Waldorf/Compliments of MLF

“Day 2 started off hot and heavy; I caught them pretty good early and it really solidified to myself that I was doing the right thing. It allowed me to kind of practice and find more areas for the rest of the week and I had 19 and a half pounds by noon. I was doing the same thing I did on Day 1 – and that’s fishing points with herring – and it just worked,” comments Becker.

As for Day 3, there was a considerable weather change with a big front rolling through, but Becker was resilient with his pattern and caught fish early before the weather could affect his bite.

“We got a couple inches of rain and I was kind of worried about what that would do to my fish but I was fortunate to catch them early that day. I had over 15 pounds before the rain really got going and I was able to cull up to over 17 pounds by the end of the day which I thought was good to just survive but it turned out I had a seven-pound lead after Day 3. That was a pleasant surprise. But by this point I was fully committed to how I was fishing and doing a little better each day,” remarks Becker.

He admits that the final day started off a bit slower than he had hoped. “The final day, honestly, was a little bit slower. It wasn’t until 11 o’clock that I caught my limit and then settled down and started upgrading. It was a little bit scary to hear the voices in my head that I might choke this big lead away, but it turned into a good afternoon of fishing. I ended up with 17-11, which was about two and a half pounds over second place.”

Becker ended up with 76-05 while Anthony Gagliardi weighed 73-13 on his home lake for a $30,000 second-place check. Again, Becker ended up with $137,500, which included the $35,000 Phoenix Bonus.

Becker sums up the feelings of pulling off his first MLF Series win and what it feels like to be partnered with Bagley Baits.

“I’ve been working toward winning a tournament like this for the past ten plus years. It’s been countless sacrifices and time on the water, long days, all that, so to win this one on Lake Murray is definitely a dream come true.”

The Bagley pro is especially thankful for sponsors like Bagley Baits and the belief and dedication the team has put into his career. “The guys up at Northland and Bagley have been very helpful. They’ve got some excellent baits that have helped me out throughout the year and I anticipate more situations where the baits will really come into play. It’s awesome to be partnered with good people and products and Bagley definitely fits that bill.”

Charlie Peterson, Northland Fishing Tackle and Bagley’s pro staff coordinator, is thrilled with Becker’s win on Lake Murray. “Matt is a very consistent angler who we expect to do well at all of his events. We were rooting for him to take home the win on Lake Murray and were all so happy to see it happen!” comments Peterson.

Photo by Charles Waldorf/Compliments of MLF