Dustin Connell Leads Day 1 of Major League Fishing’s REDCREST 2023 Presented by Shore Lunch on Lake Norman

REDCREST 2021 Champ Catches Five-Bass Limit Weighing 16 Pounds, 7 ounces to Grab Early Lead After Day 1, Full field of 40 Anglers to Compete Again Thursday

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (March 8, 2023) – The top 40 professional anglers from the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour launched Wednesday morning on Lake Norman in Charlotte, North Carolina, for Day 1 of MLF’s REDCREST 2023 presented by Shore Lunch , the Bass Pro Tour championship. The five-day event, hosted by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Visit Lake Norman and the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department, features 40 anglers competing to become pro bass fishing’s newest world champion, and a top cash prize of $300,000.

Favorite Fishing pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, the REDCREST 2021 Champion, caught a five-bass weight of 16 pounds, 7 ounces, to grab the early lead after Day 1 of competition. Right behind Connell in second place is California pro Brent Ehrler, who caught five bass weighing 15-11. Fellow REDCREST Champion, REDCREST 2019 winner Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma , sits in third place with five bass weighing 15-6. The full field of 40 anglers will compete again tomorrow for Day 2 of competition. Only the top 20 anglers after Thursday will advance into the Championship Round of competition.

“Today I had a great day, but the plan is just to take this one day at a time,” Connell said. “This is a long week. I knew coming in that if you could figure out the prespawners, it would last. And today I had a really good start. But all that matters is this weekend. That’s the goal, and we’ve got a long way to go. But I feel good about this start.”

Connell caught 15 scorable keeper bass – 14 spotted bass and one largemouth – Wednesday, mainly on a shaky-head rig, a jerkbait and a weightless Googan Baits Lunker Log.

“I left my best area after I caught 15 pounds and just went practicing,” Connell said. “I was catching fish pretty much the entire time. I was just kind of feeling out new areas, trying to see if the fish were doing this, or doing that.

“I’m running a pattern, and this time of the year it works really great around my house,” the Alabama pro continued. “It’s not a certain spot, it’s not a certain three spots. I’m just running and if it looks good, I’m rolling up and fishing it and I think I can catch them. I just feel like I know where they’re coming to and what they’re doing.”

The standings after Day 1 on Lake Norman are:

1st:          Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., five bass, 16-7
2nd:         Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 15-11
3rd:         Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., five bass, 15-6
4th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 15-3
5th:         Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, five bass, 14-15
6th:         Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 14-4
7th:         Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 13-12
8th:         Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., five bass, 13-11
9th:         Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 13-10
10th:       Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 12-15
11th:       Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, five bass, 12-11
12th:       Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., five bass, 12-7
13th:       Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., five bass, 12-6
14th:       Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., five bass, 12-3
15th:       Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., five bass, 12-3
16th:       Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., five bass, 12-2
17th:       Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 12-2
18th:       Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 12-0
19th:       Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., five bass, 11-15
20th:       Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 11-12
21st:       Shinichi Fukae, Osaka, Japan, five bass, 11-11
22nd:      Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 11-11
23rd:      Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., five bass, 11-10
24th:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 11-10
25th:       Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 11-7
26th:       Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 11-7
27th:       Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., five bass, 11-1
28th:       Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 11-0
29th:       James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., five bass, 10-15
30th:       Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 10-15
31st:       Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 10-13
32nd:      Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., four bass, 10-8
33rd:      Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 10-1
34th:       Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 10-0
35th:       Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., five bass, 9-12
36th:       Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 8-12
37th:       Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, four bass, 8-0
38th:       Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., five bass, 7-12
39th:       Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, one bass, 3-15
40th:       David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., two bass, 3-11

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

Overall, there were 363 scorable bass weighing 756 pounds, 7 ounces caught by the 40 pros Wednesday.

Evers caught a 6-pound bass in Period 1, throwing a shallow-diving crankbait to earn the day’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.

All 40 Anglers compete on Days 1 (Wednesday) and 2 (Thursday) of the event and will score their five heaviest bass each day. After two days of competition, the field is cut to just the top 20 based on two-day total (10 bass) cumulative weight. Weights are zeroed, and the top 20 anglers compete on Day 3 (Friday). The field is trimmed to 15 anglers on Day 4 (Saturday), then the final 10 anglers compete on Day 5 (Sunday). The winner is determined by the heaviest three-day total (15 bass) cumulative weight with the winner earning the top prize of $300,000 and the REDCREST 2023 trophy.

The General Tire Take Off Ceremony will begin at 6:15 a.m., on Thursday through Saturday, and 7:15 a.m. on Championship Sunday, at Blythe Landing Park, located at 15901 N.C. 73 HY, in Huntersville, North Carolina. Anglers will depart at 7 a.m. on Days 1-4, and 8 a.m. on Day 5, and return after competition ends at 4 p.m. on Days 1-4 and 5 p.m. on Day 5. Fans are welcome to attend all launch events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

In conjunction with the event, the FREE, family-friendly General Tire Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Shore Lunch will also take place throughout the weekend, March 10-12 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at The Park Expo and Conference Center, located at 800 Briar Creek Road, in Charlotte. Fishing and outdoor enthusiasts will have the opportunity to visit numerous booths and vendors, showcasing the latest and greatest in fishing, boating and the outdoors. The biggest names in the outdoor industry will be on hand, including the professional anglers that compete on the Bass Pro Tour and fishing legends like Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin and Hank Parker.

Throughout the day there will be giveaways and prizes, including signed MLF angler jerseys, rods and reels, gift cards, and more. On Friday evening one lucky fan will win a Toro 42-inch TimeCutter Zero Turn Mower, on Saturday night one lucky attendee will win a Tracker Off Road 300 ATV, and on Sunday one lucky attendee will walk away with a brand new 2023 Toyota Tundra SR5 Crew Max. Fans must be present to win the Grand Prize drawings. For more information on the General Tire Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Shore Lunch, visit REDCRESTExpo.com.

The 2022 Bass Pro Tour featured a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country. The top 40 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the seven events qualified to compete in REDCREST 2023 Presented by Shore Lunch.

The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action from 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the first four days of competition, and from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Championship Sunday. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of REDCREST 2023 Presented by Shore Lunch will be showcased across two, two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, July 1 and July 8 on Discovery Channel. Starting in July 2023, MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery Channel, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG + Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, Toro, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and  YouTube.