Randy Howell Earns Group B Qualifying Round Win at B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes

Weights Now Zeroed, Top 20 Anglers from Each Group Combine to Compete in Friday’s Knockout Round

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2023)Guntersville, Alabama, pro Randy Howell caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 36 pounds, 2 ounces, to lead Group B and win Thursday’s Qualifying Round at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One on the Kissimmee Chain Presented by Grundéns.

Howell held the lead for most of the day, Thursday, before briefly losing it late in the third period to California pro Brent Ehrler. Howell caught a 2-pound, 14-ounce largemouth as time expired to re-claim the lead from Ehrler and earn the Group B win. After starting the day in 20th place, Ehrler weighed in five bass totaling 23 pounds, 1 ounce to vault up the leaderboard and end the Qualifying Round in second place. South Carolina’s Casey Ashley rounds out the top three with 10 bass weighing 34-3.

The remaining 40 anglers – the top 20 from each group – now advance to Friday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Saturday. Weights will carry over from the Knockout Round into the Championship Round, which will feature the final 10 anglers competing for the heaviest two-day cumulative total and the top prize of $100,000.

“Thankfully, we had another decent day,” Howell said in his post-game interview. “I had a good start to the morning and caught a limit pretty early and that really took the pressure off. I spent the rest of the day practicing around and covering a lot of water. I didn’t find a lot of new stuff, but I did figure out that the area I’m in has quite a bit of fish in it, so I feel pretty good about tomorrow.”

Howell spent the morning targeting fish keying on the shad spawn, rotating through Livingston topwater baits and jerkbaits. He flipped mats later in the day and caught a key fish as time expired – not only to reclaim first place atop the leaderboard, but it also provided him a clue for the Knockout Round.

“Right at the end I caught that one and found another stretch of flipping water that might be good tomorrow,” Howell said. “We got a lot accomplished today and held on for the win, just for the fun of it.

“Tomorrow, we want to be in the top 10 to get to the final day,” Howell went on to say. “It’s been going really good so far, but I want to be here on Saturday fishing for $100,000.

The top 20 pros from Group B that now advance to Friday’s Knockout Round on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes are:

1st:          Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 36-2
2nd:         Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 10 bass, 35-10
3rd:         Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 34-3
4th:         Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 34-1
5th:         Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., eight bass, 33-5
6th:         Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 10 bass, 32-15
7th:         Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, 10 bass, 32-5
8th:         Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 31-9
9th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 31-5
10th:       Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., eight bass, 31-2
11th:       Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 10 bass, 30-3
12th:       Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 10 bass, 29-10
13th:       Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 10 bass, 29-6
14th:       Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 10 bass, 28-15
15th:       Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 10 bass, 28-14
16th:       Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 10 bass, 28-3
17th:       Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., 10 bass, 27-11
18th:       Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., 10 bass, 27-11
19th:       Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 27-0
20th:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 26-4

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

Overall, there were 302 scorable bass weighing 726 pounds, 3 ounces caught by the 40 pros Thursday.

Thursday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award was awarded to pro Takahiro Omori of Tokyo, Japan, who weighed in a 9-pound, 8-ounce largemouth which bit a bladed swimjig in Period 2. 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.

The six-day event, hosted by the Kissimmee Sports Commission, showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters All-Star event and REDCREST, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Monday and Wednesday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Tuesday and Thursday. Now that each two-day qualifying round is complete, the top 20 anglers from each group advance to Friday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In the Championship Round on Saturday, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. ET from Big Toho Marina, located at 69 Lakeview Drive in Kissimmee. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Marina, beginning at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

On Championship Saturday, Feb. 18, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to come in to celebrate the top 10 and crown the Stage 1 Champion at the Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.

The B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Grundéns features anglers competing with a 1-pound, 4-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

The 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, fishing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship, held March 13-17, 2024, on a fishery to be announced.

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

Television coverage of the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Grundéns will air as two, two-hour episodes starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, July 15on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with re-airings on the 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.