Grand Lake Readies for 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship presented by Lowrance

College Fishing Anglers Compete for the Opportunity to Fish as a Pro in the 2021 Toyota Series Championship and the Chance to Win up to $235,000

GROVE, Okla. (Feb. 25, 2021) – The nation’s best college fishing teams head to Grove, Oklahoma, next week, March 3-5, for the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance at Grand Lake. This is the 12th annual College Fishing Championship – hosted by the Grove Convention and Tourism Bureau – where 150 college bass fishing teams have qualified to compete for a $33,500 prize package, including a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

In addition to the boat package, both members of the winning team and the runners-up at the 2021 Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship will advance to the 2021 Toyota Series Championship where they will compete as pros for a top prize of up to $235,000. Both members of the third-place team will advance to the 2021 Toyota Series Championship to compete as co-anglers for a shot at winning a $33,500 Phoenix 518 Pro with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

“I’m pretty excited about getting to fish a national championship in my home state,” said Ty Crutchfield of Inola, Oklahoma, who competes for Rogers State University. “This will be the second College Fishing National Championship I’ve competed in, but the first one was in Louisiana, so it’s going to be cool to have a championship on one of my local lakes.

“The national championship is such a great opportunity. Most college fishing anglers dream of eventually being able to fish professionally, so the chance to compete in the 2021 Toyota Series Championship could be life-changing.”

Crutchfield said he was able to do a little pre-practice prior to the lake going off-limits, but with the recent weather conditions, he expects to see pretty tough conditions at Grand Lake and assumes the lake has changed significantly since he was there.

Bass Pro Tour angler Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma, said he is looking forward to following all the action from Grand Lake throughout the week.

“The event is going to be tough, but we’ve had a fairly warm week in Oklahoma so things are starting to thaw out,” said Evers. “Mentally these events can be tough because half the field goes into the tournament defeated because they didn’t get a single bite in practice. You have to keep your head in it.

“The main thing these anglers are going to need to look for is the cleanest, warmest water,” continued Evers. “There are a few areas on Grand Lake that clean up and warm up faster than others, so they just need to keep their head down.”

Evers said he expects the event will be a mental challenge due to the scarcity of bites anglers will likely receive, so it will be important that they make the most of every one of them.

“The Abu Garcia College Fishing National Championship is a huge opportunity to launch these college anglers’ career in the professional bass fishing world,” said Evers. “Qualifying for the Toyota Series Championship and the notoriety of fishing that event will truly help them.”
Anglers will take off from Wolf Creek Park, located at 963 N. 16th St. in Grove at 7 a.m. CT each day of competition. Weigh-ins will be held at the park starting at 3 p.m. and will be livestreamed daily. Due to COVID-19 protocols, attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to tune in to the weigh-in and follow the online coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com .

National television coverage of the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship presented by Lowrance will premiere Sunday, July 4, from 8-9 a.m. ET on the Outdoor Channel, with re-airs on the Sportsman Channel and World Fishing Network in the fall.

Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI teams compete in three regular-season qualifying tournaments in one of five conferences – Central, Northern, Southern, Southeastern and Western. The top ten teams from each division’s three regular-season tournaments and the top 20 teams from the annual Abu Garcia College Fishing Open advance to the following year’s Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI National Championship.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI on MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Grass Will Play A Key Role In Bassmaster Southern Open On Harris Chain

Florida's Harris Chain of Lakes will host the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open March 4-6, 2021.
Photo by James Overstreet/B.A.S.S.

February 25, 2021

LEESBURG, Fla. — March in Central Florida typically sees plenty of big bass occupying the shallow spawning zone. But, while this seasonal element will likely play a significant role in the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open on the Harris Chain of Lakes, Keith Carson is betting on the offshore game.

Competition days will be March 4-6 with daily takeoffs from Venetian Gardens (Ski Beach) at 6:45 a.m. ET. Weigh-ins on Days 1 and 2 will take place at Venetian Gardens at 2:45 p.m., and the final-day weigh-in will be held at Bass Pro Shops in Orlando at 4 p.m.

Located northwest of Orlando and totaling approximately 75,000 acres, the Harris Chain comprises eight primary lakes: Apopka, Harris, Griffin, Eustis, Dora, Beauclair, Carlton and Yale. Linked by canals, these lakes sport a diverse array of classic Florida vegetation with plenty of docks and seawalls.

Hailing from DeBary, Fla. — about an hour east of Leesburg — Carson earned his first Opens win at last year’s Eastern Open on Alabama’s Lay Lake. Notably, it was grassy habitat that delivered that December win. While the timing and venue will differ significantly, Carson is no less confident in the vegetation game.

“Harris is probably the best fishery in the nation right now,” he said. “You look at any tournament results in the last two years and it’s on fire.”

Case in point: late October saw Bryan College anglers Cole Sands and Conner Dimauro win the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship presented by Bass Pro Shops at the Harris Chain with a three-day total of 84 pounds, 12 ounces.

“It’s going to take some high weights to win,” Carson said. “I went out there recently and caught a 10-pounder and one that was almost 10. It’s pretty darn good right now. For catching numbers and (quality), it’s some of the best fishing I’ve seen in a long time.”

Carson attributes the Harris Chain’s tremendous productivity to “an explosion of offshore grass.” It’s mainly hydrilla, and the dense, green subsurface jungles offer bass the perfect blend of cover and feeding opportunities.

“Any time you have an abundance of grass, the fish get large, they eat a lot and it’s great for fishing,” he said. “It holds the forage — you have bream and crappie out there.

“A friend who works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told me that they find more crappie in (the stomachs of sampled bass) than anything. That tells me that those fish are offshore. They’re out there eating crappie in the grass, in the brushpiles.”

Notwithstanding the likelihood of shallow fish in all three stages of the spawn — prespawn, bedding and postspawn — Carson is convinced the winning bags will be caught in the chain’s deeper areas. Electronics, he said, will help anglers find sweet spots like points, shellbars, humps and shelves where the grass tops off and then drops to form a vertical wall.

“I see offshore winning,” he said. “Even in the dead middle of the spawn, when you’d think that would be a factor, it’s not (the dominant pattern). There are just too many fish and too much quality offshore.

“Maybe if you’re a sight fisherman, like myself, you can have a good day and catch a 25-pound bag, but there’s no way I can maintain that for three days. The offshore bite will hold up more consistently.”

Carson said the tournament will see a variety of offshore baits, including jigs, jerkbaits, swimbaits, swim jigs and crankbaits like the Berkley Frittside 5 he used on Lay. He said the entirety of the tournament waters should be in play.

Ultimately, he believes a mobile strategy will prove most productive.

“I think if a guy is good enough and he can have multiple offshore spots in multiple lakes, that will be the winning combination,” Carson said. “But as good as the grass is, I wouldn’t be surprised if a guy gets on one stretch that keeps reloading.”

Carson estimates that 23 pounds a day will be competitive. He’s looking for a three-day winning total of about 71 pounds.

Noting that one bite on this Florida powerhouse can dramatically change an angler’s fortune, Carson made a bold prediction: “I think we might see the big bass of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an 11- or 12-pounder weighed in.”

Fans can find real-time BassTrakk scoring updates and stream live coverage of the weigh-ins at Bassmaster.com. To help ensure the safety of all involved, those who wish to attend the tournament in person are encouraged to wear face coverings, maintain proper social distance and avoid congregating in large groups.


Guaranteed Rate Sponsors Four 2021 Bassmaster Elite Events

February 25, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Guaranteed Rate, one of the Top 5 largest retail mortgage lenders in the country, has expanded its relationship with B.A.S.S., the worldwide authority on bass fishing. Guaranteed Rate will serve as the title sponsor for four Bassmaster Elite Series events in 2021: Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River, Feb. 25-28; Bassmaster Elite Series at Pickwick Lake, March 18-21; Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork, Apr. 22-25; and Bassmaster Elite at Lake Champlain, July 8-11.

“Sponsoring these marquee events takes our partnership with B.A.S.S. to the next level,” said Guaranteed Rate Chief Marketing Officer Steve Moffat. “We are excited to support the best anglers in the world as they compete in some of the sport’s most competitive tournaments.”

Guaranteed Rate is well known for its support of the Chicago White Sox, who play at Guaranteed Rate Field, but also has a diverse nationwide presence across the sports world. The company has sponsorship deals with NASCAR’s Ryan Newman, the NHL, the UFC, World TeamTennis, the Professional Bowlers Association and others.

Last fall, Guaranteed Rate sponsored the Bassmaster Elite at Chickamauga Lake. During that tournament, fans spent more than 22.4 million minutes absorbing live coverage as Texas angler Lee Livesay claimed his first Elite Series win. The young 2021 season is reaching historically high levels of interest as more fans take in real-time scoring and live on-the-water coverage streaming at Bassmaster.com and broadcast on FS1.

“Guaranteed Rate is already a fantastic supporter of sports, and we’re thrilled to partner with the company to reach enthusiastic sportfishing fans in a time when we’re seeing record-breaking levels of interest in the Elite Series,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin.

The Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River starts Thursday, Feb. 25, and live coverage for all four days of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live from every Elite Series tournament beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.


Birge Wins Knockout Round at REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, Advances to Friday’s Championship Round on Lake Eufaula

Connell, Wheeler, Davis and Dudley Also Advance, 10 Anglers Set for Thursday

EUFAULA, Ala. (Feb. 24, 2021) – Pro Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma, weighed in eight bass totaling 25 pounds, 14 ounces Wednesday to win the Knockout Round (Group A) on Day 3 at REDCREST 2021, the Bass Pro Tour championship at Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. The five-day competition features a field of 40 of the best anglers in the world from the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour competing for a top cash prize of $300,000.

Advancing alongside Birge to Friday’s Championship round are pros Dustin Connell, Jacob Wheeler, Mark Davis and David Dudley.

The full field of anglers competed in the two-day Qualifying Round on Days 1 (Monday) and 2 (Tuesday) of the event. The field was cut to just the top 20 based on two-day total cumulative weight. The remaining 20 anglers were split into two groups for the Knockout Round – 10 (Group A) competed on Day 3 (Wednesday) and 10 (Group B) will compete on Day 4 (Thursday). The top five anglers from each group based on total single-day weight will advance to the Championship Round, the fifth and final day of competition (Friday) where weights are zeroed and the angler that catches the highest total weight on the final day will be crowned the REDCREST 2021 champion.

Birge said that every fish that he has caught so far this week – minus the very last fish of the day today – has come on a white Omega Genesis TI spinnerbait.

“I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing all week, throwing a spinnerbait around brush,” Birge said. “Overall, today went pretty good for me. I caught more today than either of the two previous days, even though the fishing was tougher overall. I ran around and fished brush, pretty much all over the bottom quarter of the lake.

“The event is going to boil down to whether I can get enough bites,” Birge continued. “I know the fish are around, because I can see them. But it’s whether or not they will want to chew. I keep thinking that any day the fish are going to move to the bank and it’s going to off, but it just hasn’t happened yet. It could happen tomorrow, it could happen Friday, but it’s going to be soon.”

Birge has thrown the spinnerbait all week on a 7-foot, 3-inch Favorite Fishing rod with 20-pound-test Yo-Zuri T7 Premium Fluorocarbon line.

The top five pros that made the cut and will advance to Championship Friday on Lake Eufaula are:

1st:          Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla., eight bass, 25-14
2nd:         Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., six bass, 17-4
3rd:         Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 15-2
4th:         Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., three bass, 11-14
5th:         David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., four bass, 10-14

The five pros eliminated from competition Wednesday are:

6th:         Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., two bass, 7-10
7th:         Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., two bass, 5-12
8th:         Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., one bass, 3-7
9th:         Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., one bass, 3-7
10th:       Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark., zero bass

Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 31 bass weighing 101 pounds, 4 ounces caught by nine pros on Wednesday

VanDam won Wednesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award with a 5-pound, 6-ounce largemouth that he weighed in during Period 1. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler that weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $7,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.

The 10 anglers that will compete in the Group B Knockout Round on Thursday are:

Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan.
Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tenn.
Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla.
Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C.
Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, Texas
Jordan Lee of Cullman, Ala.
Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn.
Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan
Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla.
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C.

REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour championship at Lake Eufaula, is hosted by the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.

Attendance is limited to competing anglers, essential staff and media covering the event only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com

The 2020 Bass Pro Tour featured a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing in a COVID-shortened five regular-season tournaments around the country. The top 40 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the five events qualified to compete in Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action each day of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com. and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour championship, will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 3 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside the REDCREST will premiere at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 18 on CBS. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.


Zaldain: Working with Extreme Weather

Since leaving the St. Johns River just under two weeks ago, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Zaldain has been through quite the roller coaster of challenges. After missing the cut in Florida, Zaldain jumped in his Tundra and drove 17 hours home to Fort Worth, Texas in hopes of beating the winter weather forecasted for the weekend. 

Zaldain made it home to his wife Trait and their “puppy children” Saturday night; the winter storm settled in Sunday evening. The once-in-a-hundred year storm ended up wreaking havoc on Texas, along with much of the rest of the country. 

“The weather hit Sunday and had us in complete lockdown for six days straight,” Zaldain explained. “We got more snow, ice, and cold temperatures than I’ve ever seen during my time in Texas. It was wild. Our house was one of the hundreds of thousands of homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area that lost power and heat. Constantly burning firewood allowed us to keep it about 43-degrees in our house for the two days we were without power.” 

Instead of shorts and flip-flops like Zaldain was wearing in Florida, he and Trait had to break out the warmest Carhartt layers they owned while they hunkered down and waited for conditions to improve. Thankfully power came back on in their neighborhood and the weather got warmer, albeit slowly. 

After a few anxious days of worrying if they’d even be able to make it to Tennessee, Zaldain and his cameraman Johnny allowed two-days of travel for what would normally be an easy one day drive due to the slick, hazardous roads. 

The Yamaha Outboards pro had visions of big bass eating a Megabass MagDraft swimbait in current eddies occupying his mind throughout the entire drive to Knoxville, thanks to his experience in the 2019 Bassmaster Classic on this fishery. But the Tennessee River is offering a completely different puzzle for Elite Series anglers this time around.  He may have made it through the snowpocalypse in Texas, but Zaldain realized he had a whole new set of challenges in front of him. 

“I loved how this place set up back in 2019 but as soon as I rolled into town I could tell it was a very different river,” Zaldain admitted. “The water is colder and much lower than the last time we were here. There is a substantial shad die-off and this system is fishing extremely tough right now, but we still gotta get the job done.” 

3 Keys to Success this week 

Zaldain had three layers of warm-weather Carhartt gear on as he launched his Skeeter-Yamaha on the final morning of official practice, hinting that spring has not yet sprung in east Tennessee. 

The always dangerous Elite Series pro offered his three keys to success this week on the Tennessee River: Dealing with the weather, targeting 18-inch smallmouth, and bringing five keeper bass to the scales each day. 

“As hard as it is to believe, this part of the country is dealing with the same cold-weather system that just wreaked Texas,” Zaldain said with disbelief. “Good, bad, or ugly dealing with what Mother Nature throws at you is always important during springtime. My second and third keys to success are related, because I am playing with fire this week and targeting smallmouth. Which means I need to focus on catching five keepers a day.

“Smallmouth bass have to be 18-inches to be considered a keeper on this stretch of the Tennessee River, and they are not easy to come by. We always want to bring five fish to the scales each day, but the guy who can catch five keeper smallmouth a day will have a great chance to win this derby.” 

Zaldain’s ability to remain optimistic and roll with the punches has been on full display the past week. The eventual winner of this tournament will need to exhibit many of the same qualities. Don’t be surprised if the Zaldaingerous one channels some of his magic from the 2019 Bassmaster Classic on this fishery and finds himself near the top of the leaderboard by the time the weekend rolls around.

 


Cherry Cashes in with Toyota Bonus Bucks

Hank Cherry started the 2021 Bassmaster Elite Series season with a strong 6th place finish on the St. Johns River just over a week ago and earned an extra $3,000 for being the highest finishing Toyota Bonus Bucks participant in the process. 

I caught up with Cherry just as he pulled his Basscat boat from the Tennessee River Tuesday night to talk about his St. Johns finish and contrast that Florida fishery to this week’s playing field. 

Cherry relied on The General from Berkley PowerBait’s MaxScent line of soft plastics and mixed in a Brian’s Bee Series Propbait to catch his fish in Florida, but promised it is a “whole different world” this week in Knoxville for Elite Series competitors. 

“I am trading The General and a topwater for winter presentations like a Megabass Jerkbait and a jig,” Cherry laughed. “I was looking for water temperatures ranging from 61 to 65 degrees on the St. Johns. Here on the Tennessee River this week I am happy to see 41 to 43 degrees. These fish are coming out of the deep freeze this week, but I won’t complain. The Tennessee River has been good to me.” 

The reigning Bassmaster Classic Champ credited slowing way down for one of the best finishes of his career in Florida, but admitted the decision to stay put in certain areas wasn’t natural or easy for him to do. Cherry typically opts to cover water relatively quickly with a jerkbait, even in Florida. 

One decision that was easy for Cherry was buying a brand new 2021 Toyota Tundra before the start of the season, the 6th Tundra he has owned in his professional fishing career.  The loyal Bonus Bucks participant offered a myriad of reasons he continues to support Toyota. 

“The Bonus Bucks program and Toyota’s reliability should be enough to convince any angler who tows a boat to trust this brand,” Cherry said. “But my local dealer, Scott Clark Toyota in North Carolina, and their staff are the best in the world when it comes to working with bass fishermen. Whether I’m needing routine maintenance, something fixed in a hurry, or buying a new truck they make everything a breeze.” 

Fortunately, you don’t have to be one of the best anglers in the world like Hank Cherry to reap the rewards of the Bonus Bucks program. As long as you tow your boat with a 2017 or newer Toyota tow vehicle and fish in one of the hundreds of supported tournaments you are eligible for extra earnings from the popular contingency program. 

Whether you fish in college, walleye tournaments, or compete in countless bass fishing derbies from weekend events to the Bassmaster Elite Series you should head to https://www.toyotatrucksbonusbucks.com/ to get signed up and learn more. Toyota Bonus Bucks is absolutely free to register for and is the only vehicle rewards program that pays you to fish. 

 


Thrift Wins Qualifying Round at REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage on Lake Eufaula

Top 20 Pros Advance – 10 Fish Wednesday, 10 Fish Thursday, Top 5 from Each Group Compete on Championship Friday

EUFAULA, Ala. (Feb. 23, 2021) – Pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, weighed in 15 bass totaling 50 pounds, 4 ounces over the first two days of competition to win the two-day Qualifying Round at REDCREST 2021, the Bass Pro Tour championship at Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. The five-day competition features a field of 40 of the best anglers in the world from the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour competing for a top cash prize of $300,000.

The field is now cut to 20, and weights are zeroed as competition moves into the Knockout Round. A field of 10 anglers (Group A) will compete on Wednesday and the remaining 10 anglers (Group B) will compete Thursday. The top five anglers from each day advance to the fifth and final day of competition, Championship Friday.

Lake Eufaula was a bit tougher for anglers on Tuesday, however quite a few anglers, including Thrift, spent most of the day practicing and searching for new areas to fish during the upcoming Knockout Round.

“I didn’t catch a lot of fish today – only two scorable bass – but it was a fun day because I eliminated a lot of water,” Thrift said. “That’s pretty much all we got accomplished today, but that’s just a part of it. Sometimes that’s almost as good as finding the winning hole, because now I’ve got a great idea of what not to do when I get back out there, and that’s definitely a plus.

“It feels great to be leading in my very first REDCREST, but I’ve still got some work left to do,” Thrift said. “You can’t win if you don’t make it to the Championship Round. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and seeing what we can do.”

Reigning REDCREST champion, Oklahoma’s Edwin Evers, had a great day Tuesday, catching eight bass weighing 22 pounds, 4 ounces – the largest weight of the day – to vault from 25th place to inside the Toro Top 20 Cut and end the day in 8th place.

“I caught the largest weight of the day, and I know that doesn’t mean a lot to some of the guys that laid off their fish, but it gives me a lot of confidence going into the Knockout Round,” Evers said. “The majority of my fish today came on a Berkley PowerBait Power Hog. I’m learning more and putting more pieces of the puzzle together each day and I can’t wait to get back out there and compete in the Knockout Round.”

