Co-angler Jeffery Baffa wins MLF event: Massive bag on Day 1 holds up for Frankfort man
Jeffery Baffa caught a 24-11 bag of largemouth bass on Day 1 of Major League Fishing’s Lake Toho Presented by Googan Baits event and he made it hold up for the win.
Jeffery Baffa caught five largemouth bass weighing 24 pounds, 11 ounces on Day 1 of Major League Fishing’s Lake Toho Presented by Googan Baits event in Florida.
“Then I caught 4 pounds the second day and 6 the last day, Whew!” Baffa said from the Interstate as he drove home to Frankfort Saturday evening. “Who would think I could win?”
Even so Baffa led the co-angler side all three days to win with 35 pounds, 15 ounces, earning him $34,750.
His Day 1 pro was Eric Conant, who caught 26-7. Conant finished third on the pro side.
“That first day, we had 51 pounds, 2 ounces, it was crazy,” Baffa said.
Baffa’s father Don passed away last month.
“I thought he was with us,” Baffa said.
His dad didn’t teach him fish, that fell to his mother’s father, Thomas McElroy.
“No, but [my dad] was my biggest fan,” Baffa said. “He encouraged me to push on in tournaments.”
Certainly paid off.
“That was [Conant’s] spot,” Baffa said. “He found it a week or two ago. It was a shell bottom with hydrilla on it. There are lots of shell bottoms in that whole chain. For some reason, they were just there. It was just a Rat-L-Trap. When the bite was on, you had to rip it through the grass.”
On Day 2, Baffa flipped weed mats. On the final day, he threw the Rat-L-Trap a lot, but caught both keepers on a watermelon Zoom Fluke.
Baffa learned much from pros over the years.
“Mickey Bruce taught me 90 percent of what I know about tournament fishing,” Baffa said.
This was his biggest pay day. His previous best was $20,000 for second in an FLW event on Lake Champlain.
In regular life, Baffa is partners in a CBD store in Homer Glen.
Asked if he was concerned if he could hold on the final day, Baffa said, “Absolutely. I would have never believed that I could win with [six] pounds the final day.”
Like many school groups, fishing clubs/teams struggle to find ways to be out during the pandemic. On Jan. 30, Andrew High School used the cold stretch to hold an ice fishing event at Horsetail Lake.
“Fishing was slow, but the kids had a blast and it was an educational experience for them,” coach John Bartgen emailed. “For most of them, it was their first time ever ice fishing. We had 15 kids total and a couple dads fishing with us.”
Marlon Arguelles, father of club member Cole, documented the day with photos and assisted. Coaches Dave Arndt and Chuck Even were also there.
The best of the high school fishing clubs/teams offer a sort of dual track: Competitive settings for the young hotshot anglers while most students are focused on learning fishing basics.
* The Illinois High School Association state finals for bass fishing were not held in 2020 and will not be held this spring.
However, assistant executive director Matt Troha emailed, “We are planning to have sectionals only this year. Those are slated for May 6 with a rain date of May 10. Hoping for a full State Series (sectionals and state) again in spring of 2022.”
Jim Thompson, longest serving governor in Illinois, gathered one of the finest Illinois River decoy collections, including ones by Charles Perdew and Robert Elliston. His collection will be part of Guyette & Deeter’s spring auction on April 30 and May 1. Details are at guyetteanddeeter.com/april_preview.php.
Bill Kurtis and executive chef Sarah Stegner headline the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Silver Anniversary celebration (virtual) at 6 p.m. Wednesday. It’s free, but click here to register. More information is at fs.usda.gov/news/midewin/news-events. I am struck that it has already been 25 years and look forward to Wednesday night.
The Great Backyard Bird County (birdcount.org) is Friday through Sunday. I’m guessing the weather may make it a different and maybe more varied year.
Not sure what gives my age away more: Asking our youngest if The Weeknd is as big as Michael Jackson or Prince were or wondering what googan really means.