Okahumpka’s Semento Rallies to Win Toyota Series Southern Division Finale on the Harris Chain of Lakes

Category: article

 May 22nd, 2022 by Keith Worrall 

Modified May 24th, 2022 at 9:40 AM

LEESBURG, Fla. (May 22, 2022) – Despite only weighing in four bass totaling 9 pounds, 15 ounces that had him buried in 119th place after Day 1, pro angler Jonathan Semento of Okahumpka, Florida, rallied on the final two days – including a 25-pound, 3-ounce final-day limit – to win the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at the Harris Chain of Lakes and win the top payout of $80,500, including the lucrative $35,000 Phoenix MLF Contingency Bonus. Semento’s three-day total of 14 bass weighing 60-1 earned him the victory by a 3-pound, 12-ounce margin over second place pro Andrew Ready of Auburndale, Florida, who caught 15 bass weighing 56-5 to finish second and earn $17,000.

The three-day bass fishing tournament, hosted by Visit Lake County, was the third and final event of the regular season for the Toyota Series Southern Division.

“It feels great to come back from so far and win like this,” Semento told MLF reporter Rob Newell. “I was pretty frustrated that first day. But I knew those big fish were offshore and I just needed to relocate them. On the second day, I moved around a lot more and found them about 200 yards from where I caught them two weeks ago.

“What made it possible to relocate them was the fact that I had the whole lake to myself,” he added. “If 80 boats went over there every day, I wouldn’t have been able to hop around and fish as freely. Having no pressure over there was definitely a big key.”

The lake that Semento fished in was Lake Griffin, which was avoided by many tournament competitors after recent hydrilla spraying, algae blooms and rising water temperatures had colored the water into a hue that resembled pea soup. Despite the tougher conditions, Semento, a resident of nearby Okahumpka, had placed second in a local tournament after fishing in Griffin a couple of weeks ago and decided that he was going to stick with the lake for this event.

Semento’s key area in Lake Griffin was a 100-yard stretch of clumpy eelgrass in 4 to 6 feet of water. To do his work, Semento utilized two ChatterBaits: one was a 3/8-ounce golden shiner color for shallower 4-foot clumps and the other was a ½-ounce chartreuse and white model for deeper clumps in 6 feet. He trailed both with Yamamoto Zako trailers in matching colors to the ChatterBaits. He fished both on 15-pound-test P-Line.

“Sometimes with tournament fishing, it just comes down to being stubborn enough until it pays off,” Semento said. “Some people might think I was crazy to go right back over to Griffin after catching 9 pounds there the first day. But this fishing game can get personal, and it comes down to knowing you are doing the right thing even when your weigh-in ticket doesn’t reflect it the first day. I knew in my heart what lived there and I was determined to prove it.”

The top 10 pros on the Harris Chain of Lakes finished:

1st: Jonathan Semento, Okahumpka, Fla., 14 bass, 60-1, $80,500
2nd: Andrew Ready, Auburndale, Fla., 15 bass, 56-5, $17,000
3rd: Flint Davis, Leesburg, Ga., 15 bass, 53-10, $12,750
4th: Austin Baskette, Leesburg, Fla., 15 bass, 53-1, $10,750
5th: Kennie Steverson, Umatilla, Fla., 15 bass, 52-7, $9,750
6th: Eric Conant, Lakeland, Fla., 15 bass, 52-4, $8,375
7th: Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla., 15 bass, 51-10, $7,300
8th: Dustin Smith, Grand Island, Fla., 15 bass, 51-2, $6,300
9th: Val Osinski, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 15 bass, 50-9, $5,300
10th: Ben McCann, Bradenton, Fla., 15 bass, 49-6, $4,200

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Pro Nolan Gaskin of Broussard, Louisiana, won the $500 Day 1 Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Thursday with a largemouth weighing 8 pounds, 3 ounces. Grant Valkaria, Florida’s Jonathan Mickler earned Friday’s $500 Berkley Big Bass award with a 9-pound, 5-ounce kicker.

Semento took home an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

Nate Bloom of Winter Springs, Florida, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Saturday with a three-day total of 15 bass weighing 37 pounds, 10 ounces. Bloom took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.

The top 10 Strike King co-anglers on the Harris Chain of Lakes finished:

1st: Nate Bloom, Winter Springs, Fla., 15 bass, 37-10, Phoenix 518 Pro boat w/115-hp Mercury outboard
2nd: Mason Chapman, Lenexa, Kan., 15 bass, 37-7, $5,375
3rd: William Lewis, Jacksonville, Fla., 15 bass, 36-7, $4,300
4th: Billy Schwach, Summerville, S.C., 15 bass, 36-2, $3,650
5th: Shane Zelazo, Pollocksville, N.C., 15 bass, 36-0, $3,150
6th: Hunter Kaiser, Lakeland, Fla., 13 bass, 35-3, $2,650
7th: Colten Drawdy, Plant City, Fla., 15 bass, 34-15, $2,150
8th: Erik Kraft, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., 14 bass, 33-12, $1,825
9th: Blaine Partee, Oviedo, Fla., 15 bass, 33-5, $1,530
10th: Jeff Turner, Plainfield, Ill., 15 bass, 33-5, $1,490

The Day 1 Berkley Big Bass $150 award winner in the Strike King co-angler division, was Justin Thompson of Marshall, Virginia, with an 8-pound, 15-ounce bass, while the Day 2 $150 award went to Hunter Rudd of Leesburg, Georgia, who weighed in a 7-pound, 15-ounce largemouth.

Now that the three regular-season events in the Toyota Series Southern Division are complete, pro Christian Greico of Tampa, Florida, has won the Toyota Series Southern Division Pro Angler of the Year (AOY) race with 711 points, while Mason Chapman of Lenexa, Kansas – son of Bass Pro Tour angler Brent Chapman – won the Strike King Co-Angler Division AOY race with 757 points.

The next event for Toyota Series anglers will take place June 1-3 – the Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. at the California Delta in Bethel Island, California. For a complete schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2022 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains Presented by Outlaw Ordnance, Southern, Southwestern Presented by Outlaw Ordnance and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International and Wild Card divisions. Anglers who fish in any of the six divisions and finish in the top 25 – or the top 12 from the Wild Card division – will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning up to $235,000 cash. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard. The 2022 Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. Championship will be held Nov. 3-5 on Lake Guntersville in Guntersville, Alabama, and is hosted by Marshall County Tourism and Sports.

Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Toyota Series Presented by A.R.E. include: 4WP, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, AFTCO, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, E3, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Gary Yamamoto Baits, General Tire, Lew’s, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Outlaw Ordnance, Phoenix, Polaris, Power-Pole, Strike King, Tackle Warehouse, T-H Marine, Toyota, Wiley X and YETI.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the MLF Toyota Series on the MLF5 social media outlets at Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019, MLF expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh, and immediately release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement, and fish care.

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