The top 20 pros that made the cut and will advance in competition at Lake Eufaula are:

1st:           Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., 15 bass, 50-4
2nd:          Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., 12 bass, 39-7
3rd:          Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla., 10 bass, 36-3
4th:           Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tenn., 10 bass, 33-8
5th:           Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan, 10 bass, 33-2
6th:           Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., 11 bass, 31-1
7th:           Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., nine bass, 31-1
8th:           Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., 11 bass, 30-0
9th:           Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, Texas, 10 bass, 29-7
10th:        Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., nine bass, 28-12
11th:        David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., eight bass, 28-7
12th:        Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., 10 bass, 27-4
13th:        Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., eight bass, 27-0
14th:        Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., seven bass, 26-8
15th:        Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn., eight bass, 26-4
16th:        Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., nine bass, 26-3
17th:        Jordan Lee of Cullman, Ala., six bass, 23-5
18th:        Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark., nine bass, 23-3
19th:        Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., seven bass, 22-15
20th:        Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn., eight bass, 20-10

Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 105 bass weighing 101 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 35 pros on Tuesday, which included eight 5-pounders and eight 4-pounders caught.

Fletcher Shryock of Guntersville, Alabama, won Tuesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing in a 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth during Period 1. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler that weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $7,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.

The 10 anglers that will compete in the Group A Knockout Round on Wednesday are:

Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla.
Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark.
Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala.
Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark.
David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va.
Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C.
Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn.
Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark.
Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn.
Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich.

The 10 anglers that will compete in the Group B Knockout Round on Thursday are:

Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan.
Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tenn.
Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla.
Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C.
Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, Texas
Jordan Lee of Cullman, Ala.
Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn.
Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan
Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla.
Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C.

REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour championship at Lake Eufaula, is hosted by the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.

All 40 Anglers competed on Day 1 (Monday) and 2 (Tuesday) of the event. Now, the field is cut to just the top 20 based on two-day total cumulative weight. The remaining 20 anglers are split into two groups – 10 compete on Day 3 (Wednesday) and 10 compete on Day 4 (Thursday). The top five anglers from each group based on total single-day weight will advance to the fifth and final day of competition (Friday), where weights are zeroed and the angler that catches the highest total weight on the final day will be crowned the REDCREST 2021 champion.

Attendance is limited to competing anglers, essential staff and media covering the event only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com

The 2020 Bass Pro Tour featured a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing in a COVID-shortened five regular-season tournaments around the country. The top 40 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the five events qualified to compete in Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action each day of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com. and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour championship, will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 3 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside the REDCREST will premiere at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 18 on CBS. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

For complete details and updated information on REDCREST 2021, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and YouTube.


Parker Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on Lake Norman

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 23, 2021) – Boater John Parker of Gaffney, South Carolina, won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine at Lake Norman in Mooresville, North Carolina. Parker won by a 1-ounce margin, earning $5,843 for his victory at the event, hosted by the Mooresville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

TOP 10 RESULTS

RANK BOATER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st John Parker of Gaffney, S.C. 5 14-5 $5,843
2nd Craig Chambers of Charlotte, N.C. 5 14-4 $2,921
3rd Eric Moser of Concord, N.C. 5 13-8 $1,948
4th Christopher Brown of Lexington, N.C. 5 12-15 $1,363
5th Shane Lehew of Catawba, N.C. 5 12-0 $1,169
6th John Wiese of Charlotte, N.C. 4 11-11 $2,031
7th Curtis Dillon of Advance, N.C. 5 11-0 $974
8th Ben Hudson of Lynchburg, Va. 4 10-15 $876
9th Ron Farrow of Rock Hill, S.C. 5 10-13 $779
10th Aaron Digh of Denver, N.C. 5 10-12 $682

 

RANK STRIKE KING CO-ANGLER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Michael Benfield of Hickory, N.C. 4 6-15 $2,921
2nd Ernest McIntyre of Fayetteville, N.C. 4 6-14 $1,461
3rd Charles Wood of Thomasville, N.C. 3 6-11 $973
4th David L. Deciucis of Chester, Va. 3 6-10 $682
5th Drew Lumpkin of Cameron, N.C. 3 6-2 $584
6th Mike Shatley of North Wilkesboro, N.C. 4 6-1 $536
7th Artie Phillips of Monroe, N.C. 2 5-14 $727
8th Grant McPeters of Marion, N.C. 3 5-11 $438
9th William Britt of Clarkton, N.C. 2 5-5 $390
10th Scottie Elswick of Gordon, W.V. 2 4-15 $341

CONTINGENCY AWARDS

AWARD NAME CONTINGENCY PAYOUT
Boater Berkley Big Bass John Wiese of Charlotte, N.C. 5-pound, 15-ounce bass $910
Strike King Co-Angler Berkley Big Bass Patrick Brondos of Wilkesboro, N.C. 4-pound bass $455
Strike King Co-Angler Berkley Big Bass Artie Phillips of Monroe, N.C. 4-pound bass $240
Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus Matt Stark of Mooresville, N.C. Eligible Phoenix Boat* $500

* 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 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

WINNING BAITS

ANGLER BAIT COLOR
Boater Jerkbait Did Not Disclose
Strike King Co-Angler Shaky Head & Rapala Shad Rap Crankbait Did Not Disclose

2021 QUALIFICATION OPPORTUNITIES

EVENT DATE LOCATION HOST
North Carolina Division – Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship Oct. 14-16 Lake Murray, Columbia, S.C. Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board
Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American June 3-5 Douglas Lake, Dandridge, Tenn. Jefferson County Department of Tourism
The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The top six finishers in each regional will then qualify for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.


Smith Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on Harris Chain of Lakes

California’s Sharp Wins Strike King Co-Angler Division

Leesburg, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2021) – Boater Corey Smith of Clermont, Florida, won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine at Harris Chain of Lakes presented by Googan Baits in Leesburg, Florida. Smith earned $6,000 for his victory at the event, hosted by Visit Lake County, Florida.

TOP 10 RESULTS

RANK BOATER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Corey Smith of Clermont, Fla. 5 29-9 $6,000
2nd Neil Nix of Okeechobee, Fla. 5 27-3 $3,000
3rd Tyler Sheppard of Jacksonville, Fla. 5 23-4 $2,000
4th Eric Panzironi of Longwood, Fla. 5 23-2 $1,400
5th Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Fla. 5 22-8 $1,200
6th Michael King of Riverview, Fla. 4 22-7 $1,100
7th Tim Frederick of Leesburg, Fla. 5 22-1 $1,000
8th Casey Marsh of Dunnellon, Fla. 5 21-15 $900
9th Jonathan Hoobler of Alachua, Fla. 5 19-7 $800
10th Joel Willert of Prior Lake, Minn. 5 19-1 $900
RANK STRIKE KING CO-ANGLER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Brennon Sharp of Folsom, Calif. 5 21-6 $3,500
2nd Joshua Dunn of Mulberry, Fla. 5 20-3 $1,500
3rd Justin Brown of Frostproof, Fla. 5 18-4 $1,050
3rd Luis Lindstedt of Melbourne, Fla. 5 18-4 $850
5th Dawson Wiles of Fruit Cove, Fla. 4 16-2 $600
6th John Brown of Deltona, Fla. 5 15-15 $550
7th Kenneth Hunnicutt of Jacksonville, Fla. 5 14-11 $500
8th Adam Giran of Wesley Chapel, Fla. 5 14-3 $450
9th Sean Ripley of Lakeland, Fla. 5 13-13 $400
10th Bill Richards of Davenport, Fla. 3 12-13 $350
CONTINGENCY AWARDS
AWARD NAME CONTINGENCY PAYOUT
Boater Berkley Big Bass T.W. Garten of East Palatka, Fla. 10-pound, 7-ounce bass $1,000
Strike King Co-Angler Berkley Big Bass Brennon Sharp of Folsom, Calif. 8-pound, 10-ounce bass $500
Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus Matt Gee of Grand Island, Fla. Eligible Phoenix Boat* $500
* 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 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

WINNING BAITS

ANGLER BAIT COLOR
Boater Jigs N/A
Strike King Co-Angler Jigs N/A
2021 QUALIFICATION OPPORTUNITIES
EVENT DATE LOCATION HOST
Gator Division – Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship Oct. 21-23 St. Johns River, Palatka, Fla. Visit Lake County, Florida
Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American June 3-5 Douglas Lake, Dandridge, Tenn. Jefferson County Department of Tourism
The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The top six finishers in each regional will then qualify for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.

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


B.A.S.S. Conservation Director Named To National Fish Habitat Partnership Board

February 23, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Gene Gilliland, B.A.S.S. Conservation Director, has accepted a seat on the National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) Board. Chartered by Congress in 2006, NFHP coordinates 20 regionally-based Fish Habitat Partnerships, each working to improve fish habitat, and has supported more than 1,000 projects benefiting fish habitat in all 50 states.

“In this new role with the National Fish Habitat Partnership Board of Directors, I will be representing not only the 515,000 B.A.S.S. members but the broader community of freshwater recreational anglers,” said Gilliland. “My goal in volunteering for the NFHP Board is to ensure that freshwater recreational fishing is a priority in the decision making and funding process.”

Federal funds flow through NFHP in the form of grants to local entities that do the hands-on work of protecting and restoring fish habitat in streams, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, while the organization also helps leverage state, tribal and private funding resources to support these programs. While many of the partnerships have species-specific interests — such as brook trout or salmon — others are regionally focused, such as protecting Midwest glacial lakes and the Great Lakes Basin.

The bipartisan America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, which passed in late 2020, requires that Fish Habitat Partnership projects address the causes and processes behind the decline of fish or fish habitats, achieve measurable habitat conservation results and lead to increased fishing opportunities.

“As an angler myself, I am excited to learn more and support these projects,” said Gilliland. “Healthy and abundant habitats produce more fish. And when there are more fish, there are more opportunities for recreational fishermen.”

B.A.S.S. has a long history of holding positions on national-level boards and councils that deal with fishery policy. B.A.S.S. already works with the Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership and its Friends of Reservoirs Foundation (FOR). It is the only partnership that has a nationwide reach and works primarily to enhance sportfish populations. Several B.A.S.S. Nation chapters have received grants through the Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership and the FOR Foundation.

Among the other conservation and advocacy groups B.A.S.S. partners with are the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, which works with Congress, governors and state legislatures to protect and advance hunting, angling, recreational shooting and trapping, the American Sportfishing Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.


Thrift Leads on Day One of REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage on Lake Eufaula

North Carolina Pro Catches 13 Bass Weighing 45 Pounds Even, Full Field of 40 Anglers to Compete Again Tuesday

EUFAULA, Ala. (Feb. 22, 2021) – A field of the top 40 pros from the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour converged on Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama, this morning for the start of REDCREST 2021, the Bass Pro Tour championship. The five-day competition, which awards a top cash prize of $300,000 to the winner, is being live-streamed online and filmed for television broadcast on CBS, the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Channel.

Pro Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, weighed in 13 bass totaling 45 pounds even, to take the early lead after Day One of the Qualifying Round. Thrift holds a 13-pound, 14-ounce, lead over Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tennessee, who caught nine bass weighing 31-2, good for second place.

“Today went about as good as I could have imagined,” said Thrift in the post-game General Tire Take Out show. “It started out kind of slow – it took me an hour, an hour and a half to kind of figure out where the fish were setting. Once I found them, I ended up catching five or six on a jerkbait and a Damiki swimbait. When they quit, I went running around and caught a couple on a shaky-head and hit another spot and ended up catching a 7 (pounder) and a 5 (pounder). I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

“I’ve got about 50 rods on my deck, and I think I caught a bass on most of them today,” Thrift joked. “I caught fish on a lot of different baits. My big one came on a 4-inch swimbait with light line – when I first hooked it and was fighting it on the light line I felt like it was way too big to be a bass. I caught it with a 7-foot medium-heavy Fitzgerald Stunner rod paired with a (Abu Garcia) Revo MGX reel and P-Line Tactical 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line.”

With only the top 20 pros advancing after tomorrow’s day of competition, Thrift’s 30-pound cushion over 20th place will allow him to spend Tuesday’s day of competition expanding on his pattern and looking for new areas.

“I’m going to use tomorrow as a practice day,” Thrift went on to say. “I don’t think I have enough right now to win the event, so I’ve got to try to find more. There are going to be a lot of fish in new water in the next few days – we’re looking at three days of sunshine and 70-degree weather. The water is going to warm a lot, and these fish could change up really quickly. It’s almost March in Southern Alabama, so these fish are ready to spawn. Two or three of these hot sunny days, they can push up shallow. The first person to find that can definitely win this event, so I’m going to spend a lot of time looking for that tomorrow.”

Like Thrift, DeFoe credited a jerkbait as a big part of his success today as well.

“I switched up to the jerkbait this morning and that was the big player for me today,” DeFoe said. “The 13 Fishing Loco Special was the deal. Those fish wanted something a little slower, something you could pause and let hang right in front of their faces. I did catch a really nice one late in the day on a Terminator Pro Series spinnerbait, but the jerkbait was key. I feel like I’m in pretty good shape and all in all, today was a great start. I’ve got a little bit of a cushion, so tomorrow I’m going to try to find something else for later this week to go with what I’ve got.”

The top 20 pros after Day One on Lake Eufaula are:
1st:          Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., 13 bass, 45-0
2nd:         Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tenn., nine bass, 31-2
3rd:         Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Ark., nine bass, 26-4
4th:         Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kan., nine bass, 26-3
5th:         Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., seven bass, 26-3
6th:         Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Mich., six bass, 20-10
7th:         Zack Birge of Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 20-9
8th:         Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., five bass, 20-8
9th:         Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan, six bass, 19-15
10th:       Andy Montgomery of Blacksburg, S.C., six bass, 18-9
11rh:      Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, Texas, six bass, 17-5
12th:       Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., five bass, 15-5
13th:       Fred Roumbanis of Russellville, Ark., six bass, 15-2
14th:       Mark Rose of Wynne, Ark., five bass, 14-11
15th:       David Dudley of Lynchburg, Va., three bass, 13-7
16th:       Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., four bass, 12-14
17th:       Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 12-5
18th:       Scott Suggs of Alexander, Ark., three bass, 11-13
19th:       Wesley Strader of Spring City, Tenn., four bass, 9-14
20th:       Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tenn., two bass, 9-10

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 156 bass weighing 492 pounds, 8 ounces caught by 38 pros on Monday, which included one 7-pounder, one 6-pounder and 11 5-pounders caught from Lake Eufaula.

Thrift won Monday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing in a 7-pound, 1-ounce largemouth during Period 2. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler that weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $7,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.

REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour championship at Lake Eufaula, is hosted by the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.

All 40 Anglers compete on Day 1 (Monday) and 2 (Tuesday) of the event. After two days of competition, the field is cut to just the top 20 based on two-day total cumulative weight. The remaining 20 anglers are split into two groups – 10 compete on Day 3 (Wednesday) and 10 compete on Day 4 (Thursday). The top five anglers from each group based on total single-day weight will advance to the fifth and final day of competition (Friday), where weights are zeroed and the angler that catches the highest total weight on the final day will be crowned the REDCREST 2021 champion.

Attendance is limited to competing anglers, essential staff and media covering the event only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com

The 2020 Bass Pro Tour featured a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing in a COVID-shortened five regular-season tournaments around the country. The top 40 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the five events qualified to compete in Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action each day of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com. and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour championship, will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 3 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside the REDCREST will premiere at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 18 on CBS. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

For complete details and updated information on REDCREST 2021, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and YouTube.


Washam Goes Wire-to-Wire, Wins Toyota Series Event on Lake Guntersville presented by Googan Baits

Tennessee Pro Wins by 5-pound, 10-ounce margin, Earns $55,650

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (Feb. 20, 2021) – Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Jimmy Washam of Covington, Tennessee, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 18 pounds, 15 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. at Lake Guntersville presented by Googan Baits in Guntersville, Alabama. Washam led the event wire-to-wire, and his three-day total of 15 bass weighing 58-5 earned him the win by a 5-pound, 10-ounce margin over second-place angler Sloan Pennington of Childersburg, Alabama . Washam earned the top payout of $55,650 in the first tournament of the 2021 Toyota Series Central Division presented by Neat Companies.

Looking back on the three-day tournament, Washam said Day 1 was a grind, with only two fish in the livewell by noon; however, he just happened to land on them later in the day.

“I went back to an earlier spot I’d fished, and they were just turned on,” he said. “They were trying to take the [bladed jig] out of my hand. I caught the 7-5 and the 4 [pounder] in the last 10 minutes.”

Washam brought in his smallest bag of the tournament on Thursday (Day 2), but it was big enough to provide him with a 5-plus-pound lead going into the final day.

His pattern throughout the week was a carbon copy of most other anglers in the field.

“The fish were in the grass,” he said. “That was no secret.”

Like most pros, Washam had an array of rods and baits on the front deck, but the one lure he said he depended on the most on Lake Guntersville was a Profound Outdoors Azuma Shaker Z lipless crankbait.

“They just really ate it this week,” he said. “It’s got more of a subtle action and a good flutter to it. Out of all the lipless crankbaits I tried in practice, it was the one that got the most bites.”

The top 10 pros on Lake Guntersville finished:
1st: Jimmy Washam of Covington, Tenn., 15 bass, 58-5, $55,650
2nd: Sloan Pennington of Childersburg, Ala., 15 bass, 52-11, $22,000
3rd: Jeff McLain of Columbus, Miss., 15 bass, 48-11, $15,250
4th: Ethan Greene Tracy of Eufaula, Ala., 15 bass, 46-3, $13,250
5th: Brennon McCord of Thompsonville, Ill., 15 bass, 46-1, $13,250
6th: Blake Hall of Guntersville, Ala., 14 bass, 44-6, $9,625
7th: Terry Fisher of Madison, Ala., 15 bass, 43-8, $8,300
8th: Mickey Beck of Lebanon, Tenn., 10 bass, 35-4, $7,300
9th: Cody Nichols of Fayette, Ala., 12 bass, 34-9, $6,300
10th: Steve Lopez of Oconomowoc, Wisc., 10 bass, 29-9, $4,700

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Washam also won the Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division Wednesday, with a largemouth weighing 7 pounds, 5 ounces. Greg Lamb of Birchwood, Tennessee, won Thursday’s Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, bringing an 8-pound, 9-ounce bass to the scale. Both anglers earned an additional $150.

McCord took home an extra $1,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF BIG5 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 BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

Larry Franks, Jr. of Wilsonville, Alabama, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Friday with a three-day total of 14 bass weighing 41 pounds, 11 ounces. Franks 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 Lake Guntersville finished:
1st: Larry Franks, Jr. of Wilsonville, Ala., 14 bass, 41-11, Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat w/115-hp outboard
2nd: Keith Newsom of Memphis, Tenn., 12 bass, 36-4, $6,625
3rd: Zach Britton of Hazel Green, Ala., 10 bass, 28-5, $5,300
4th: Wayne Crouch of Jamestown, Tenn., nine bass, 26-1, $4,150
5th: Hayden Marbut of Birmingham, Ala., nine bass, 25-15, $3,650
6th: Shane Combs of New Hope, Ala., eight bass, 23-1, $3,150
7th: Jared Murphree of Toney, Ala., nine bass, 22-12, $2,650
8th: Blake Lewis of Pace, Fla., seven bass, 21-5, $2,075
9th: Alex Moore of Chester, Ill., seven bass, 20-14, $1,630
10th: Terry Ezzell of Russellville, Ala., seven bass, 19-9, $1,390

In the co-angler division, the Day One Berkley Big Bass award winner was Kyle Roy of Jamestown, Kentucky, with a 6-pound, 7-ounce bass, while the Day Two award went to Adam Slupcznynski of Austell, Georgia, with an 8-pound, 5-ounce bass. Both anglers earned a $100 bonus.

The Toyota Series at Lake Guntersville was presented by Googan Baits and was hosted by the Marshall County Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was the first of three regular-season tournaments in 2021 for anglers in the Central Division presented by Neat Companies. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will take place March 4-6 – the Toyota Series at Lake of the Ozarks presented by Fenwick in Osage Beach, Missouri. For a complete schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2021 Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The 2021 Toyota Series Championship presented by A.R.E. will be held Oct. 28-30 on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee, and is hosted by the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.


