|The best boaters and co-anglers from MLF’s grassroots ranks will compete on Douglas Lake, June 3-5 in the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Presented by T-H Marine All-American Presented by TINCUP. One of the longest-running championships in bass fishing, this year’s All-American returns to its traditional early summer timeslot for a showdown in the mountains of East Tennessee.|
The stakes will be high on Douglas Lake, as the field’s 98 qualifying anglers are all competing for a grand prize of up to $120,000 in the boater division, including a lucrative $20,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency award, and $50,000 in the Strike King co-angler division. Additionally, the highest-finishing boater and co-angler from each of seven Regional Championships (including the Wild Card) and the TBF National Championship at the All-American will advance to the 2021 Toyota Series Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 and $33,500, respectively.
St Croix pro and Phoenix Bass Fishing League veteran, Roger Fitzpatrick, is no stranger to the All-American. This weekend’s event will be the Eldon, Missouri pro’s eighth, going back to 2001 when he finished third on Lake Hamilton. What’s new, however, is that this year he’ll be sharing his boat with his son, Chase Fitzpatrick. Both anglers qualified for the All-American field by virtue of standout performances at the Regional on Table Rock Lake last October.
“Chase has been able to travel and practice with me at several previous All-Americans and those have been special times,” says Roger. “But now he’s qualified to fish in his first one. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I’m incredibly proud of him.”
A junior at the University of Missouri, Chase plans to join the school’s bass fishing team in the fall. “I didn’t really start fishing BFLs until I was 18, because I was doing so much in high school with sports,” he says. “Last year was the first year I really tried to make the Regional. To be able to do so well in it and qualify for the All-American with my dad is really awesome.”
In addition to his father, Chase has other significant fishing influences in his family. “I’ve been around fishing my entire life, and I’ve always looked up to dad as a fisherman. My Uncle Dennis (St. Croix pro, Dennis Berhorst) has earned a lot of success fishing professionally, and my Uncle Wayne (Wayne Fitzpatrick) used to fish a lot of tournaments, too. I’ve got a lot of family that fish. I’ve grown up around it and I love it.”
Chase says he’s excited to be able to fish a tournament like the All-American, and the fact that he’s fishing with his dad makes it even more special. “I’m pretty excited,” he says. “I just hope I can put some in the boat.”
The father and son duo practiced at Lake Douglas all this week. Of course, they found some fish and some patterns, despite the elder Fitzpatrick nursing a torn tendon in his left arm. “A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to spend much time with their parents, especially their father,” says Chase. “Yesterday alone we fished for 12 hours together. To be able to have a hobby you both enjoy and spend that much time together, to grow closer together and have fellowship, that’s just an awesome opportunity. God has really blessed us.”