Second Bassmaster Elite Series Event Of 2021 Set For Tennessee River In Knoxville

The waters of Fort Loudoun Reservoir and Tellico Lake will play host to the Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River Feb. 25-28.

Photo by B.A.S.S.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Although it was the first time Knoxville had hosted a Bassmaster event, the 2019 Bassmaster Classic was one of the most memorable Classics ever, particularly for sixth-place finisher Brandon Lester, who was floored by the support from his fellow Tennesseans.

“It was awesome. It made me proud to be from Tennessee, it really did,” the Elite Series veteran from Fayetteville, Tenn., said. “Putting in right next to Neyland Stadium was a really cool experience. We had massive crowds every morning cheering us on, and it was really a cool deal. I was excited when I saw Knoxville pop back up on the schedule this year, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting back up there.

“I’m hoping I can tap back into what I found in practice then and pick up where I left off a little bit.”

Competition for the Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River will be Feb. 25-28 on the waters of Fort Loudoun Reservoir and Tellico Lake. Daily takeoffs will be at 7 a.m. ET from Calhoun’s On The River Boat Dock. Weigh-ins on Days 1 and 2 will be held at 3 p.m. at Volunteer Landing Marina before shifting to World’s Fair Park Performance Lawn for Days 3 and 4.

With the exception of this week’s frigid weather, Lester said Eastern Tennessee has had a fairly mild winter and the Tennessee River has avoided any major flooding. He said that should set up for a tournament similar to that 2019 Classic, which Knoxville resident Ott DeFoe won with a three-day total of 49-3.

“Most of the fish caught were caught in less than 6 or 7 feet, which is typical of the Tennessee River this time of the year, and I don’t see it being any different,” Lester said. “I figure it will be another late winter to early spring prespawn. I think it will still be won shallow, predominantly with largemouth.”

Current plays a key role on this section of the Tennessee River, Lester said, and it provides several different options for anglers to target, including flats, creeks, bluff walls and rock transitions. He said bridges could also come into play, along with boat docks. Shallow-running crankbaits, jigs, bladed jigs and spinnerbaits will be productive lures, with jerkbaits coming into play if the water clarity is right.

Largemouth and smallmouth are the dominant species, but a keeper smallmouth bass must measure at least 18 inches. Lester said while very few anglers went to Tellico in the 2019 Classic, the lake has big smallmouth and anglers that figure out the bite in that lake have a chance to excel.

“Tellico is kind of the X factor. In that Classic last time, I think there were only a couple of guys who fished on Tellico Lake. It is a lot clearer and it has some big smallmouth, but nobody really tapped into that,” Lester said. “If somebody ever does, smallmouth may be a bigger player than they were in that Classic. There is a good population of them on Loudoun as well, and you will see them show up.

“There will be some mixed bags, just like last time. As a matter of fact, on the third day of the Classic, I think I had 18 pounds and had two big smallmouth in my bag. There is always that chance of catching a big smallmouth.”

While 8- to 10-pound fish are a rarity on Loudoun and Tellico, Lester said there could be a couple of bags over 20 pounds weighed, and a four-day total of 64 pounds will likely be hard to beat.

The full field of anglers will fish the first two days, with only the Top 50 advancing to the semifinal round on Saturday. The Top 10 remaining anglers will fish Championship Sunday with a $100,000 first-place prize on the line.

Live coverage for all four days of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live from the tournament beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.


Texas Reservoir To Host Bassmaster Kayak Series National Championship

February 19, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After kicking off the inaugural tournament at the 50th Bassmaster Classic in March 2020, the country’s best kayak anglers are Classic-bound once more, this time competing for a National Championship trophy and over $97,000 in prizes. Officials have announced that the Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series National Championship will be held at Possum Kingdom Lake in Mineral Wells, Texas, as part of festivities surrounding the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk in nearby Fort Worth.

The National Championship at Possum Kingdom Lake will be a two-day event, June 9-10, 2021. The awards ceremony will be held on the Bassmaster Classic stage at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth on June 11 prior to the Day 1 Classic weigh-in.

“With this new trail, we wanted to give kayak anglers an opportunity to show what they can do from a small craft,” B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart said. “Both the anglers and host communities have embraced these tournaments during the first season and we’re looking forward to 2021 and to naming our first Kayak National Champion in June.

“It’s just one more opportunity for bass anglers. That’s what we’re all about.”

Possum Kingdom Lake, located in the rugged canyon country of the Brazos River Valley, was the first water supply reservoir constructed in the Brazos River basin and is renowned for offering some of the clearest water in the southwest.

After launching the Kayak Series 2020 season on Logan Martin Lake in Pell City, Ala., the series made stops at Lake Fork in Alba, Texas, Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis., Clear Lake in Lakeport, Calif., and concluded the season at Chickamauga Lake in Dayton, Tenn.

Among the anticipated field of 270 anglers who qualified for the National Championship will be 2020 event winners Jim Davis of Knoxville, Tenn., Cody Milton of Heber Springs, Ark., Barry Davis of Startex, S.C., Rus Snyders of Nashville, Tenn., and Tyler Cole of Hopkinton, Iowa. B.A.S.S. officials will be contacting all eligible participants with tournament specifics and registration information.

Instead of a standard weigh-in that uses scales to measure pounds and ounces, anglers will practice “catch, photograph and release” to determine the standings.

When an angler catches a bass, he or she will photograph the fish lying on a standard-issue measuring board and submit the photo through a special mobile app provided by TourneyX. The boards will measure each fish in inches down to a quarter of an inch, and the angler with the longest five-bass limit will win.

For more information, visit Bassmaster.com/kayak.


Plano Renews Sponsorship with Major League Fishing

Leading Supplier of Plastic Organizational Products Renews as Official Sponsor of Major League Fishing Cup and Bass Pro Tour events

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 18, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that Plano Molding, an industry leader in outdoor equipment protection and storage solutions, has extended its sponsorship agreement through the 2021 season.

“Plano’s EDGE™ series of tackle organizers give our anglers the advantage they need across all levels of MLF tournaments,” said MLF President and CEO Jim Wilburn. “Competitive anglers know that they don’t have any time to waste. They need to be able to grab the right bait at a moment’s notice, and Plano’s innovative solutions make that possible. We are excited to feature Plano across our media platforms and look forward to continuing our successful partnership.”

Plano will receive exposure through MLF’s website and social media communities and will be the presenting sponsor of the Tackle Box Challenge, a fun feature segment produced for web, social and in-show broadcast that showcases various MLF pro anglers trying to guess which of their fellow anglers a tackle box belongs to. The brand will also be prominently featured in the filmed-for-television MLF Cup events, including logos on the angler jerseys and wrapped boats.

“The top pros have been using Plano storage for years. All you have to do is look in their boats and you will see dozens of Plano boxes in use, so really we have always been a part of tournament fishing,” commented Chris Russell, Marketing Director for Plano Molding. “We work closely with many of the best anglers to create storage solutions that give them an edge on the water and we are looking forward to showcasing that with the MLF fans.”

For more information about MLF, their tournaments and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. To learn more about Plano, visit PlanoMolding.com.


Professional Angler Terry “Big Show” Scroggins Starts 15th Year with Toyota Pro Angler Reaches Milestone with Automaker as his Title Sponsor

Palatka, Fla. – February 2, 2021 - Professional bass fisherman Terry “Big Show” Scroggins has accumulated plenty of accolades throughout his eighteen-year fishing career, but 2021 represents a special milestone for Scroggins; 15 years of partnership with Toyota trucks. 

The Palatka, Florida native represents Toyota on the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour tournament trail along with sponsors such as Triton Boats, Carhartt apparel, Mercury Marine, Power Pole, and Mud Hole Custom Tackle. 

There have been plenty of changes during Scroggins’ stint as a pro fisherman, but treating others how he’d want to be treated, widespread respect from his peers, and loyalty to Toyota have remained constant themes. 

Scroggins is a favorite among fans and competitors alike.  Whether he’s on the water competing, helping a fellow angler troubleshoot their equipment, or grilling up rib eye steaks for tournament staff you can bet Scroggins is wearing a Toyota hat and a smile. 

“I’m proud to be a part of Team Toyota for a long list of reasons,” explained Scroggins. “Not only does Toyota support me, they support the fishing industry as a whole. They sponsor every major bass fishing league in the country and facilitate the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, which rewards anglers whether they’re a pro or a weekend warrior. If you fish, Toyota has your back.”

Scroggins estimates he’s logged nearly a million miles in a Toyota Tundra – almost entirely while towing a bass boat. More impressive than his mileage total is Scroggins’ complete lack of major mechanical failures or issues.

He said it is the reliability of his Tundra that would make it his choice regardless.  “I would be using a Toyota Tundra to tow my tournament rig across the country even if I wasn’t representing the brand,” said Scroggins.  “In order to make a living on a professional fishing trail, you have to show up no matter the conditions; my Toyota Tundra has gotten me there every time without anything other than standard maintenance; if only the fishing was that dependable.”

In between long hauls Scroggins has accrued over $2 million in tournament winnings, which includes five professional wins and eleven trips to the Bassmaster Classic. Pretty impressive for a former automotive painter turned full-time tournament angler, after local performances offered the opportunity to compete at a professional level. With his success, Scroggins gratitude and loyalty to his supporters has never waivered. 

The Bass Pro Tour tournament season kicks off March 21st on the legendary Sam Rayburn Reservoir for Scroggins and his fellow competitors. This east Texas fishery is rich with fishing history and is famous for big bass. After undergoing a total knee replacement in the fall of 2020 to “fix his bad wheel”, Scroggins is excited to put on a “Big Show” in 2021.  

About Terry “Big Show” Scroggins
Known as “Big Show” MLF angler Terry Scroggins has lived up to his nickname throughout his career.  the Florida native is a veteran of hundreds of professional fishing tournaments, Scroggins has claimed five victories, 47 top 10 finishes and earned more than $1.9-million in his professional fishing career, and was a member of the four-man team that won the very first Toyota Texas Bass Classic in 2007.  His sponsors include Toyota, Triton, Boat Mercury, Carhartt, Power-Pole, Mud Hole, T-H Marine, Stanford Baits, Minn Kota, Humminbird and Lew's. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/bigshowscroggins, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/terry_scroggins and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/bigshowscroggins

 


Major League Fishing Announces Champions Club Membership Program

Membership Offering Includes New Bass Fishing Tackle Subscription and Webinars tied to the MLF Bass Pro Tour

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 18, 2021) – As part of several new membership program offerings from Major League Fishing (MLF) in 2021, MLF recently announced the Champions Club, a unique fishing subscription service tailored specifically to anglers looking to take their skills to the next level with content and products from the sport’s top pros and industry-leading brands. Champions Club is available for preorder now and will officially launch in March, with the first subscription boxes delivered in just a few weeks.

The MLF Champions Club is the first and only monthly subscription service that follows a professional bass fishing tour, offering a wide variety of benefits including five to six premium lures from industry-leading brands delivered each month, exclusive discount codes on fishing gear and outdoor products, exclusive webinars and an 8x10 Champion’s Collectors Photo, along with opportunities to win loads of free product through monthly members-only Champions Challenges.

“The Champions Club is the premier monthly tackle subscription in the industry and a no-brainer for bass anglers that are looking to learn how to perfect the same baits that we throw out on the Bass Pro Tour,” said Berkley Baits pro Jordan Lee, the 2020 Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year.

Each month subscribers will find a new Champions Club subscription box at their doorstep. The MLF team is constantly working with professional anglers and top brands to identify the hottest baits on the market. These premium selections are sourced from all over the industry and hand-picked for inclusion in each pack. Each product included in the Champions Club is accompanied by an in-depth, how-to video to maximize its effectiveness on the water.

In addition to sourcing the premium lures, MLF has also partnered with top outdoor brands to provide exclusive discounts to Champions Club members. Discount offerings will change each month, including offers on items such as rods, reels, baits, equipment, sunglasses, apparel and other outdoor products.

A Champions Club subscription is $29.99 per month, with each monthly pack containing an estimated value of $150.

For complete details and updated information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and YouTube.


Major League Fishing Adds Old Wisconsin Sausage to Sponsorship Lineup

Premier Provider of Premium Hand-Crafted Naturally Smoked Meat Snacks Signs on as Presenting Sponsor of REDCREST 2021

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 17, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, has announced a sponsorship agreement with Old Wisconsin Sausage, a leading provider of premium, hand-crafted, naturally-smoked meat snacks for the 2021 season. The agreement marks the first time that Old Wisconsin Sausage will enter into the fishing and outdoors realm and market to the loyal MLF consumer base.

“When the opportunity arose for us to collaborate with Major League Fishing to become the presenting sponsor of the REDCREST Tournament, we jumped on it immediately,” said Tom Buddig, Executive Vice President of Old Wisconsin. “Expanding the Old Wisconsin Sausage consumer marketing efforts to grow brand awareness and product sales, while strengthening its relationships with retail partners, has been a No. 1 priority for the company.  It’s exciting to know this national sponsorship will allow the brand a chance to significantly expand its promotional footprint and to engage with Major League Fishing fans in a meaningful way. Our end goal is to delight as many consumers as possible with the Old Wisconsin, great-tasting, hard-wood smoked sausage snacks. And this partnership provides a certain avenue to help us accomplish it.”

As part of the agreement, the Sheboygan, Wisconsin-based company will receive exposure through multiple MLF outlets, including the MLF website and social media communities, as well as the presenting sponsorship of REDCREST 2021, the Bass Pro Tour Championship, scheduled for Feb. 22-26 at Lake Palestine in Flint, Texas. Old Wisconsin Sausage will also run a sweepstakes contest in 2021 with the top prize being a day on the water fishing with MLF pro angler Edwin Evers.

“Old Wisconsin Sausages are a quality product that we are thrilled to be partnering with,” said MLF President and CEO Jim Wilburn. “Their line of smoked meat snacks are a perfect fit with Major League Fishing. In the boat, in the car, or at home, Old Wisconsin Sausages are a delicious snack that can be enjoyed anywhere. We look forward to an extremely successful partnership, starting with REDCREST 2021 later this week.”

For more information about MLF, their tournaments and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. To learn more about Old Wisconsin Sausage, visit OldWisconsin.com.


MLF Postpones Two Phoenix Bass Fishing League Events Scheduled for Saturday

Mississippi Division Event at Ross Barnett Reservoir and Ozark Division Event at Table Rock Lake to be Rescheduled Due to Inclement Weather, Rescheduled Dates and Locations Announced

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 16, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today that two Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, have been canceled due to inclement weather. The Mississippi Division event at Ross Barnett Reservoir in Brandon, Mississippi and the Ozark Division at Table Rock Lake in Kimberling, Missouri, will both be rescheduled.

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Gator Division event at Harris Chain of Lakes and North Carolina Division event at Lake Norman will proceed as scheduled.

Due to inclement weather, four Phoenix Bass Fishing League events have been cancelled over the past week. MLF is working to reschedule those events and to alert participants as quickly as possible.

The current Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine rescheduled dates and locations are:

  • Cowboy Division at Toledo Bend presented by Berkley, originally scheduled for Feb. 13, has been moved to Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Brookeland, Texas, and will be held on Sunday, Mar. 7, following the Cowboy Division event on Sam Rayburn on Saturday, Mar. 6.
  • Arkie Division at Lake Ouachita presented by Abu Garcia, originally scheduled for Feb. 13, has been rescheduled at Lake Ouachita in Mount Ida, Ark., on Sunday, Mar. 7.
  • Mississippi Division at Ross Barnett Reservoir presented by Googan Baits, originally scheduled for Feb. 20, has been moved to Pickwick Lake in Iuka, Miss., and rescheduled to Saturday, Mar. 13.
  • Ozark Division at Table Rock Lake presented by Finwick, originally scheduled for Feb. 20, will be rescheduled at a later date.

Angler registration for the postponed events will automatically be carried over to the rescheduled events. For questions, call the MLF BIG5 customer service department at (270) 252-1000.

The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

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


Toro and Major League Fishing Announce Sponsorship Agreement

Toro Named Exclusive Lawn Mower Provider of Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, Title Sponsor of Bass Pro Tour Stage One at Sam Rayburn Reservoir

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 16, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, and Toro, a leading worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment, announced today a sponsorship agreement that will showcase the Toro brand to millions of outdoor and fishing enthusiasts. The tremendous marketing benefits offered by MLF in digital assets, social media and connections with the top anglers in the world make the organization a perfect fit for Toro, now the exclusive lawn mower provider of the MLF Bass Pro Tour.

“We are pleased that another major non-endemic brand has tapped into the sport of professional bass fishing,” said Jim Wilburn, MLF President and CEO. “Our MLF fans and anglers have shown tremendous loyalty to our sponsors’ products, and we are confident that Toro will find this partnership extremely beneficial. Toro is a great brand, and we’re excited that they’ve chosen the Bass Pro Tour to showcase their products.”

Toro has been named the title sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour Stage One event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir and will sponsor the “Toro Cut Line” – a television feature segment that will showcase anglers that are on the elimination bubble at each event. Toro will also receive exclusive exposure across numerous MLF media platforms, including its many tournaments and activation opportunities, website and MLF social media outlets.

“The partnership with Major League Fishing and Toro is a natural fit,” said Greg Janey, Toro VP of Residential and Landscape Contractor Businesses. “We’re avid fishing fans – and so are our customers. We’re thrilled to partner with Major League Fishing and two outstanding anglers in Jeff and Brent for the 2021 season.”

Bass Pro Tour anglers Jeff Sprague of Point, Texas, and Brent Chapman of Lake Quivira, Kansas, have been selected to represent Toro as brand ambassadors while competing across the country on the 2021 Bass Pro Tour. Sprague has finished in the top 5 of the ultra-competitive Angler of the Year race in each of the last two seasons, while Chapman finished the 2020 season ranked No. 12 and will look to build on his more than $2.2 million in career earnings.

“When I represent a major sponsor, it needs to be a company that I believe in and can really endorse wholeheartedly,” Sprague said. “I am honored to represent Toro in 2021. The company has been around for more than 100 years and they are known for upholding the highest of standards throughout their product line. That is extremely important to me, and I know this will be a successful partnership. I am extremely excited to get the 2021 Bass Pro Tour season underway.”

Along the same lines, Chapman said, "Having the support of a great sponsor like Toro is amazing and extremely valuable while I’m competing on the Bass Pro Tour. Now that we live on 20 acres and have a big beautiful lawn to mow, it’s great to have my Z Master 4000 from Toro to make the job fun and easy. The comfort of MyRIDE suspension and the great cut I get from the Turbo Force deck allows me to save time and get back to working on tackle and prepare for competition. Last year was a phenomenal season, and I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum for Toro right into 2021."

For more information about MLF, their tournaments and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. To learn more about Toro, visit Toro.com.


Bassmaster Elite At Sabine River Rescheduled For August

February 16, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Bassmaster Elite at Sabine River, originally scheduled for April 8-11, has been moved to the designated Elite Series make-up date Aug. 19-22.

Previous Elite events in Orange, Texas have drawn record-breaking crowds — in three previous visits, the crowds totaled more than 96,000; however, regional mandates currently in place would dramatically reduce the number of fans permitted on-site.

“Our priority is keeping everyone safe, the anglers, staff, community and all of the fans who want to attend this exciting event,” said Orange County Judge John Gothia. “We’re happy to be able to work with B.A.S.S. on rescheduling due to ongoing COVID safety concerns. Previous tournaments have brought Orange County waterways to the forefront in the fishing world, and we look forward to welcoming the Elite Series and its fans back to Orange, Texas later in the year.”

B.A.S.S. has emphasized over the past year that the organization is dedicated to ensuring both competition and fan activities are held in a safe and responsible manner and is working closely with local hosts and authorities to monitor each state’s mandates on crowd sizes and public spaces.

As the dates shift to August, when temperatures at this fishery on the Texas/Louisiana border are likely to soar, fish care will also be a major priority.

“In these hot, late-summer tournaments it is incumbent on the anglers and our team to be at the very top of our game to protect the fish,” said B.A.S.S. National Conservation Director Gene Gilliland. “Our goal is for all of these fish to be returned to the waters so that they can be caught again by other passionate bass anglers.”

Another Texas tournament, the Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork scheduled for April 22-25, is being hosted in Quitman, which is not currently experiencing the same local conditions restricting the size of outdoor gatherings.


Major League Fishing Launches MLF SHOP – New Online Merchandise Store

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 16, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the launch of a new, improved MLF SHOP , a new online store featuring authentic merchandise from professional bass fishing’s premier tournament organization. MLF’s e-commerce site went live Monday and is located at the recently re-vamped MajorLeagueFishing.com. The shop is an extension of the MLF brand identity, featuring the highest quality fishing and casual apparel with pricing at or below standard retail price. In addition, MLF members will receive a permanent 25% discount on every order at the MLF SHOP.

The launch of the MLF SHOP is based on a multi-phase approach heading into the start of the 2021 bass-fishing season. The first phase is focused on the new retail e-commerce and providing customers with a streamlined website and improved shopping experience. The next phase will highlight new designs, apparel, and swag. The final phase will emphasize site enhancements and showcase new angler products.

“We worked with a talented group of designers who have a passion for the outdoors,” said Michael Mulone, MLF Senior Director of Events & Partnerships. “The quality, along with the on-trend creative designs have brought the shop to a new level. We appreciate our fans and anglers and want to give them plenty of opportunities to wear MLF gear, on and off the water.

“Keeping the pricing competitive and putting in a hefty discount for members was one of our first decisions when revamping the online store,” Mulone continued.

Consumers of MLF’s official online store have access to a full catalog of men’s, women’s and youth apparel, headwear, accessories, and collections. New gear, including compelling, creative designs will be added throughout the year.

For complete details and updated information on the new MLF SHOP visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Skeeter Extends Long-Standing Partnership With Bassmaster Tournament Trail

February 16, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Skeeter, a world-class manufacturer of high-performance boats, has signed a multi-year deal to continue as an Official Premier Boat Sponsor of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk and the prestigious Bassmaster Tournament Trail through 2024.

“There is simply no better way for Skeeter to reach enthusiastic anglers and fans of fishing at all levels than through the Bassmaster events,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “Skeeter has a long heritage of helping anglers build memories on the water, and we’re thrilled to continue working with Skeeter on initiatives designed to reach new anglers and help fans experience the beauty of America’s waterways.”

Skeeter, which has been a B.A.S.S. sponsor since 2008, will be a Premier Sponsor for the Bassmaster Classic, Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship and the grass-roots TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation regional and championship tournaments.

“B.A.S.S. and Skeeter have a long history together and we’re excited to continue our relationship with an organization that shares our passion for fishing and boating,” said Jeff Stone, Senior Vice President, Skeeter Boats. “B.A.S.S. has a way of generating enthusiasm for competitive fishing that stands above the rest of the industry. We look forward to watching our Skeeter pros compete during the next four years, and we also look forward to introducing new boaters and anglers to the sport through our B.A.S.S. sponsorship.”

As a Premier Sponsor, Skeeter will be highlighted during Bassmaster LIVE, which is streamed on Bassmaster.com and broadcast Saturday and Sunday mornings on the FOX Sports platforms, and enjoy exposure in Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times magazines and across various social media platforms as well as showcasing their boats at live events, including the well-attended Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo.

During the 2021 season, 19 Elite Series pros will be depending on the reliability of their Skeeter boat, including two-time 2020 winner Brandon Palaniuk and rookie Pat Schlapper, who double-qualified for the 2021 Elite Series via the Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens and as TNT B.A.S.S. Nation Champion.

“I have run Skeeter boats since 2004,” said Schlapper. “Layout, drivability and reliability are all key factors for me. Skeeter has them all. Another huge bonus is their Real Money program. I won an extra $15,000 in Skeeter contingency money last year alone. I couldn't be more excited to be running a Skeeter FXR21 for another season.”


Skeet Reese Brings Home the Win at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Lake Okeechobee

CLEWISTON, Fla. (Feb. 14, 2021) – General Tire pro Skeet Reese of Auburn, California, already had a stacked resume when he crossed the stage on Sunday at the Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee in Clewiston, Florida. With 10 career victories, a 2007 Elite Series Angler of the Year title and a 2009 Bassmaster Classic championship, Reese is one of the top 5 tournament money-winners of all-time with more than $3.4 million in earnings. Reese added another monumental victory to the Major League Fishing (MLF) record books and is bringing a $100,000 check and a big trophy back home to California.

The win brought the 2019 merger of FLW (now known as the MLF BIG5) and MLF full circle and was a moment that marked the significance of the unity that now exists between the blended MLF family.

Reese weighed a five-bass limit on Sunday totaling a whopping 27 pounds, 9 ounces, to win by a 7-pound, 9-ounce margin over fellow Bass Pro Tour angler Chris Lane of Guntersville, Alabama. Lane weighed in five bass for 20 pounds, 1 ounce, including an 8-pound, 13-ounce giant, which carried him to a second place finish on the final day of competition.

“This feels really good,” said an emotional Reese. “I’ve had some tough fishing the last few years and to be able to come back and win; it is recognition that my new mindset and hard work paid off. Everybody who fishes tournaments does it to win and to be able to do it against this level of competition, with this big of a field – it’s priceless.”

Reese said he mixed up his approach each day and alternated between two key lures for the win, a 6″ Berkley PowerBait The General and an unnamed green-pumpkin-colored vibrating jig with a  Berkley PowerBait The Deal in the Skeet’s green money-color serving as the trailer.

“The first day, I focused on the isolated clumps of reeds that were a little deeper,” said Reese. “I targeted water that was four feet deep because all of the shallower stuff was getting so much pressure. I stayed out a little further from the bank on the isolated pencil reeds and caught a few good ones the second day by pitching The General on a 5/O hook with a ¼-ounce weight on 25-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% fluorocarbon.”

On the second day, Reese said he opted to stay solely off the bank and was able to catch a 21-pound bag that included the day’s biggest bass, an 8-pound, 8-ounce giant.
The final two days offered vastly different weather conditions, with wind speeds picking up throughout the lake. Reese said this caused him to make a change to the vibrating jig and helped him seal the win.

“It got too windy and made it hard to flip and pitch The General,” Reese said. “I also think it moved some of those fish out a little deeper. On the final day, it seemed like every big female was set up out in the open.”

Reese said the area had cleaner water and he felt it offered him the best chance to get multiple bites.

“I maximized what little I had and fished it all four days,” he continued. “I was trying to be in an area and get as many bites as I could. I never thought I was on the winning fish this week. I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason.”

The top 10 pros on Lake Okeechobee finished:

1st:       Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 20 bass, 82-14, $100,000
2nd:      Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 20 bass, 75-5, $30,000
3rd:       Jim Neece, Jr., Bristol, Tenn., 20 bass, 74-2, $25,000
4th:       Dicky Newberry, Houston, Texas, 20 bass, 72-12, $20,000
5th:       Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., 20 bass, 71-0, $19,000
6th:       Miles Burghoff, Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., 20 bass, 70-11, $18,200
7th:       Pete Ponds, Madison, Miss., 20 bass, 66-7, $17,000
8th:       Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., 20 bass, 64-3, $16,000
9th:       Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 20 bass, 63-14, $15,000
10th:     Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 20 bass, 63-2, $14,000
For a full list of results visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.The four top performers from Sunday’s Pro Circuit event who will receive invitations to compete at the Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage One presented by Power-Pole at Sam Rayburn, March 21-26, in Jasper Texas, are Jim Neece, Jr. of Bristol, TennesseeDicky Newberry of Houston, TexasBill McDonald of Greenwood, Ind iana, and Miles Burghoff of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee.

Overall, there were 50 bass weighing 173 pounds, 5 ounces caught by the final 10 pros on Sunday. All 10 weighed in a five-bass limit.

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee’s two-hour action-packed television show will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 11 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall.

The Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee was hosted by the Hendry County Tourism Development Council and Roland & Mary Ann Martin’s Marina & Resort. The next event for Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit anglers will be the Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Covercraft Stop 2 – Smith Lake , Mar. 11-14, in Cullman, Alabama. The tournament will be hosted by the Cullman Area Local Organizing Committee.

In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 163 anglers competed in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advanced to fish on Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continued competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, where they will compete for up to $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitter,  Instagram and YouTube.


New Notches Victory In Bassmaster Elite Series Debut At St. Johns River

Bryan New, of Belmont, N.C., has won the 2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day total of 79 pounds, 7 ounces.
Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

February 14, 2021

PALATKA, Fla. — Bryan New launched his rookie season in blockbuster form by topping a stout field of well-established finalists and winning the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day total of 79 pounds, 7 ounces.

Starting Championship Sunday in sixth place, New trailed Day 3 leader and rising star Patrick Walters by 5-7. Saving his best for last, New posted the event’s second-heaviest bag, 26-4, and edged Elite veteran Greg Hackney by a margin of 9-9. For his efforts, New earned $101,000.

New caught most of his fish out of lily pads, but he found a few keepers over main-river shellbars about halfway between Palatka and Dunn’s Creek, which connects to Crescent Lake. Targeting bars in about 5 to 7 feet, he fished a Berkley Warpig lipless crankbait in the bleeding shiner color with a slow yo-yoing technique.

“That wasn’t a winning-fish deal, but without those fish, I don’t win this tournament,” New said.

The pads that produced the bulk of his weight were located at the lower end of Lake George. Fishing 5-inch black and blue Zoom Zlinky worms Texas-rigged on a 5/0 Berkley Fusion hook with a 1/8- and 1/4-ounce weights, New said he focused on isolated pads.

“I fished dense pads too, but I definitely liked the sparse pads for multiple reasons,” he said. “First, on an isolated target, it’s easier to pick out where the fish are sitting and they have more light penetration. That’s important for the spawning fish I was targeting.”

The key, New said, was a meticulous presentation that maximized every aspect of his target area.

“You don’t just have one target on each cast; sometimes you’ll have 10 targets on each cast,” he said. “You can feel the sweet spots. You can feel a little rough patch on the bottom where there’s a bed or you can feel the hard spot of the root. Sometimes, you can even feel a little depression.

“I’ve always heard that slow and steady wins the race,” New said. “That’s not always my style, but I can do it.”

New caught good numbers the first three days. Day 1, which was shortened by a three-hour fog delay, yielded 12 pounds and put him in 22nd place. The second day, he added 20-3 and rose to ninth before securing his Championship Sunday berth with a Day 3 limit of 21 pounds, which pushed him up to sixth.

Following the Day 3 weigh-in, New said he’d approach Championship Sunday focused on getting the big bites. On Sunday, he caught four in the 5-pound class and another over 4.

New qualified for the Elites by winning the Falcon Rods Bassmaster Opens Angler of the Year title, an accomplishment that began with a win at his first 2020 tournament — the Basspro.com Bassmaster Eastern Open on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain.

Before the St. Johns event began, New stated that his 2021 goals included winning Bassmaster Angler of the Year — not only Rookie of the Year — and winning the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, which is set for June 11-13 on Lake Ray Roberts.

New summarized his Elite debut: “I have a pretty good start!”

Hackney committed his tournament to fishing cypress trees on Lake George’s east side. He caught 12-7 on Day 1 and placed 19th and then rose to third on Day 2 by adding 22-10. He’d improve to second on Day 3 and held that final position with weights of 23-6 and 11-7.

Returning to the Elites after a two-year break, the Gonzales, La., pro caught all of his fish on a junebug-colored Strike King Rage Bug rigged on a 5/0 Hack Attack Flipping hook with a 1/4-ounce Tour Grade Tungsten weight.

“There’s not any cover left in the lake (2017’s Hurricane Irma killed the eelgrass) and this was one of the few areas that had enough depth and enough protection from the elements for those lake fish to spawn on.

“There’s only a handful of docks and cypress trees in the lake and I spent one whole day in practice fishing all the way around (Lake George). I knew this was the area of the lake where the biggest population of fish lived and I knew where they used to spawn. I just looked for anything that was close by.”

Seth Feider of New Market, Minn., finished third with 69-6. He turned in daily weights of 8-3, 18-8, 25-8 and 17-3.

Derek Hudnall of Denham Springs, La., and Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, split the event’s Phoenix Boats Big Bass award of $1,000 for their 9-pound, 8-ounce fish. Hudnall won $1,000 for the big bass of Day 1, while Palaniuk claimed the Day 2 award. Wes Logan of Springville, Ala., won the Day 3 award with his 8-8 and New won the Day 4 award with his 5-14.

2020 Bassmaster Classic champion Hank Cherry of Lincolnton, N.C., took home $3,000 for being the highest-placing entrant in the Toyota Bonus Bucks program, and Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla., earned $2,000 for being the second-highest placing entrant.

2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River 2/11-2/14
St. Johns River, Palatka, FL
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 4

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Bryan New Belmont, NC 20 79-07 100 $101,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-00 Day 2: 5 20-03 Day 3: 5 21-00 Day 4: 5 26-04
2. Greg Hackney Gonzales, LA 20 69-14 99 $35,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-07 Day 2: 5 22-10 Day 3: 5 23-06 Day 4: 5 11-07
3. Seth Feider New Market, MN 20 69-06 98 $30,000.00
Day 1: 5 08-03 Day 2: 5 18-08 Day 3: 5 25-08 Day 4: 5 17-03
4. Patrick Walters Summerville, SC 20 68-13 97 $25,000.00
Day 1: 5 13-03 Day 2: 5 19-00 Day 3: 5 26-07 Day 4: 5 10-03
5. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 20 67-05 96 $20,000.00
Day 1: 5 16-02 Day 2: 5 17-05 Day 3: 5 17-08 Day 4: 5 16-06
6. Hank Cherry Jr Lincolnton, NC 18 66-05 95 $19,000.00
Day 1: 3 12-14 Day 2: 5 17-01 Day 3: 5 23-07 Day 4: 5 12-15
7. Cliff Prince Palatka, FL 20 66-02 94 $18,000.00
Day 1: 5 17-12 Day 2: 5 14-12 Day 3: 5 21-01 Day 4: 5 12-09
8. Bryan Schmitt Deale, MD 20 64-08 93 $17,000.00
Day 1: 5 15-08 Day 2: 5 15-08 Day 3: 5 21-11 Day 4: 5 11-13
9. Derek Hudnall Denham Springs, LA 20 63-03 92 $17,500.00
Day 1: 5 22-05 Day 2: 5 16-00 Day 3: 5 15-04 Day 4: 5 09-10
10. Gary Clouse Winchester, TN 14 54-01 91 $15,000.00
Day 1: 5 25-12 Day 2: 5 19-05 Day 3: 2 06-04 Day 4: 2 02-12


MLF Shifts Dates of Toyota Series Central Opener

Originally Scheduled for Feb. 16-18, Toyota Series Central Opener moves to Feb. 17-19

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (Feb. 14, 2021) – Major League Fishing, the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced today that due to inclement weather in the region, the organization will shift the dates for the Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. at Lake Guntersville presented by Googan Baits . The Central division presented by Neat Companies’ season kickoff was originally scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, Feb. 16-18, but has been postponed one day to allow for safer travel conditions. The tournament will now take place Wednesday through Friday, Feb. 17-19, in Guntersville, Alabama.

Anglers will take off daily at 6:30 a.m. CT from Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville. Weigh-ins will also be held at the park and will begin at 2:30 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers and essential staff only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the “MLF Live” weigh-in broadcasts and daily coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The 2021 Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The 2021 Toyota Series Championship presented by A.R.E. will be held Oct. 28-30 on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee, and is hosted by the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau.


With Run To Rodman, Walters Takes Lead At Bassmaster Elite On St. Johns River

Patrick Walters, of Summerville, S.C., is leading after Day 3 of the 2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a three-day total of 58 pounds, 10 ounces.

Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

February 13, 2021

PALATKA, Fla. — For three days, the question lingered: would Rodman Reservoir play a significant role in the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River. Today, Patrick Walters of Summerville, S.C., erased any doubt with a five-bass limit of 26 pounds, 7 ounces that gave him the lead with a three-day total of 58-10.

Walters enters Championship Sunday with a 3-ounce lead over Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La.

“Rodman didn’t play two years ago, and it didn’t play last year because (it was in a drawdown). So, I thought it has to be good this year,” Walters said. “I flipped a coin on it and it worked.

“The biggest thing is the time constraint. We need enough time to fish and to come back.”

Located south of Palatka, Rodman is technically upriver, as the St. Johns flows south to north. Covering about 9,500 acres, the reservoir offers an abundance of standing timber and stumps as well as various bank vegetation and floating mats. Anglers access Rodman through a canal and lock west of the river.

With the St. Johns fishery still suffering from massive eelgrass loss suffered during Hurricane Irma in 2017, anglers have been spending more time exploring tributaries and connected lakes. Today, stumps and pads produced all of Walters’ fish.

While Rodman’s timber was reminiscent of Walters’ dominant Lake Fork victory at the 2020 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefitting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Walters said this week he’s found the bass are in a different stage now.

“I’m using my electronics and I’m catching some fish jerking, but they’re setting up differently,” he said. “These fish are starting to spawn and I’m catching them in transition.

“In practice, they were in the standing timber, but they transitioned up shallow to about 5 feet.”

Walters was not alone in Rodman, but he’s put together the most successful performance. After placing 15th on Day 1 with 13-3, he improved to 10th with a Day 2 limit of 19-0. Today’s bag of 26-7 was the event’s largest catch.

Walters said he executed on his day’s game plan, but he had to chuckle when relating the tale of incidentally finding himself in a productive stretch.

“I was fishing a little stump field and I said ‘I’m going to fish to that little grass mat over there and then I’m going to leave,” Walters explained. “That mat was maybe 100 yards away and as I’m fishing to it, I keep looking up and thinking ‘How have I not made it to that mat?’

“Turns out it was floating and I probably caught eight fish while I was trying to reach it. I just kept working to it and it kept drifting away.”

Walters caught most of his bass on a mix of jerkbaits, which he rotated based on sky conditions and water clarity. He also caught keepers on a Zoom Zlinky and a Fluke Stick. For the plastics, he used Texas-rigging and Neko-rigging techniques.

“I thought I was going to catch them pretty quick this morning with that cloud cover because, in practice, they bit when it was cloudy and rainy; but I started super slow,” Walters said. “Once that sun started peeking out around 10:30, I started catching them.

“The biggest fish I caught was the last spot I hit in Rodman — five minutes before the lock closed. I wanted to hit this stump yesterday, but I would have been late for the lock. So I said, ‘Just save it for (Day 3).’ On my first cast, I caught my 7-pounder on a jerkbait.”

Hackney caught 12-7 on Day 1 to place 19th, then climbed to third on Day 2 with 22-10. On Saturday, he turned in his best effort — a limit of 23-6 — and tallied 58-7.

Hackney committed the majority of his day to a 1/2-mile stretch of cypress shoreline on the east side of Lake George. This habitat, he said, filled the void left by the eelgrass decline.

“Those fish don’t have the stuff they used to have, so that was the next best thing,” he said. “I knew if they lived in the area, that’s where they’d have to spawn.”

Amid the vast cypress habitat, Hackney targeted high spots where bass were most likely to bed. He caught all of his fish on a Strike King Rage Bug (junebug color), Texas rigged on a 5/0 Hack Attack flipping hook and a 1/4-ounce Tour Grade tungsten sinker.

“I was using 25-pound fluorocarbon because I wanted some stretch,” Hackney said. “That water was so shallow, sometimes, you can rip the bait out of their mouth with braid.”

Derek Hudnall of Denham Springs, La., is in third place with 53-9. He placed second on Day 1 with 22-5 and held that spot with a second-round limit of 16-0. Hudnall added 15-4 Saturday.

Returning to a spawning area near Astor (south of Lake George) where he’d fished the previous two days, Hudnall fared well by skipping a wacky-rigged Missile Baits 48 into gaps amid shoreline vegetation. On Friday and Saturday, he lost several key fish that were clearly in bed-guarding mode.

“When they’re spawning, they’re not eating; they’re protecting, so they don’t typically get it really deep,” Hudnall said. “I spent about two hours in my main area and caught a 6-pounder on my first cast and then a couple of little ones.

“It became obvious that this area was gone. I started running new water and filled out my limit in the river while I was running back.”

Hudnall and Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, are tied for the lead in the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors at 9-8 each.

The Top 10 remaining anglers will take off at 7 a.m. ET from Palatka City Docks. The weigh-in will be held at the Palatka Riverfront Park at 3 p.m. The winner will earn $100,000 and one of the coveted blue trophies awarded to every Elite Series winner.

FS1 will broadcast live from the tournament beginning at 8 a.m. Coverage of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms.

2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River 2/11-2/14
St. Johns River, Palatka, FL
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 3

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Patrick Walters Summerville, SC 15 58-10 100
Day 1: 5 13-03 Day 2: 5 19-00 Day 3: 5 26-07
2. Greg Hackney Gonzales, LA 15 58-07 99
Day 1: 5 12-07 Day 2: 5 22-10 Day 3: 5 23-06
3. Derek Hudnall Denham Springs, LA 15 53-09 98 $1,000.00
Day 1: 5 22-05 Day 2: 5 16-00 Day 3: 5 15-04
4. Cliff Prince Palatka, FL 15 53-09 97
Day 1: 5 17-12 Day 2: 5 14-12 Day 3: 5 21-01
5. Hank Cherry Jr Lincolnton, NC 13 53-06 96
Day 1: 3 12-14 Day 2: 5 17-01 Day 3: 5 23-07
6. Bryan New Belmont, NC 15 53-03 95
Day 1: 5 12-00 Day 2: 5 20-03 Day 3: 5 21-00
7. Bryan Schmitt Deale, MD 15 52-11 94
Day 1: 5 15-08 Day 2: 5 15-08 Day 3: 5 21-11
8. Seth Feider New Market, MN 15 52-03 93
Day 1: 5 08-03 Day 2: 5 18-08 Day 3: 5 25-08
9. Gary Clouse Winchester, TN 12 51-05 92
Day 1: 5 25-12 Day 2: 5 19-05 Day 3: 2 06-04
10. Mark Menendez Paducah, KY 15 50-15 91
Day 1: 5 16-02 Day 2: 5 17-05 Day 3: 5 17-08
11. Mike Huff Corbin, KY 15 50-14 90 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-08 Day 2: 5 19-14 Day 3: 5 18-08
12. Brandon Lester Fayetteville, TN 13 50-04 89 $10,000.00
Day 1: 3 07-05 Day 2: 5 21-12 Day 3: 5 21-03
13. Matt Herren Ashville, AL 15 50-02 88 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 16-09 Day 2: 5 17-03 Day 3: 5 16-06
14. Brandon Palaniuk Rathdrum, ID 14 49-15 87 $11,000.00
Day 1: 4 07-04 Day 2: 5 18-00 Day 3: 5 24-11
15. Wes Logan Springville, AL 15 49-06 86 $11,000.00
Day 1: 5 10-06 Day 2: 5 21-02 Day 3: 5 17-14
16. Caleb Kuphall Mukwonago, WI 15 48-11 85 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 13-04 Day 2: 5 16-09 Day 3: 5 18-14
17. Cory Johnston Cavan CANADA 15 48-07 84 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 17-15 Day 2: 5 14-00 Day 3: 5 16-08
18. Joshua Stracner Vandiver, AL 15 47-14 83 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 16-02 Day 2: 5 14-15 Day 3: 5 16-13
19. Keith Combs Huntington, TX 15 47-13 82 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 09-08 Day 2: 5 17-04 Day 3: 5 21-01
20. Clent Davis Montevallo, AL 15 47-08 81 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 06-04 Day 2: 5 21-05 Day 3: 5 19-15
21. Carl Jocumsen Queensland TN AUSTRALIA 15 43-10 80 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 18-02 Day 2: 5 11-10 Day 3: 5 13-14
22. Brian Snowden Reeds Spring, MO 12 43-06 79 $10,000.00
Day 1: 2 03-06 Day 2: 5 23-08 Day 3: 5 16-08
23. Drew Cook Cairo, GA 15 43-06 78 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 11-01 Day 2: 5 19-00 Day 3: 5 13-05
24. Jeff Gustafson Keewatin Ontario CANADA 15 42-12 77 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 09-14 Day 2: 5 19-10 Day 3: 5 13-04
25. Gerald Swindle Guntersville, AL 15 42-06 76 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-07 Day 2: 5 16-00 Day 3: 5 13-15
26. Justin Hamner Northport, AL 15 42-00 75 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 10-08 Day 2: 5 16-14 Day 3: 5 14-10
27. Drew Benton Blakely, GA 15 41-08 74 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 09-08 Day 2: 5 18-05 Day 3: 5 13-11
28. Buddy Gross Chickamauga, GA 15 41-05 73 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 16-05 Day 2: 5 17-00 Day 3: 5 08-00
29. KJ Queen Catawba, NC 15 41-05 72 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 11-10 Day 2: 5 13-11 Day 3: 5 16-00
30. Ed Loughran III Richmond, VA 13 41-01 71 $10,000.00
Day 1: 3 07-00 Day 2: 5 17-01 Day 3: 5 17-00
31. Randy Pierson Oakdale, CA 14 41-00 70 $10,000.00
Day 1: 4 11-10 Day 2: 5 11-04 Day 3: 5 18-02
32. Luke Palmer Coalgate, OK 15 40-08 69 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 07-08 Day 2: 5 16-15 Day 3: 5 16-01
33. Stetson Blaylock Benton, AR 14 40-01 68 $10,000.00
Day 1: 4 11-11 Day 2: 5 13-11 Day 3: 5 14-11
34. Chris Johnston Otonabee Ontario CANADA 15 39-13 67 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-06 Day 2: 5 11-09 Day 3: 5 15-14
35. Bill Weidler Helena, AL 15 39-08 66 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 14-13 Day 2: 5 15-03 Day 3: 5 09-08
36. Micah Frazier Newnan, GA 13 38-08 65 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 14-00 Day 2: 5 12-02 Day 3: 3 12-06
37. John Cox Debary, FL 13 38-07 64 $10,000.00
Day 1: 3 07-01 Day 2: 5 15-07 Day 3: 5 15-15
38. Darold Gleason Many, LA 15 37-08 63 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 11-09 Day 2: 5 10-13 Day 3: 5 15-02
39. Austin Felix Eden Prairie, MN 15 37-03 62 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 12-08 Day 2: 5 12-11 Day 3: 5 12-00
40. Bernie Schultz Gainesville, FL 13 36-13 61 $10,000.00
Day 1: 3 06-02 Day 2: 5 19-13 Day 3: 5 10-14
41. Brad Whatley Bivins, TX 15 36-12 60 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 06-12 Day 2: 5 16-04 Day 3: 5 13-12
42. Quentin Cappo Prairieville, LA 15 35-04 59 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 08-07 Day 2: 5 17-04 Day 3: 5 09-09
43. Matt Arey Shelby, NC 15 35-02 58 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 09-13 Day 2: 5 14-05 Day 3: 5 11-00
44. Rob Digh Denver, NC 15 34-01 57 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 08-14 Day 2: 5 15-08 Day 3: 5 09-11
45. Justin Atkins Florence, AL 13 34-00 56 $10,000.00
Day 1: 3 05-09 Day 2: 5 17-01 Day 3: 5 11-06
46. Hunter Shryock Ooltewah, TN 15 33-12 55 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 11-04 Day 2: 5 12-06 Day 3: 5 10-02
47. Kyle Welcher Opelika, AL 15 32-11 54 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 10-07 Day 2: 5 12-12 Day 3: 5 09-08
48. Brandon Cobb Greenwood, SC 14 32-04 53 $10,000.00
Day 1: 5 11-06 Day 2: 5 12-04 Day 3: 4 08-10
49. Kenta Kimura Osaka JAPAN 10 32-01 52 $10,000.00
Day 1: 3 05-02 Day 2: 5 20-04 Day 3: 2 06-11
50. Lee Livesay Longview, TX 10 22-09 51 $5,000.00
Day 1: 5 08-04 Day 2: 5 14-05 Day 3: 0 00-00


Tennessee’s Burghoff Takes Lead at Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit on Lake Okeechobee

CLEWISTON, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2021) – Pro Miles Burghoff of Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, caught five bass weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces Friday to take control of the leaderboard after Day Two of the Major League Fishing Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee  in Clewiston, Florida. Burghoff's two-day total of 10 bass weighing 42 pounds, 15 ounces moved him up into the top spot heading into Day Three after starting the day in second place. The four-day competition, hosted by the Hendry County Tourism Development Council and Roland & Mary Ann Martin's Marina & Resort, features a field of 162 bass fishing professionals from around the world competing for a top cash award of up to $135,000.

MLF Bass Pro Tour pro, Skeet Reese of Auburn, California, jumped from 16th place into 2nd, with a five-bass-limit weighing 21 pounds, 9 ounces, for a two-day total of 39 pounds, 5 ounces – just 3-pounds, 10-ounces behind Burghoff.

“It all changed today, and the pressure in my area was incredibly strong,” said Burghoff. “There were 25 boats in that spot and I was within a pitch or two from at least one other boat for the entire day.”

Burghoff said with the amount of pressure being a factor, he tried to find something fresh and target things other anglers may have overlooked.

“I had to switch it up to get bites,” he said. “I was still flipping and pitching, but looked for places others weren’t hitting and tried to find little stretches with less traffic.”

He said his plan for tomorrow is to join the crowd again because he believes there are enough fish in that area to get another solid limit.

“There are still some big females in there so I am going out with the same plan in the morning,” said Burghoff. “I’m sticking with that area until I’m told otherwise by the fish.”

The top 20 pros after Day Two on Lake Okeechobee are:

1st:       Miles Burghoff, Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., five bass, 42-15
2nd:      Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., five bass, 39-5
3rd:       Jim Neece, Jr., Bristol, Tenn., five bass, 38-9
4th:       Dicky Newberry, Houston, Texas, five bass, 38-0
5th:       Bill McDonald, Greenwood, Ind., five bass, 37-8
6th:       Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 37-6
7th:       Pete Ponds, Madison, Miss., five bass, 36-12
8th:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 36-7
9th:       Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 35-8
10th:     Kurt Mitchell, Milford, Del., five bass, 35-3
11th:     Mike Surman, Boca Raton, Fla., five bass, 34-11
12th:     Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 34-9
13th:     Jamie Horton, Centerville, Ala., five bass, 33-13
14th:     Jason Vance, Battle Ground, Ind. five bass, 32-12
15th:     Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, five bass, 32-6
16th:     Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 32-1
17th:     Rusty Salewske, Alpine, Calif., five bass, 31-9
18th:     Matt Reed, Madisonville, Texas, five bass, 31-6
19th:     Jim Tutt, Longview, Texas, five bass, 31-4
20th:     Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 31-4
For a full list of results and to see the top 50 anglers that will continue to Day Three, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.Reese won the day’s $500 Berkley Big Bass award, bringing a largemouth weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces to the scale.

Overall, there were 741 bass weighing 1,773 pounds, 2 ounces caught by 162 pros on Thursday, which included 131 five-bass limits.

In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 162 anglers competed in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. Now, the top 50 pros based on their two-day cumulative weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition on Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.

Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, where they will compete for up to $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.

Anglers will take off at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday from Roland and Mary Ann Martin’s Marina and Resort, located at 920 E. Del Monte Ave. in Clewiston. Weigh-ins will also be held at the marina daily at 3 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to follow the action online through the MLF NOW! live stream and coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

The Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, 13 Fishing Stop 1 – Lake Okeechobee will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 11 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall. Weigh-ins will be streamed daily and fans can catch live on-the-water action all day Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 13-14 on MLF NOW! beginning at 8 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook,  Twitter Instagram and YouTube.


U.S. Army Signs as Title Sponsor of MLF High School Fishing

First 25 Teams to Enter Each Tournament Receives Favorite Fishing Package Valued at Over $230, Winners Earn Fishing Trip with Top Pros
TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 11, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today that the U.S. Army, the largest military branch in the United States with more than 700,000 soldiers – has signed on as the title sponsor for the 2021 season of MLF High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing.

With multiple scholarship and advancement opportunities and a partnership with The Bass Federation (TBF) – including the opportunity to compete for more than $3 million in scholarships and prizes at the High School Fishing National Championship and World Finals – MLF High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing is an excellent introduction to tournament bass fishing for teenage anglers.

“This partnership will allow the U.S. Army to connect with today’s outdoor enthusiasts across the United States,” said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew M. Benedict, Army Outdoor Team Leader. “We will share our experiences in the Army and demonstrate that you can serve your country while still pursuing your passions in the woods or on the water.

“We will also highlight how the U.S. Army assists soldiers in continuing the pursuit of their passions through programs such as Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) and others, where soldiers can rent equipment or book hunting expeditions around the world.”

The first 25 high school teams that enter each U.S. Army High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing tournament will receive a free Favorite Fishing package, including one Favorite Fishing casting rod and reel, one Favorite Fishing spinning rod and reel, six packs of Googan Baits and two Favorite Fishing hats, a total package value of $230. Most tournaments will also be hosted by a Bass Pro Tour angler or Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler, giving high school students the chance to meet the sport’s top pros. As an added bonus, the winning team at each tournament will receive a guided fishing trip with their host.

“We are thrilled to welcome the U.S. Army and their Army Outdoors Team to our fishing family,” said Jim Wilburn, MLF President and CEO. “The U.S. Army’s diverse range of individual soldiers with unique backgrounds and heart-felt passions creates a seamless connection with the youth of today. We are excited to explore this partnership throughout the 2021 season and to continue to invest in our students across the nation.”

U.S. Army High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing tournaments are two-person (team) events for students in grades 7-12 and are open to any SAF-affiliated high school team in the United States. The top 10-percent of each High School Open, TBF State Championship and TBF Challenge tournament held prior to June 14, 2021, will advance to the 2021 U.S. Army High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing National Championship, held in conjunction with the High School Fishing World Finals June 30-July 3 on Lake Hartwell in Anderson, South Carolina. Launched by TBF in 2010, the World Final is the world’s largest open high school bass tournament, where student anglers compete for more than $3 million in scholarships and prizes.

For more information about MLF, their tournaments and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. To learn more about the U.S. Army, visit GoArmy.com or follow Army Outdoor social media outlets at FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the U.S. Army High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing on the MLF BIG5 social media outlets at FacebookTwitterInstagram and  YouTube.


Major League Fishing Postpones Two Phoenix Bass Fishing League Events Scheduled for Saturday

Cowboy Division event at Toledo Bend Reservoir and Arkie Division event at Lake Ouachita to Be Rescheduled Due to Inclement Weather

TULSA, Okla. (Feb. 11, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today that two Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine events scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021, have been canceled due to inclement weather. The Cowboy Division event at Toledo Bend Reservoir in Zwolle, Louisiana, and the Arkie Division event at Lake Ouachita in Mount Ida, Arkansas, will both be rescheduled at a later date.

The Phoenix Bass Fishing League Bulldog Division event at Lake Lanier, South Carolina Division event at Lake Murray and Choo Choo Division event at Lake Guntersville will proceed as scheduled.

Angler registrations for the postponed event will automatically be carried over to the rescheduled events. For questions, call the MLF BIG5 customer service department at (270)-252-1000.

The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

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


B.A.S.S. Moves College Season-Opener To Lake Hartwell

February 11, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The Carhartt Bassmaster College Series at Lake Norman presented by Bass Pro Shops, originally scheduled for March 5-6 in Cornelius, N.C., will instead move 145 miles down I-85 to South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell, B.A.S.S. officials announced today.

“While disappointing to move the tournament, we understand the current climate of the pandemic in Mecklenburg County and the timing of this event,” said Travis Dancy, Director of Sales at Visit Lake Norman. “We look forward to welcoming some of the best collegiate anglers in 2022 on Lake Norman and continuing our long-standing relationship in hosting B.A.S.S. events.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently extended a variety of measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19, including restricting outdoor gatherings to no more than 25 participants. While that order is set to expire February 28, officials did not want to risk a last-minute cancellation should the restrictions be extended once more.

“It is disappointing any time you have to move a tournament, but it is especially important when college anglers are taking time away from their studies to compete that we respect that time,” said College Series Senior Manager Hank Weldon. “B.A.S.S. has emphasized over the past year that we will heed each state’s mandates on crowd sizes and public spaces to ensure both competition and fan activities can resume safely.

“We are thankful to our friends at Visit Anderson to be able to move the event to the always popular Lake Hartwell and maintain the original competition dates.”

Hartwell has hosted three previous Bassmaster Classics and six major B.A.S.S. events as well as a number of B.A.S.S. Nation, college and high school tournaments. Plus, the lake has consistently been ranked as one of the country’s Top 100 Best Bass Lakes in Bassmaster Magazine’s annual rankings, making the coveted list four times since 2015.

At this time no changes are planned for the Basspro.com Bassmaster Southern Open at Lake Norman currently scheduled to take place Sept. 23-25.

B.A.S.S. is pursuing options with the local host to offer a 2022 tournament on Lake Norman.


Yelas and Zaldain preview Elite Series on St. Johns

Jay Yelas and Chris Zaldain talk treasured memories, new puppies, lures, and make their weight predictions prior to the start of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River. 

Q: What is your favorite memory from the many times the Bassmaster Elite Series has visited Palatka’s St. Johns River?

Yelas: Seeing Rick Clunn win two Elites here in 2016 and 2019 over the age of 70.

Zaldain: My rookie year, getting an invite to dinner at Terry Scroggins’ house down the road, and looking around to realize I was sharing a meal on the eve of my first Elite Series tournament with Kevin VanDam and about a dozen more guys who were my bass fishing heroes. 

Q: What will be the biggest challenge this week?

Yelas: Catching enough big ones, because 3-pounders don’t lead to wins on the St. Johns. 

Zaldain: Keeping an open mind to ignore a lot of what happened on colder practice days. Temps are going to get way warmer during the tournament, and throw a lot of what we learned in practice right out the window. 

Q: As a brand-new season begins, what was the highlight of your off-season?

Yelas: Having family together for Christmas at our home in Lincoln City, Oregon. 

Zaldain: Getting a new Belgian Malinois puppy.

Q: Name four lures fans can expect to see used a lot this week?

Yelas: Flipping a punch rig, Texas rigged worm, lipless crankbait, and a Carolina rig

Zaldain: Soft plastic stick worm, flipping a Texas rig, a swim jig, and a topwater prop bait.

Q: How much weight will you need to average each day to get a Top 10?

Yelas: 15 pounds

Zaldain: 15+ pounds


Swindle’s 3 Overlooked Tools for Florida Success

When most fishermen think of Florida bass fishing, they imagine endless aquatic vegetation, heavy braided line, big weights, and giant warm-water dependent largemouth. Two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle admits he envisions similar scenes when dreaming of Florida, but 26 years as a professional angler has educated G-Man on the nuances of fishing in the sunshine state.

Through the School of Hard Knocks Swindle has learned there are lots of overlooked tools in an angler’s toolbox that can help lead to success when fishing a body of water like the St. Johns River; the playing field this week for the start of the 2021 Elite Series season.

The Team Toyota pro offered three items that he leans on and always makes his starting line-up when he sees a Florida tournament on the schedule.

  1. A Jack Plate

Bass fishing in Florida is typically synonymous with shallow water, which is why the first item on Swindle’s list is a jack plate for his outboard motor. Swindle uses a TH Marine Atlas Hydraulic Jack Plate, and it allows him to raise or lower his motor depending on where he runs his Phoenix boat.

“A jack plate might not sound as sexy as high end electronics or a new fancy trolling motor, but they’ll save you when running shallow water,” Swindle said. “I spend lots of time idling the shallows in Florida and my hydraulic jack plate helps keep sand and mud out of my water pump. When running (fast) on pad through shallow water, a jack plate can mean the difference between a functioning and a destroyed lower unit.”

  1. Quality pair of sunglasses

A quality pair of polarized sunglasses is another tool Swindle depends on when fishing anywhere in the country around the spawn, especially in Florida. Not only do sunglasses help him see fish and spawning beds, but they also allow G-man to clearly see holes, clumps or irregularities in underwater grass patches.

“I swear by Costas and wear the Reefton with a Sunrise lens, but there are lots of good options available,” Swindle offered. “A quality pair of shades is genuinely worth the investment if you plan to come down to Florida to fish. Being able to see six extra inches might mean the difference between seeing a 10-pound behemoth on bed or missing her altogether. Don’t skimp and get you some!”

  1. Prop style topwater

 Swindle’s last pick is a lure he feels doesn’t get the attention it deserves. A prop style topwater, similar to the iconic Devil’s Horse made famous years ago on the St. Johns and surrounding fisheries, is his third item.

Nowadays Swindle prefers the Rapala X-Rap 11 and believes the subtle action of this style of topwater is key when targeting Florida bass in super skinny water.

“My buddy Big Show (Terry Scroggins) showed me this lure over ten years ago and called it the ‘River Donkey’. When I asked why that name he said ‘cause it’ll kick your you-know-what on this river,” Swindle laughed. “You hardly ever hear about a bait like this anywhere in the country except when we come down to Florida. They’ll bite it other places, but not like they’ll eat it here. You can’t overlook it.”

Swindle will have these three tools and many more working to the best of their abilities today for the first day of Elite Series competition in hopes of bringing a big bag of fish back to the Palatka City Boat Dock.

 


Lake Palestine Readies for Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage

Bass Pro Tour Championship to Showcase Top 40 Anglers Competing on Lake Palestine for $300,000 Top Prize

FLINT, Texas (Feb. 10, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage is set to visit Lake Palestine and the Flint, Texas area next week, Feb. 21-25, to crown the newest Bass Pro Tour champion. The five-day tournament, shot for television broadcast on CBS, the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Channel, will showcase the top 40 Bass Pro Tour anglers from the 2020 season competing for the prestigious REDCREST Championship and the top prize of $300,000.

The Old Wisconsin Sausage Company, a premier provider of premium hand-crafted naturally smoked meat snacks, have signed on as the presenting sponsor of REDCREST 2021. Additional details of the sponsorship agreement will be forthcoming.

Originally scheduled to be held at Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, MLF officials agreed to shift REDCREST 2021 to Texas’ Lake Palestine in mid-December after the cancellation of the Outdoor Sports Expo that had been scheduled to be held in conjunction with the event in Tulsa. The 18-mile long Texas reservoir is known for its tremendous bass-fishing and the numerous 10-plus-pound largemouth that live throughout the lake and will provide the perfect venue for the best bass fishermen in the world to crown their champion.

“This event is going to be a lot of fun. Big championships where the top pros in the world can bring their different strong suits to the table and play them are special events,” said Bass Pro Tour superstar Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan , who will be competing in his first career REDCREST championship. “Everyone will be able to fish their strengths here. The crankers can crank, the flippers can flip, the swimbaiters can reel their offerings in and around anything they want. The lake has got everything a guy could want to fish, too, with the exception of offshore hydrilla and milfoil. But there’s plenty of shoreline vegetation that looks good for vibrating jigs and pitching.

“Not many people nationally have heard of Lake Palestine, but they’re going to know about it soon,” VanDam continued. “There are no big ramp facilities where big tournaments can put in, so it usually stays under the radar from the big circuits. Tournament history there is scarce, and that fact alone gets me pumped. Palestine has a lot of quality bass in it. They live there — we’re not fishing for unicorns on this one. If we get good weather, this thing could be epic.”

Tennessee pro Ott DeFoe is another competitor that is extremely excited about his return to the Lone Star State.

“I’ve never fished on Lake Palestine, but from what I’ve researched it looks like an excellent fishery,” DeFoe told MLF reporter Dave Landahl. “I’ve always loved fishing in Texas. My first FLW Tour (now Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit) event was on Lake Travis, I finished in the Top 10. I had a Top 10 at the Classic on Lake Conroe, I won the Bass Pro Tour event on Lake Fork and Lake Athens, and have cashed a lot of checks in that state over the years. I do well there, I’m always consistent. There’s a lot to get excited about when you fish for bass in Texas.”

All 40 Anglers will compete on Days 1 (Sunday) and 2 (Monday) of the event. After two days of competition, the field is cut to just the top 20 based on two-day total cumulative weight. The remaining 20 anglers are split into two groups – 10 compete on Day 3 (Tuesday) and 10 compete on Day 4 (Wednesday). The top five anglers from each group based on total single-day weight will advance to the sixth and final day of competition, where weights are zeroed and the angler that catches the highest total weight on the final day will be crowned the REDCREST 2021 champion.

Attendance is limited to competing anglers, essential staff and media covering the event only. Fans are encouraged to follow the event online through the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com

The 2020 Bass Pro Tour featured a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing in a COVID-shortened five regular-season tournaments around the country. The top 40 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the five events qualified to compete in Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all five days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com. and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of the Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, July 3 on the Discovery Channel. A one-hour special episode of MLF Inside the REDCREST will premiere at 2 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 18 on CBS. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

For complete details and updated information on REDCREST 2021, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube .


AFTCO Expands Sponsorship Of Bassmaster Events

February 10, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After serving as title sponsor for the Elite Series season-opener and as a conservation partner for two years, AFTCO is expanding its partnership with B.A.S.S. The brand, renowned for its performance fishing clothing and precision tackle, will now serve as a Supporting Sponsor for the Bassmaster Tournament Trail and outfit all staff and marshals for these events.

“We are proud to partner with AFTCO on what is sure to be an exciting 2021 season across every level of competition,” said Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO. “Both brands have a long history focused on both conservation and growing the sport of bass fishing, and our enthusiastic fans are the perfect audience for AFTCO to promote their gear and clothing. Their generous support is also allowing us to enrich our already popular Elite Series Marshal program and lake cleanup efforts.”

As a Supporting Sponsor for the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship and the grass-roots TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation regional and championship tournaments, AFTCO will enjoy exposure in Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times magazines and across various social media platforms as well as on the award-winning show Bassmaster LIVE.

“The entire AFTCO Team is extremely excited to expand our partnership with B.A.S.S. for the 2021 season,” said Matt Florentino, Marketing Director. “As a Supporting Sponsor for B.A.S.S. we have the unique opportunity to outfit all marshals and B.A.S.S. staff for the season. You have seen the AFTCO Pro Team reap the benefits of our gear in all weather conditions, and now the marshals and B.A.S.S. staff will get to do the same both on the water and behind the scenes.”

Marshals join different Elite anglers to spend two to three days on the water. Marshals are not allowed to fish, but they are encouraged to take photos, send blog posts to Bassmaster.com and serve as an extra set of eyes for B.A.S.S. tournament officials, making sure all rules are observed. Additionally, marshals operate the digital BassTrakk scoring system that enables fans to follow the action in real-time. New for the 2021 season, AFTCO will be rewarding marshals with a shirt, hat, sun mask, gift card and other items with a total value of $100, plus a 20% off coupon for future purchases.

When the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite Series at St. Johns River launches on Feb. 11, the field will feature 19 members of the AFTCO Pro Team. Highlighting the AFTCO-aligned anglers are Hank Cherry, who won the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk, and Frank Talley, who claimed his first Elite Series victory last year on Lake Guntersville.


Sumrall: Florida in February all about Forecast

There is something buzzing in the air in Palatka, Florida besides the fog. You can feel the excitement and nerves of Bassmaster Elite Series competitors as they prepare to kick off the 2021 season tomorrow with the start of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite on the St. Johns River. 

Fourth year Elite Series pro Caleb Sumrall is ready to get the season underway and is excited to tackle the vast and beautiful St. Johns River. This is Sumrall’s third trip to Palatka, but as much as this river might look like his native Louisiana waters, the Yamaha pro is quick to tell you this place doesn’t exactly fish like home. 

One thing Sumrall has learned about Florida in February is just how much weather factors into a four-day Elite Series tournament. “Weather” has definitely been a buzzword today, just as it has been for every St. Johns River event. A warming trend has settled in to northeast Florida this week and has anglers hopeful for what is to come. 

“Based on the 5-day forecast, I truly believe some giant Florida bass will flood the shallows to spawn during our derby,” Sumrall suspected. “But it’s so hard to predict where or when that will happen on a fishery like this. You hope you’re the guy who lands on them in the tournament, but you never really know this time of year in Florida.” 

Sumrall’s experience on the St. Johns has shown that the giant bass this fishery is famous for do not just pull up all over the river to perform their spawning ritual. There might be miles of dead water in between productive spots. And with 101 of the best bass anglers in the world all looking for similar types of areas, this massive body of water could fish very small.

The potential for rainy or stormy conditions doesn’t concern Sumrall too much, as he is not planning to focus on sight fishing solely during this event. He’ll be primarily fishing for bass he believes to be spawning, but not necessarily looking at them. Overcast conditions could very well play into his favor if it affects anglers hoping to use their eyes to find and catch fish. 

Sumrall trusts his Carhartt rain suit to keep him comfortable no matter the conditions and doesn’t believe the wet weather will affect fish too negatively. One weather factor that does worry Sumrall is the chance of fog. As of 10:30am on Wednesday the fog still hadn’t lifted and anglers are expecting similar conditions tomorrow morning. 

“The dense fog we’ve had the past two mornings definitely has me nervous,” Sumrall said. “You hate to have a fog delay and lose time in any tournament, but I really need every minute possible with the way the St. Johns is fishing this week.” 

There is no doubt the weather will be a major player for Elite Series anglers this week, but it’s also something they cannot control. Instead of spending his time worrying, Sumrall is focusing on variables he can control and intends to start his 2021 Elite Series campaign off on the right foot.   

 

 


Eastanollee’s Morrow Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on Lake Keowee

Gainesville’s South Wins Strike King Co-Angler Division

SENECA, S.C. (Feb. 8, 2021) – Boater Troy Morrow of Eastanollee, Georgia, won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine at Lake Keowee presented by Googan Baits in Seneca, South Carolina. Morrow earned $7,011 for his victory at the event, which was hosted by Visit Oconee.

TOP 10 RESULTS

RANK BOATER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Troy Morrow of Eastanollee, Ga. 5 15-2 $7,011
2nd Bo Price of Seneca, S.C. 5 13-14 $3,006
3rd Todd Goade of White Pine, Tenn. 5 13-7 $2,001
4th Randy Dover of Buford, Ga. 5 13-6 $1,403
5th Jared Pelfrey of Westminster, S.C. 5 12-12 $1,202
6th Chris Nelson of Social Circle, Ga. 5 12-3 $1,102
7th Andy Burgess of Greenville, S.C. 5 11-15 $1,502
8th Hunter Eubanks of Inman, S.C. 5 11-14 $852
8th Jody Holland of Clermont, Ga. 5 11-14 $852
10th Jayme Rampey of Liberty, S.C. 5 11-13 $701
RANK
STRIKE KING CO-ANGLER NAME/HOMETOWN
BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st James South of Gainesville, Ga. 5 11-9 $3,006
2nd Johnny Hancox of West Union, S.C. 4 9-6 $2,000
3rd Chris Coleman of Ware Shoals, S.C. 5 9-4 $1,008
4th Kyle Rogers of Cleveland, Ga. 5 7-13 $701
5th Corey Veal of Royston, Ga. 5 7-11 $576
5th Stewart Uldrick of Anderson, S.C. 5 7-11 $576
7th Shane Swann of Mars Hill, N.C. 5 7-5 $476
7th Kyle Davis of Liberty, S.C. 5 7-5 $476
9th Lee Montgomery of Duncan, S.C. 4 6-7 $401
10th Trey Paul of Anderson, S.C. 4 6-6 $319
10th Jimmy Plakas of Greenville, S.C. 3 6-6 $319
10th Caleb Roberson of Travelers Rest, S.C. 5 6-6 $319

Full results from the event can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.CONTINGENCY AWARDS

AWARD NAME CONTINGENCY PAYOUT
Boater Berkley Big Bass Shane Peck of Gainesville, Ga. 4-pound, 9-ounce bass $995
Strike King Co-Angler Berkley Big Bass Johnny Hancox of West Union, S.C. 4-pound, 12-ounce bass $497
Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus Andy Burgess of Greenville, S.C. Eligible Phoenix Boat* $500
* 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 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
WINNING BAITS
ANGLER BAITS COLOR
Boater - 3/8-ounce Outkast Tackle Swimbait Jig Head with a Zoom Boot Tail Fluke Swimbait Not Disclosed
Strike King Co-Angler
- ½-ounce Unnamed Swimbait Jig Head with a Keitech Swing Impact FAT Swimbait
- Shaky-Head Rig
Not Disclosed
2021 QUALIFICATION OPPORTUNITIES
EVENT DATE LOCATION HOST
Savannah River Division – Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship Oct. 14-16 Lake Murray, Columbia, S.C. Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board
Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American June 3-5 Douglas Lake, Dandridge, Tenn.
Jefferson County Department of Tourism

The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.The top six finishers in each regional will then qualify for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.


Edwin Evers Wins 2021 MLF Lucas Oil Challenge Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches in Neenah, Wisc.

Oklahoma Superstar Nearly Laps the Field with 39+ pounds to Win Third Challenge Cup Title of Career

NEENAH, Wis. (Feb. 6, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) pro Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma, caught 18 bass totaling 39 pounds, 5 ounces, to win the Championship Round of the 2021 MLF Lucas Oil Challenge Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches in Neenah, Wisconsin, which premiered Saturday on the Outdoor Channel. It was the third MLF Challenge Cup title of Evers’ career, and pushed his career earnings to nearly $3.7 million.

“I am so incredibly excited right now,” Evers said in his post-game press conference. “I had a very tough season last year. It was really up and down for me and it was pretty frustrating. So, to start off the 2021 Cup season with a win is super special. And to win it on Lake Winnebago – this is such an awesome fishery. When we were riding to the lake and turned left out of the parking lot, my heart started beating out of my chest because I knew where we were going. I love this lake; it is super special to me.”

Period 1 of the Championship Round was dominated by Evers on the strength of a wacky-rigged 4-inch Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General worm. All of his bites in the period came off of three docks near the main lake.

“It was a very specific pattern – it had to be docks that were on a point,” Evers said. “It had to have clean water, with a rocky bottom – not sand – and fairly clean with not a lot of grass around. And we talk about the 48 miles of shoreline and more than 23,000 acres of water… I fished every possible scenario where there would be a bass and I caught all of my fish off of just five docks. There might be one more dock out there, but I’m pretty sure those were the only five docks that worked with my pattern that day.”

Without either angler knowing, second-place finisher Mike McClelland also found those exact same three docks during Period 2 and they had reloaded. McClelland caught several key fish on a small spinnerbait and got to within 5 pounds of Evers, however the Oklahoma pro found two similar docks in the southern end of the competition zone and pulled away.

“I guess (Mike) McClelland also caught his fish off of those same docks, but unfortunately for him he was just behind me,” Evers said. “Everything I caught came on that Berkley General. I would have liked to catch them on a spinnerbait or with a vibrating jig, but it just wasn’t working for me. I learned early in the day I had to slow way down and just let that worm soak.”

Evers is now tied with two other anglers for the most Cup wins in MLF history with three – Kevin VanDam and Jacob Wheeler.

“I know I keep saying it, but just I’m super excited,” Evers went on to say. “You never know what tomorrow holds, so to win another one… I will never, ever, take one of these wins for granted. Period. These Cup events are so hard to win – they’re like a mini-championship. I am so fortunate and I’m looking forward to getting home to celebrate this win with my family.”

The final eight anglers at the 2021 Lucas Oil Challenge Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches in Neenah, Wisconsin finished:

1st: Edwin Evers of Talala, Okla., 18 bass, 39-5
2nd: Mike McClelland of Blue Eye, Mo., nine bass, 18-3
3rd: Jordan Lee of Cullman, Ala., four bass, 9-8
4th: Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 7-10
5th: Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan, three bass, 6-8
6th: Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn., three bass, 5-6
7th: Greg Hackney of Gonzales, La., two bass, 4-1
8th: Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., one bass, 1-4

Complete results along with photos from the event can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Lee caught the Berkley Big Bass of the day – a chunky 3-pound, 11-ounce largemouth during Period One.

Overall, there were 44 bass weighing 91 pounds, 13 ounces caught by the final eight pros during the Championship Round of competition on Lake Winnebago.

The 2021 Lucas Oil Challenge Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches was hosted by the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau and premiered on the Outdoor Channel as six, two-hour original episodes each Saturday afternoon debuting on Jan. 2, 2021, and running through Feb. 6, 2021.

All six episodes of the event are available for viewing on the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) streaming app.

The event was shot over six days in mid-September in Neenah and featured 30 MLF pro anglers visiting Eastern Wisconsin to compete on four different fisheries across the region, including Lake Poygan and Winneconne, Lake Butte des Morts and Lake Winnebago. The fisheries were unknown to the anglers – they did not learn where they were competing until they arrived at the launch ramp each morning of competition.


Late Giant Lifts Smith To Victory At B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional On Havasu

Taylor Smith, of Valleyford, Wash., has won the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Havasu with a two-day total of 33 pounds, 15 ounces.

Photo by Brenden Kanies/B.A.S.S.

February 5, 2021

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Taylor Smith caught only five bass on the final day of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Havasu, and it was the final bite that gave him the weight he needed to win the season-opener on the 2021 B.A.S.S. tournament schedule.

Smith hooked a 5-pound largemouth a few dozen yards from the Lake Havasu State Park weigh-in site with only 45 minutes of tournament time remaining on Friday. The catch rounded out his 15-pound, 13-ounce limit and added to his 18-2 limit on Day 1. Smith finished with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 33-15.

The 35-year-old Valleyford, Wash., resident won $5,000 for topping the boater division. It was part of a $27,200 total purse split between the best of the 177 competitors this week on the 19,200-acre impoundment straddling the Arizona/California border.

Smith is no stranger to success in B.A.S.S. Nation events. He finished second in the Nation Championship at South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell in 2019, which qualified him for the 2020 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk held on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville.

Smith’s win at Lake Havasu qualified him for the 2021 Nation Championship, which will be held later this year at a location to be determined.

“I’m jacked,” he said. “It was such a fun time down here. I didn’t have very high expectations. My pre-fishing was terrible. So, I’m elated. To have another chance to fish for a berth in the Classic is unbelievable.”

Smith was in second place after Day 1 on Wednesday, trailing only California’s Matty Wong, who led with 18-8. That’s how standings remained Friday, as Thursday’s competition was canceled due to strong winds in the region. B.A.S.S. officials determined the full field would fish again on Friday, and Mother Nature cooperated with postcard-perfect weather — winds at a much tamer 10 mph, bluebird skies and temperatures in the low 70s.

Still, Smith struggled to find bites Friday. His luck changed with the 5-pounder he caught on a green pumpkin football-head jig outfitted with a blue trailer.

“I yelled so loud when I caught that fish, I’m surprised you didn’t hear me up here (at weigh-in),” Smith said of his big catch. “But other than that, it really was a grind out there today.

“A lot of people had fish follow a jerkbait or a spinnerbait (on Wednesday), but I think that just slowly went away. I couldn’t get any kind of reaction bite today.”

Smith believed Thursday’s turbulent conditions made the fishing tougher Friday.

“The wind yesterday changed things for me, so I feel lucky to catch what I did,” he said. “I didn’t think I had (as much weight as I did).”

Steve Lund, who was in fourth on Day 1, climbed to second overall with a two-day total of 32-2. The Glendale, Ariz., resident caught a 16-1 limit on Friday, which was the heaviest bag of the day. Wong finished third with 28-5.

Jake Morrison of Scottsdale, Ariz., caught six bass weighing 12-11 and won $2,500 for finishing first in the co-angler division. Tom Nokes of Riverton, Utah, led the Day 1 co-angler standings and finished second overall with 12-8. Hunter Loveless of American Fork, Utah, was third with 12-0.

The squad from Washington State handily won the team championship portion. Washington anglers caught 76 bass over two days for a total weight of 188-13, and the squad collected $5,600 with the win. Idaho finished second (62 bass, 140-1) and won $3,350, while Arizona (56 bass, 135-15) placed third and won $2,200.

Other states in team scoring included California, fourth, 132-6; Utah, fifth, 131-10; Oregon, sixth, 129-3; Montana, seventh, 128-3; Wyoming, eighth, 127-5; and Nevada, ninth, 126-1.

Jay Evans of Missoula, Mont., won the $500 Big Bass Award with a 6-pounder he caught Wednesday. Scooter Griffin of Hayden, Idaho, caught a 4-12 bass Friday to win the $250 top prize for big bass among co-anglers.

JJ Gibbs IV, who lives in Lake Havasu City, won the Garmin Tournament Rewards prize of $500. He finished fourth in the boater division with a two-day total of 26-3.

The leading angler and co-angler for each state team at the Western Regional qualified for the B.A.S.S. Nation Team Championship. Four other regionals will be held in 2021, including: April 21-23 at Milford Lake in Junction City, Kan.; April 28-30 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C.; June 23-25 at Lake Erie/Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pa.; and Sept. 1-3 on the upper Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis.

2021 TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional Lake Havasu 2/3-2/5
Lake Havasu, Lake Havasu City AZ.
(BOATER) Standings Day 2

Angler Hometown No./lbs-oz Pts Total $$$

1. Taylor Smith Valleyford, WA (WA) 10 33-15 0
2. Steve Lund Glendale, AZ (AZ) 10 32-02 0
3. Matthew Wong Culver City, CA (CA) 8 28-05 0
4. JJ Gibbs IV Lake Havasu City, AZ (A 10 26-03 0
5. Jay Evans Missoula, MT (MT) 8 25-07 0
6. Jason Crone Kalispell, MT (MT) 10 23-15 0
7. Ken Day Kennewick, WA (WA) 10 22-05 0
8. Ben Byrd Moab, UT (UT) 10 21-15 0
9. Jeremy Mckay Eugene, OR (OR) 8 21-14 0
10. Harrison Bertsch Rathdrum, ID (ID) 10 21-08 0
11. Clint Johanson Cle Elum, WA (WA) 8 21-05 0
12. Don Allphin Manila, UT (UT) 7 19-15 0
13. Timothy Wells Clovis, CA (CA) 6 19-14 0
14. William Naugle Lake Havasu City, AZ (N 9 19-04 0
15. Earl Wells Payette, ID (WY) 8 18-02 0
16. Bubba O'Neill Jr Evanston, WY (WY) 7 18-00 0
17. Josh Worth Grand Junction, CO (UT) 7 17-05 0
18. James Castillo West Richland, WA (WA) 9 17-03 0
19. Sean Andrachick Marion, MT (MT) 7 16-04 0
20. Chris Harvey Idaho Falls, ID (WY) 6 15-15 0
21. Mat Cole Hayden, ID (ID) 5 15-15 0
22. Justin Campbell Pasco, WA (WA) 7 15-06 0
23. Dick Watson Alta Loma, CA (NV) 6 15-02 0
24. Frank Scarla Amity, OR (OR) 7 14-09 0
25. Jason Virgil Hermiston, OR (OR) 6 14-02 0
26. Cody Steckel Las Vegas, NV (NV) 6 13-07 0
27. Kevin Wiggins Winterheaven, NV (NV) 6 13-05 0
28. Timmy Wells II Fresno, CA (CA) 7 13-05 0
29. Toby Robinson Henderson, NV (NV) 5 13-04 0
30. Benny Mello Wilder, ID (ID) 8 12-11 0
31. David Kromm Kennewick, WA (WA) 4 12-10 0
32. Jeffry Ball Pendleton, OR (OR) 6 12-09 0
33. Cole Schneider Rathdrum, ID (ID) 6 12-07 0
34. Jason Warren Pleasant Grove, UT (UT) 6 12-01 0
35. Mel Williams Kennewick, WA (WA) 5 11-06 0
36. Frankie Mueller Kingman, AZ (AZ) 5 11-02 0
37. Bruce Harris Oakdale, CA (CA) 4 11-01 0
38. Justin Hicks Gunnison, CO (UT) 5 10-13 0
39. Addam Gross Pendleton, OR (OR) 5 10-04 0
40. Cody Pierson Pocatello, ID (WY) 4 10-01 0
41. Scott Rich Ogden, UT (WY) 4 09-09 0
42. Kenneth Cleveland Bakersfield, CA (CA) 3 08-11 0
43. Cully Scroggins Longview, WA (WA) 2 08-10 0
44. Dane Lawrence Tillamook, OR (MT) 4 08-10 0
45. Clif Gallagher Saint George, UT (WY) 3 08-05 0
46. Zackery Shaff Richland, WA (WA) 4 08-05 0
47. Tim Johnston Plains, MT (MT) 4 08-03 0
48. Kevin Melford Camarillo, CA (CA) 4 08-03 0
49. Justin Soppe Middleton, ID (ID) 3 07-11 0
50. Brent James St George, UT (NV) 2 07-09 0
51. Zack Holwerda Maricopa, AZ (AZ) 3 07-08 0
52. Stephen Pike Las Vegas, NV (NV) 3 07-06 0
53. Cory Kerber Kerman, CA (CA) 3 07-05 0
54. Kalib Lund Glendale, AZ (AZ) 4 07-00 0
55. Josh Ragan Rathdrum, ID (ID) 3 06-13 0
56. David Bertsch Harrison, ID (ID) 3 06-13 0
57. Tony McCalmant Post Falls, ID (ID) 3 06-11 0
58. Brandon Morton San Tan Valley, AZ (AZ) 3 06-06 0
59. Karl Okerman Sandpoint, ID (MT) 3 06-02 0
60. Douglas Gaskill Las Vegas, NV (NV) 3 05-15 0
61. Kory Ray Lebanon, OR (OR) 4 05-12 0
62. Tyler Ivie Ogden, UT (UT) 2 05-11 0
63. Brian Kennemer Bakersfield, CA (CA) 2 05-09 0
64. Ray Huff Bakersfield, CA (CA) 3 05-04 0
65. Joe Cole Coalville, UT (WY) 2 05-01 0
66. Drew Forster Kalispell, MT (MT) 2 05-00 0
67. Chris Cook Gilbert, AZ (AZ) 2 04-15 0
68. Jonathan Schuyler Las Vegas, NV (NV) 2 04-05 0
69. Paul Morley Kaysville, UT (WY) 2 04-01 0
70. Jake Anderson Richland, WA (WA) 1 04-01 0
71. Brian Bolander Scottsdale, AZ (AZ) 2 03-07 0
72. Mike Rennie Pioche, NV (NV) 2 03-07 0
73. Jim Hawkes A.J., AZ (AZ) 1 03-05 0
74. Andrew Sayles Middleton, ID (WY) 2 03-00 0
75. Levi Ployhar Kalispell, MT (MT) 1 02-13 0
76. Marc Caldwell Rifle, CO (UT) 1 02-10 0
77. Bill Brown Grand Junction, CO (UT) 1 02-09 0
78. Reece Wells Clovis, CA (CA) 1 02-07 0
79. Kenny Carver Coeur D Alene, ID (ID) 1 02-06 0
79. Eric Inman West Jordan, UT (UT) 1 02-06 0
81. Kyle Quinnell Kalispell, MT (MT) 1 02-00 0
82. Billy Ricker Clinton, UT (UT) 1 01-15 0
83. Todd Herman Gilbert, AZ (AZ) 1 01-13 0
84. Cody King Island City, OR (OR) 1 01-11 0
85. Brett Bennett Kalispell, MT (MT) 1 01-10 0
86. Don Dethloff Jr Rathdrum, ID (ID) 1 01-09 0
87. David Mays Portland, OR (OR) 1 01-06 0
88. Ryan Sparks Beaverton, OR (OR) 0 00-00 0
88. Ron Wiseman Pendleton, OR (OR) 0 00-00 0


Major League Fishing Wiley X Summit Cup Wraps Production on Lake Murray

Bass Fishing Event Completes Week-Long Television Shoot in Lake Murray Country with 30 Pro Anglers Competing to Win Prestigious Summit Cup Championship

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Feb. 5, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) and 30 of the world’s best pro anglers wrapped production Friday at the MLF Wiley X Summit Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches event in Columbia, South Carolina. The event, hosted by the Capital City/Lake Murray Country and filmed entirely for television broadcast, was shot over six days this week and featured anglers competing for the prestigious Summit Cup championship.

Lake Murray has played host to numerous major bass-fishing championship events, including the 2008, 2014 and 2017 FLW Cup Championships, and a 2018 MLF Challenge Select event – won by pro Keith Poche (competing in this event). The Wiley X Summit Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches will mark just the second time that MLF has visited the “Jewel of South Carolina.”

“Lake Murray has become a world-class fishing destination for anglers of all ages, and we are proud to once again host Major League Fishing as they return for a second time,” said Miriam Atria, president and CEO of the Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board. “Time and time again, Lake Murray has delivered a competitive tournament experience for the anglers and showcased why it is one of the most productive bass fisheries in the world. We’re excited that Governor Henry McMaster was able to join us for the filming of the community segment showcasing Lake Murray Country to hundreds of thousands of outdoor recreational visitors.”

The six-episode, two-hour series features the professional anglers visiting Lake Murray to compete on different zones of Lake Murray on each day of competition. The anglers do not learn where they are competing until they arrive to the launch ramp each morning of competition, creating a reality-based television episode that showcases how the top anglers break down new and unfamiliar waters.

“A combination of the fast-paced MLF format and uncharted waters results in nerve-wracking competition for the anglers and creates incredible content for the viewer,” said Michael Mulone, Senior Director of Events and Partnerships for MLF. “Lake Murray is a fantastic fishery and once again the Lake Murray Country community truly rolled out the red carpet for us. It’s such a pleasure to come to a community that understands the positive impact MLF has on a destination’s economy. We look forward to returning later this year with the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and many more tournaments in the years to come.”

The 30 anglers competing in the Wiley X Summit Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches event are: Justin Atkins, Tommy Biffle, Brent Chapman, Luke Clausen, Dustin Connell, Brandon Coulter, Cliff Crochet, James Elam, Shin Fukae, Greg Hackney, Alton Jones Jr., Bobby Lane, Russ Lane, Jordan Lee, Mike McClelland, Andy Morgan, Ish Monroe, Takahiro Omori, Keith Poche, Jacob Powroznik, Skeet Reese, Marty Robinson, Bradley Roy, Fletcher Shryock, Gerald Spohrer, Jeff Sprague, Bryan Thrift, Jonathon VanDam, Kevin VanDam and Greg Vinson.

The MLF Wiley X Summit Cup presented by B&W Trailer Hitches, hosted by Capital City/Lake Murray Country, will air on the Outdoor Channel as six, two-hour original episodes each Saturday afternoon starting May 15, 2021, airing from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT. The full television schedule can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com/tv-schedule .


Weather Will Be Key For Bassmaster Elite Series-Opener On The St. Johns River

The Bassmaster Elite Series will open its nine-event 2021 season on Florida's scenic St. Johns River Feb. 11-14.

Photo by Andy Crawford/B.A.S.S.

February 5, 2021

PALATKA, Fla. — John Cox wishes he could experience temporary amnesia during the upcoming AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at the St. Johns River. That’s because much of what the Florida pro has learned over the past two decades of fishing this big-fish factory will be of little relevance during this year’s season-opener.

Competition is set for Feb. 11-14 with daily takeoffs at 7 a.m. ET from Palatka City Docks and weigh-ins each day at 3 p.m. from Palatka Riverfront Park.

Long regarded as one of Florida’s top-tier fisheries, the St. Johns once boasted a vast acreage of swaying eelgrass that served as prime habitat for bass in all stages of the spawn. But the fishery lost nearly all of that grass during Hurricane Irma in 2017.

So now, anglers will face a vastly different fishery than the one that has produced winning weights upwards of 90 pounds at past Elite Series events.

“I wish I could forget everything from the past 20 years,” Cox said. “It’s hard to get out of my head what it looked like in the past with all the eelgrass.

“It’s almost to the point where I have to forget about all the sight fishing that used to go on. I just have to fish for those fish because I don’t think the clarity is like it was without the grass.”

Tournament boundaries stretch from Jacksonville’s Fuller Warren Bridge (Interstate-95), south to Highway 44 in Deland. Historically, much of the field during Elite events has dispersed throughout the 72-square-mile Lake George, located south of the tournament’s takeoff and weigh-in site in Palatka. Nearby Crescent Lake will also get its share of attention.

Even without eelgrass, more vegetation awaits the anglers south of Lake George in the form of lily pads, hyacinth and pennywort. Getting away from the crowds could pay off, but the lower region includes no-wake zones and (manatee) speed zones, which require a larger investment of time for anglers making the long trek.

North of Palatka’s Main Street Bridge, the river broadens and offers more docks, canals and creeks — the scenario in which Paul Mueller found last year’s winning fish during an event that was shortened to three days by inclement weather. Others, including fifth-place pro Jake Whitaker, fared well by tucking into protected canals and targeting docks and seawalls.

This year, anglers will also be allowed to lock into Rodman Reservoir, south of Palatka. Adding these waters will avail a wonderland of stump-strewn habitat rich with pad fields and random laydowns.

Throughout much of the St. Johns, offshore anglers will be looking for shellbars like the ones that nearly delivered the win for last year’s Day 1 leader, Kelley Jaye.

February is always a volatile month for Florida weather, so tournaments this month are usually a feast-or-famine affair. That said, if tournament week brings warm, stable conditions, a wave of spawning bass could turn the event into a barnburner.

“There’s been a cooler winter; it’s been spread out longer, so we’re a little behind,” Cox said. “So, all the fish could really come in, like 2019 when B.A.S.S. legend Rick Clunn claimed his 16th Bassmaster win with 98 pounds, 14 ounces.

“I’ve been fishing Lake Toho and the pond at my house and they’re a couple weeks (behind schedule). But it won’t take much for it to get back on track. We’ll have a little cooldown right before practice starts, so if there’s a warming trend during the whole tournament, it could be great.”

With lower water clarity curtailing traditional sight fishing, the tournament will see less precise bed-fishing strategies. Some anglers will still pursue spawners, but it’ll likely be a strategy of blind casting to promising areas with a mix of topwaters, light jigs and Texas-rigged plastics.

Depending on weather patterns, some may target prespawn staging fish. Swim jigs, bladed jigs, swimbaits, lipless baits and squarebills could come into play for that. Elsewhere, anglers will use flipping and punching techniques, suspending jerkbaits and wacky-rigged worms.

Last year’s event saw Mueller win his second Elite trophy with a three-day total of 47 pounds, 6 ounces. That’s an average of just under 16 pounds a day — far less than the nearly 25-pound average that Clunn had with a four-day winning total of 98-14 in 2019.

That’s Florida fishing; it varies year to year and, often, week to week during the first quarter. On the upside, the St. Johns is packed with quality fish, including a generous smattering of double-digit giants.

“I think if someone does stumble onto some eelgrass, they could win the tournament,” Cox said. “If we get the warming trend and we don’t get much wind, the winning weight could be in the 90s, and it could be a Century Club (100 pounds) tournament.”

David Fritts announced earlier this week that he is withdrawing from the event for medical reasons. Fritts, who was hospitalized briefly in January, hopes to return for the Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River Feb. 25-28.

The full field of anglers will fish the first two days, with the Top 50 advancing to Semifinal Saturday. The Top 10 remaining anglers will fish Championship Sunday with a $100,000 prize on the line.

Live coverage for all four days of the event can be streamed on Bassmaster.com and the FOX Sports digital platforms. FS1 will also broadcast live from the tournament beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.


B.A.S.S. Cancels Day 2 Of Lake Havasu Event

February 4, 2021

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — B.A.S.S. officials made a decision to cancel the second day of competition at the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional after the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a wind advisory until 6 p.m. MST. The wind advisory is calling for sustained winds of 25 mph with gusts over 40, making the fishery unsafe for boaters.

“With a strong north-northwest wind blowing right down Lake Havasu, it can get very dangerous,” said Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation Director. “The safety of our anglers is always our first priority.”

When the tournament resumes Friday, the full field of 177 anglers across the boater and nonboater divisions will compete. The final day of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional will begin with a takeoff at 7:15 a.m. MST from Lake Havasu State Park. Weigh-in is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. and can be seen on Bassmaster.com.


Wong Takes Lead At B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional On Lake Havasu

Matthew Wong, of Culver City, Calif., is leading after Day 1 of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional at Lake Havasu with 18 pounds, 8 ounces.

Photo by Brenden Kanies/B.A.S.S.

February 3, 2021

LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — Matt Wong has only fished Lake Havasu four times, but the 32-year-old Los Angeles resident looked like an old pro here Wednesday on Day 1 of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional.

Wong weighed a five-bass limit that totaled 18 pounds, 8 ounces, giving him a slim 6-ounce lead in the tournament, which is the season-opener on the 2021 B.A.S.S. schedule. A total of 177 anglers (89 boaters and 88 nonboaters) are competing, with anglers hailing from Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Wong was the standout on Wednesday. His best bass was only in the 4-pound range, but he backed it up with a quartet of keepers that were only ounces lighter.

Wong said he didn’t have a particularly easy day on the 19,300-acre impoundment straddling the Arizona/California border.

“It was tricky out there,” he said. “I was banking on the early-morning bite, and I was able to catch three by about 10 a.m. I kept my rotation going, but they quit eating. So I made a long run to a place where I spotted a big fish on the last day of practice, and she was still there. That was the biggest one and, luckily, I got her to eat.”

That bass, which Wong caught at about 1 p.m., provided him the extra ounces he needed to climb atop the leaderboard. A trio of competitors are hot on his heels, including Washington’s Taylor Smith with 18-2; Montana’s Jay Evans with 17-10; and Arizona’s Steve Lund with 16-1.

No other angler is within 5 pounds of Wong’s lead.

Smith, a 35-year-old insurance company supervisor from Spokane, Wash., said he was grouchy after a few lackluster practice rounds. His mood was considerably lighter with an 18-2 limit on the board.

“I got bit throughout the day and on a lot of different things,” Smith said. “Everything came together and I wasn’t expecting that. I concentrated on fishing slow because there are so many fish in here.”

Evans, a 50-year-old research scientist from Missoula, Mont., drove through a substantial snowstorm to arrive at Lake Havasu City, where temperatures were 75 degrees and the sun shined brightly on Wednesday.

Like Smith, he said the first day was much more productive than his practice rounds.

“We probably caught 10 keepers today, but they were good fish,” Evans said. “I found them in practice. We shook them off then and just didn’t realize the quality of the fish or how many were in there. It ended up being a really nice day.”

He also said patience was key.

“I’m fishing slow,” Evans said. “I couldn’t get much of a reaction bite going, so I just slowed down and picked it apart. That helped me get some bites. Patience was key.”

Day 2 could try the patience of all anglers and B.A.S.S. officials, too.

Strong winds are expected to begin sweeping across the region overnight, with steady winds of more than 20 mph predicted for the duration of tournament hours.

B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart said he’ll consider his options Thursday morning and decide how to proceed based upon the weather.

If the three-day tournament continues without interruption, the field will be cut after Thursday’s round. The leading 17 anglers in both the angler and co-angler division — along with the Top 2 anglers and co-anglers from each state if they are not already in the Top 17 — will compete Friday. The angler with the heaviest three-day total will win a $5,000 cash prize, while the leading co-angler will earn $2,500. There’s a total purse of $27,200 up for grabs.

Evans caught a 6-pound bass, the heaviest in the angler division on Wednesday. The competitor with the heaviest fish after three days wins a $500 Big Bass Award. Dean Yamagata caught a 4-pound, 2-ounce bass and leads co-anglers for the $250 Big Bass Award.

Utah’s Tom Nokes leads the overall co-angler field with a limit of three bass weighing 8-6. Arizona’s Jake Morrison is second with 7-11 and Yamagata, who is from Las Vegas, is third with 6-8.

The nine states also are competing in a team competition this week on Lake Havasu. Washington leads with 40 bass for a 98-4 total. Nevada is second with 33 bass weighing 82-6, and Montana is third with 35 bass weighing 81-11.

This week’s tournament is the first of the 2021 B.A.S.S. season and the first of five B.A.S.S. Nation regionals scheduled this year. Other Nation events on the schedule include April 21-23 at Milford Lake in Junction City, Kan.; April 28-30 at Lake Hartwell in Anderson, S.C.; June 23-25 at Lake Erie/Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pa.; and Sept. 1-3 on the upper Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. The B.A.S.S. Nation Championship will be held later this year when all regionals are complete, but a date and location have yet to be announced.

If the weather cooperates, Day 2 of the TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Western Regional will begin with a takeoff at 7:15 a.m. MST from Lake Havasu State Park. Weigh-in is scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m. and can be seen on Bassmaster.com.


Smiley Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on Lake Chickamauga

Jacksboro’s Roberts Wins Strike King Co-Angler Division

DAYTON, Tenn. (Feb. 2, 2021) – Boater Tim Smiley of White Pine, Tennessee, won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine at Lake Chickamauga in Dayton, Tennessee. Smiley earned $7,441 for his victory at the event, hosted by Fish Dayton and the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council.

TOP 10 RESULTS

RANK BOATER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Tim Smiley of White Pine, Tenn. 5 25-5 $7,441
2nd Justin Botts of Bluff City, Tenn. 5 22-10 $2,775
3rd Chris Dodson of Spring City, Tenn. 5 22-8 $1,846
4th Tim Saylor of Johnson City, Tenn. 4 20-4 $1,295
5th Chad Ball of Damascus, Va. 5 20-0 $1,310
6th Mickey Beck of Lebanon, Tenn. 5 19-6 $1,018
7th Jerry Shepard of Lebanon, Va. 5 16-10 $925
8th Wayne Norman of Jacksboro, Tenn. 4 16-6 $833
9th Blake Gideon of Cleveland, Tenn. 3 16-1 $740
10th Seth Davis of Harrison, Tenn. 5 15-10 $1,148
RANK STRIKE KING CO-ANGLER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Seth Roberts of Jacksboro, Tenn. 5 24-12 $2,775
2nd Andy McNeel of Soddy Daisy, Tenn. 4 13-6 $1,388
3rd Cody Moore of Ooltewah, Tenn. 4 12-4 $924
4th Curtis Crooke of Washburn, Tenn. 2 12-1 $848
5th George E. Stoeppel of Spring City, Tenn. 3 11-6 $555
6th Tim Godsey of Chickamauga, Ga. 4 11-0 $509
7th Raymond Hanlon of Chattanooga, Tenn. 5 10-10 $463
8th Lynn Spears of Athens, Tenn. 4 9-8 $416
9th Jordan Loveless of Indianapolis, Ind. 5 9-5 $370
10th Cameron Crider of Dwale, Ky. 3 9-1 $324

CONTINGENCY AWARDS

 

AWARD NAME CONTINGENCY PAYOUT
Boater Berkley Big Bass Tim Smiley of White Pine, Tenn. 10-pound, 6-ounce bass $890
Strike King Co-Angler Berkley Big Bass Justyn Potter of McRoberts, Ky. 8-pound, 14-ounce bass $455
Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus Seth Davis of Harrison, Tenn. Eligible Phoenix Boat* $500

* 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 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

WINNING BAITS

ANGLER BAIT COLOR
Boater BOOYAH Hard Knocker lipless crankbait Not Specified
Strike King Co-Angler Queen Tackle 1/2-ounce tungsten jig Not Specified

2021 QUALIFICATION OPPORTUNITIES

EVENT DATE LOCATION HOST
Volunteer Division – Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship Oct. 14-16 Lake Murray, Columbia, S.C. Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board
Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American June 3-5 Douglas Lake, Dandridge, Tenn. Jefferson County Department of Tourism

The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The top six finishers in each regional will then qualify for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.

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


Griffith Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on Lake Eufaula


Vance’s Craver Wins Strike King Co-Angler Division

EUFAULA, Ala. (Feb. 1, 2021) – Boater Donald Griffith of Robertsdale, Alabama, won the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine at Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. Griffith earned $5,627 for his victory at the event, hosted by the Eufaula Barbour County Chamber of Commerce.

 

TOP 10 RESULTS

RANK BOATER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Donald Griffith of Robertsdale, Ala. 5 18-11 $5,627
2nd Terry Stevens of Marianna, Fla. 5 18-8 $2,813
3rd Ryan Ingram of Phenix City, Ala. 5 18-5 $1,877
4th Chris Hensley of Marbury, Ala. 5 17-10 $1,813
5th Dale Tomazin of Gainesville, Ga. 5 17-2 $2,035
6th Jeremy Green of Gadsden, Ala. 4 17-0 $1,032
7th Sean Bierman of Wewahitchka, Fla. 5 16-13 $938
8th Michael M. Smith of Andalusia, Ala. 5 16-5 $797
8th Austin Swindle of Parrish, Ala. 5 16-5 $797
10th James Swindle of Parrish, Ala. 5 15-11 $623
10th Mark McCaig of Oxford, Ala. 5 15-11 $623

 

RANK STRIKE KING CO-ANGLER NAME/HOMETOWN BASS WEIGHT AWARD
1st Jesse Craver of Vance, Ala. 5 15-8 $2,813
2nd Scott Noles of Woodland, Ala. 5 10-15 $1,407
3rd Justin Girdner of Wetumpka, Ala. 5 10-11 $938
4th Jonathan Barksdale of Armuchee, Ga. 5 10-5 $656
5th Terry Harper of Ranburne, Ala. 5 10-4 $563
6th Austin Navarre of Carriere, Miss. 4 10-2 $516
7th O’Brien Brown of Pinson, Ala. 5 9-12 $469
8th Robert Slaton of Marietta, Ga. 5 9-8 $422
9th Tommy Nichols of Fayette, Ala. 5 9-6 $375
10th Cameron McBride of Newnan, Ga. 3 9-3 $328

 

CONTINGENCY AWARDS

AWARD NAME CONTINGENCY PAYOUT
Boater Berkley Big BasS Dale Tomazin of Gainesville, Ga. 6-pound, 13-ounce bass $910
Strike King Co-Angler Berkley Big Bass Daniel Buswell Jr. of Fayetteville, Ga. 6-pound, 12-ounce bass $455
Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus Chris Hensley of Marbury, Ala. Eligible Phoenix Boat* $500

* 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 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

WINNING BAITS

ANGLER BAIT COLOR TYPE OF COVER DEPTH
Boater Did Not Divulge N/A N/A N/A
Strike King Co-Angler Spinnerbait White N/A 5 to 8 Feet

2021 QUALIFICATION OPPORTUNITIES

EVENT DATE LOCATION HOST
Bama Division – Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship Oct. 7-9 Wheeler Lake, Decatur, Ala. Decatur Morgan County Tourism
Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American June 3-5 Douglas Lake, Dandridge, Tenn. Jefferson County Department of Tourism

The 2021 MLF 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 Strike King co-anglers from each division, along with the five winners of the qualifying events, will advance to one of six Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championships. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while Strike King co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The top six finishers in each regional will then qualify for one of the longest-running championships in all of competitive bass fishing – the Phoenix Bass Fishing League All-American.

The top 45 boaters and Strike King co-anglers plus tournament winners from each Phoenix Bass Fishing League division will also earn priority entry into the Toyota Series, the pathway to the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit and ultimately the MLF Bass Pro Tour.

For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.


Lake Eufaula Lands 2021 Bassmaster Team Championship Event

Photo by Shane Durrance/B.A.S.S.

January 22, 2021

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — The last spot in the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk will be filled on historic Lake Eufaula as this Alabama fishery hosts the Bassmaster Team Championship and Classic Fish-Off Dec. 8-11, 2021.

Battling for that coveted berth in the Bassmaster Classic will be the grassroots anglers competing at the Bassmaster Team Championship. The team portion of the event will be held Dec. 8-9 and will feature anglers from across the country — 32 states in 2020. The winning duo will not only win a cash prize, but they’ll also lead the charge into the Classic Fish-Off which will take place Dec. 10-11.

The top three teams through Day 2 — six anglers in all — will have their weights zeroed and then compete individually in the Fish-Off. The competitor with the heaviest two-day total of the group will earn their spot in the Classic.

In 2020, that honor went to Jordan Wiggins, a 29-year-old Cullman, Ala., resident whose older brother Jesse notched a third-place finish in the 2019 Classic.

“What a wonderful way to end a year,” says Ann Sparks, Tourism and Main Street Executive Director for the City of Eufaula. “We are thrilled to be hosting the Bassmaster Team Championship and showing off what Lake Eufaula has to offer! Most anglers have fished our great lake, but we are excited to show off our changes and improvements to our beautiful town.”

B.A.S.S. has visited Lake Eufaula 17 times for major events, including an Elite Series tournament last year that was broadcast live to an audience of more than 2.8 million. The town itself — with a statue declaring Eufaula as the “Big Bass Capital of the World” — is known throughout the fishing industry as the hometown of legendary angler and lure designer Tom Mann. It’s the home of Mann’s Bait Company and the Johnson Outdoors location where Humminbird electronics are produced.

In addition to the Team Championship event, Lake Eufaula will also host the Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX on May 1.


MLF Postpones Upcoming Lake Shasta Tournaments

REDDING, Calif. (Jan. 20, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the postponement of three tournaments scheduled for Jan. 28-31 on Lake Shasta in Redding, California. The decision was made after MLF officials learned of new travel restrictions implemented by the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Service in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The new restrictions prevent anglers who are traveling from more than 120 miles away from competing in the event.

The MLF events that have been postponed are:

  • Jan. 28-30: Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Western Division at Lake Shasta
  • Jan. 30: Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Lake Shasta
  • Jan. 31: High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing at Lake Shasta

Rescheduled dates for these three events will be announced as soon as possible.

Being an inherently socially distant sport, the vast majority of 2021 tournaments will continue as scheduled, operating under COVID-19 protocols to safeguard the health and well-being of all involved. MLF will continue to follow the suggestions and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health professionals and permitting agencies.

For complete details and updated information, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitter,  Instagram, and  YouTube.


Panzironi Wins Phoenix Bass Fishing League on Harris Chain

LEESBURG, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2021) – Eric Panzironi of Longwood, Florida, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Saturday weighing 24 pounds, 12 ounces to win the 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine at Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida. Panzironi earned $6,000 for his victory.

“I stayed on Harris all day, which was a short run for me but it worked out nicely,” said Panzironi. “I caught all my fish on a black-colored Zoom Magnum Trick Worm in 10 to 12 feet of mostly dirty water.

“The real key to the victory was the Garmin LiveScope. I caught every single one of my fish directly beneath my boat and I could see them all. I dropped down to them and they’d eat it – it was amazing.”

Panzaroni said he was excited to walk away with a win at the first tournament of the year for the Gator division.

“It’s awesome – I love it,” he said. “To start off 2021 with a win at my first event – I definitely have no regrets.”

The top 10 boaters finished the tournament as follows:

1st: Eric Panzironi of Longwood, Fla., five bass, 24-12, $6,000
2nd: Peter Thliveros of Saint Augustine, Fla., five bass, 22-7, $3,000
3rd: Joshua Parry of Saint Johns, Fla., five bass, 20-11, $3,000
4th: Jonathan Semento of Okahumpka, Fla., five bass, 19-8, $1,900 (includes $500 Phoenix Bonus)
5th: Tyler Sheppard of Jacksonville, Fla., five bass, 19-7, $1,200
6th: Grady Johnson of Saint Cloud, Fla., five bass, 18-7, $1,100
7th: Bill Troyer of Sarasota, Fla., five bass, 17-11, $1,000
8th: Robert Crosnoe of Inverness, Fla., five bass, 17-10, $900
9th: Grady Maynard of Umatilla, Fla., five bass, 17-4, $800
10th: McCoy (Simon) Borja of Fruitland Park, Fla., five bass, 16-9, $700

Complete results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Parry also caught the largest bass in the Boater Division, a 10-pound, 2-ounce largemouth, which was good for the day’s Boater Big Bass award of $1,000.

Semento took home an extra $500 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF BIG5 Contingency 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 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.

Mike Garrett of Pensacola, Florida, won the Co-angler Division and $3,000 Saturday after catching a five-bass limit weighing 22 pounds, 3 ounces.

The top 10 co-anglers finished as follows:

1st: Mike Garrett of Pensacola, Fla., five bass, 22-3, $3,000
2nd: Shaun Ireland of Lake Worth, Fla., five bass, 17-4, $1,500
3rd: Aymon Wilcox of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five bass, 17-3, $1,000
4th: Justin Brown of Frostproof, Fla., five bass, 16-6, $900
5th: Bradley Phillips of Alachua, Fla., five bass, 15-11, $600
6th: Justin Bun of Lake Alfred, Fla., five bass, 15-0, $550
7th: Joshua Dunn of Mulberry, Fla., five bass, 14-7, $500
8th: Jason Cooper of Shelbyville, Tenn., five bass, 14-0, $450
9th: Bobby McMullin of Pevely, Mo., five bass, 13-12, $400
10th: Jake Stines of Plant City, Fla., five bass, 12-8, $350

Luke Cocke of Valdosta, Georgia caught the largest bass in the Co-angler Division, a fish weighing in at 8 pounds, 2 ounces. The catch earned him the day’s Co-angler Big Bass award of $500.

The 2021 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine on the Harris Chain of Lakes was hosted by Visit Lake County, FL.

The top 45 boaters and co-anglers in the Gator Division based on point standings, along with the five winners of each qualifying event, will be entered in the Oct. 21-23 Phoenix Bass Fishing League Regional Championship on the St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida, hosted by the Putnam County Tourist Development Council. Boaters will compete for a $60,000 prize package, including a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard and $10,000, while co-anglers will fish for a new Phoenix 819 Pro bass boat with a 200-horsepower Mercury outboard.

The 2021 MLF 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 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 MLF Bass Pro Tour.


Schedule Announced For 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — After a wildly successful inaugural campaign in 2020, B.A.S.S. officials were excited Friday to announce the regular-season schedule for the 2021 Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX.

The trail, which averaged 144 anglers per event during its inaugural season in 2020, will visit five lakes in five different states before culminating with the B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series Championship, which will be held in conjunction with the 2022 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk at a site to be determined.

The field of anglers who qualified for the National Championship during the 2020 season will compete in a rescheduled two-day event June 9-10 held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic in Fort Worth, Texas. Additional information on that tournament will be released at a later date.

“Despite facing a lot of challenges, we had a great first season for the B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series in 2020,” said B.A.S.S. Nation Director Jon Stewart. “We knew the popularity of kayak fishing had exploded; that was the reason behind starting the trail. But I’m not sure we realized just how incredibly popular the sport was until we held a few events and saw how many hardcore kayak enthusiasts showed up.

“That has us really excited about this upcoming season.”

The season’s first event will be held on one of the country’s premier big-bass factories, Lake Fork in Alba, Texas, on March 13. Fork was the site of an Elite Series event in 2020, and champion Patrick Walters blew the field away with a four-day November catch of 104 pounds, 12 ounces. Walters wasn’t the only angler to clear the century mark at a Bassmaster event on Fork last year. When the Kayak Series stopped on this fishery last March, Arkansas angler Cody Milton bested the field with a five-bass limit measuring 100 1/2 inches. That propensity for producing giant bass is why Lake Fork ranked 16th on Bassmaster Magazine’s Best Bass Lakes of the Decade in 2020.

Event No. 2 is scheduled for May 1 on world-famous Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Ala. Like Fork, the lake hosted an Elite Series event last year that was broadcast live to an audience of more than 2.8 million, and as a result, the buzz surrounding the fishery has never been louder.

From Alabama, the trail will shift to Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tenn., for a July 24 event that will see anglers fishing for a mixed bag of largemouth and smallmouth. In addition to the Kayak Series event, the popular Tennessee River fishery, which ranked 13th on the list of Best Bass Lakes of the Decade, is scheduled to host an Elite Series event and a Basspro.com Bassmaster Central Open in 2021.

As summertime tightens its grip across the country, the Kayak Series will visit the Upper Chesapeake in Cecil County, Md., on Aug. 7. The scorching summer conditions and tidal fluctuations will present a challenge like no other on the 2021 schedule, but it will also showcase the value of kayak fishing as anglers are able to access creeks and drainages that are unavailable to larger crafts.

As we move from summer to fall, the Kayak Series will finish its regular season Sept. 25 on the Upper Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wis. The fishery has been a regular stop for B.A.S.S. and its major tournaments in recent years, hosting a Central Open in 2019 and Elite Series events in 2016 and 2018. The Kayak Series also stopped on the Mississippi during their first season, with South Carolina’s Barry Davis claiming the win with five fish measuring 88 inches.

“We try to provide a good mix with all of our tournament schedules, and we believe we’ve done that with the 2021 B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series slate,” said B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin. “From the Alabama/Georgia state line to Texas and back across the country to Maryland and then to the Mississippi River, this trail offers a little bit of everything for avid kayak anglers.”

Instead of a standard weigh-in that requires scales measuring pounds and ounces, anglers will practice “catch, photograph and release” to determine the kayak tournament standings.

When an angler catches a bass, he or she will photograph it lying on an approved measuring board and submit the photo through a special mobile app provided by TourneyX. The boards will measure each bass in inches down to a quarter of an inch, and the angler with the longest five-bass limit will win.

“We established some records during our first season, and we’re looking forward to building on the things we did in Year One to see some of those records challenged and broken during our second season,” Stewart said.

Entry fees for all five regular-season events will be $250, and each will pay 30 places. Based on a full field of 150 kayaks, the total purse for each event will be $30,000. Registration will begin online Jan. 11 at Bassmaster.com.

2021 Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX regular-season schedule

March 13, Lake Fork, Alba, Texas
May 1, Lake Eufaula, Eufaula, Ala.
July 24, Pickwick Lake, Counce, Tenn.
Aug. 7, Upper Chesapeake, Cecil County, Md.
Sept. 25, Upper Mississippi River, La Crosse, Wis.


Academy Sports + Outdoors Joins Major League Fishing Sponsor Roster

TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 5, 2021) – Major League Fishing (MLF), the world’s premier tournament-fishing organization, announced today Academy Sports + Outdoors as the latest sponsor of the 2021 MLF Cup events, including title sponsorship of the 2021 Heritage Cup. As the No. 1 rated television program on the Outdoor Channel for the last five years, the MLF Cups offer Academy an extensive reach to an invested fishing audience. With 259 stores across the south and southeast United States, Academy’s retail footprint aligns with some of the top fisheries in the nation, making its investment with Major League Fishing a natural fit.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Academy to the MLF family of sponsors,” said Jim Wilburn, MLF President and CEO. “Sponsorship of the MLF Cups aligns the Academy brand with the strongest fishing audience in television, including logo placement on boats and angler jerseys throughout the season.”

“Academy Sports + Outdoors takes pride in finding new ways to increase participation in fishing and connecting anglers of all experience levels to our wide assortment of on-the-water products,” said Larry Roberts, Academy Sports + Outdoor senior vice president and general merchandising manager of outdoor. “By teaming up with MLF, we will be able to reach core customers across the country and help people make fun memories together.”

Academy has sponsored MLF pro Jacob Wheeler since 2015. Wheeler, the number one angler in the world as ranked by industry publication BassFan, will compete in three 2021 Cup events - the Lucas Oil Challenge Cup, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Heritage Cup, and the Patriot Cup.

“Academy has been a big supporter of mine for several years and they continue to invest in the outdoors, especially bass fishing,” said Wheeler. “Having them support the league that I fish means a lot; knowing how invested they are in the sport right now is a big deal.”

For more information about MLF, their tournaments and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. To learn more about Academy Sports + Outdoors, visit Academy.com.


X Zone Lures Signs Bassmaster Elite Series Pro; Carl Jocumsen

X Zone Lures is pleased to announce that they have added Carl Jocumsen to their pro staff. Starting in January of 2021 Carl Jocumsen will represent X Zone Lures and become a major contributor to bait design and promotion for the premium bait brand.  

Carl Jocumsen says ''One of the very first Smallmouth baits introduced to me in the US was the original Slammer back in 2011, it fast became my confidence dropshot bait since that day. To now be apart of the X-Zone team is super exciting for us as their unique, innovative designs are right on my style. Looking forward to fishing with the entire range, working on new baits and having our best year yet in 2021'' 

Carl joins fellow X Zone pro staffer – Elite Series Pro, Brandon Palaniuk.

“X Zone Lures is very excited to have Carl on our team” says X Zone Lures owner, Jim Van Ryn. “Carl is one of the most versatile pro anglers today. His great personality, excellent fishing skills and his ability to win on all levels is a credit to him as an angler and to our team. We couldn’t be happier to have him with us.” 

For more about X Zone Lures, visit their site at www.xzonelures.com