Thrift Wins Group A, Ebare Catches $25K Big Bass Wednesday at Major League Fishing’s General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops Event on Caney Creek Reservoir

Reigning REDCREST Champion Boats Two-Day Total of 55-13 to Advance to Championship Round, Group B to Wrap Qualifying Round Thursday

MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. (April 26, 2023) – After starting the day in second place, reigning REDCREST Champion Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, caught a couple of giants, Wednesday to dominate the Group A Qualifying Round and win his way directly into the Championship Round at the Major League Fishing (MLF) General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops . Thrift caught five scorable bass weighing 25 pounds, 11 ounces to earn the Qualifying Round win and advance directly to Saturday’s final-day Championship Round.

Thrift’s two day total of 11 scorable bass weighing 55 pounds, 13 ounces earned him the victory by a 7-pound, 13-ounce margin over second-place pro Josh Bertrand of Queen Creek, Arizona, who landed 11 scorable bass, good for 48 pounds even.

Third-place angler, pro Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, who had caught a 9-pound, 5-ounce bass on Monday to take the early lead for the $25,000 Qualifying Round Group A Big Bass Bonus, broke his own mark on Wednesday with a 9-pound, 6-ounce largemouth to earn the $25,000 prize. Another $25,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus will be awarded Thursday to the heaviest bass weighed by Group B in their Qualifying Round, and prizes of $50,000 and $100,000 will be awarded on Friday and Saturday for the single biggest fish in the Knockout and Championship rounds.

The eight anglers advancing from Group A will have the day off Thursday, while the 15 anglers in Group B will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition. The Knockout Round, featuring 14 anglers competing to finish in the top eight, will take place on Friday. Saturday’s Championship Round will feature Thrift, Thursday’s Group B winner, and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round competing for the top prize of $100,000 along with the $100,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus.

“I am definitely going to elect to skip over the next round and go straight to the Championship Round,” Thrift said in his post-game interview. “I am so excited for a guaranteed shot to fish for $200,000 – $100,000 for first place in the Championship Round and $100,000 for big bass, on a great big bass fishery. I know there are going to be some giants caught – last time we were there I caught a 9 (pounder). And I lost one even bigger. Randy Howell caught one almost 13 (pounds). So I can’t wait to get to Bussey (Brake) and see what happens.”

Thrift caught five fish, Wednesday, with three coming on his signature Z-Man Big-Blade ChatterBait. He added a 6-pound, 7-ouncer on a medium-diving crankbait, and his last big one – a nice 7-pound, 6-ounce bass – on a soft plastic speed worm.

“I’m throwing a ½-ounce Z-Man Jack Hammer ChatterBait,” Thrift said. “I’m throwing it on my Signature Series Frog rod from Fitzgerald Fishing, with a Fitzgerald Fishing VLD10 reel on 17-pound P-Line Tactical fluorocarbon (line). This is a great setup for making long casts, when you’re fishing grass and having to rip that bait free.

“I have a Signature Series ChatterBait rod, but I really like that rod more for skipping around docks – it has a softer tip and is a little bit shorter, so you can be more accurate with your casts. But when I’m fishing open water scenarios, like I have been this week here at Caney, the frog rod really gets the job done in that situation. I’m ready to get to Bussey Brake to see if we can catch a giant!”

One angler that caught a couple of giants in Group A was Ebare, who earned the $25,000 Qualifying Round Big Bass Bonus, Wednesday.

“I wanted the clock to slow down, because I thought I might have the opportunity to run down Thrift and advance straight to the Championship Round, but at the same time I wanted the time to fly because that’s 25 grand, man,” Ebare said in his post-game interview. “I am very, very thankful for that fish – heck, both of those fish. How cool is that, to catch a 9-5 and a 9-6 – I mean, what an unbelievable fishery. This place is phenomenal. I’m just glad to be here and I look forward to another day on Caney Creek. Maybe we can catch one even bigger Friday in the Knockout Round.”

The top eight pros from Qualifying Group A that now advance to Friday’s Knockout Round on Caney Creek Reservoir are:

1nd:         Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 11 bass, 55-13
2th:         Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., 11 bass, 48-0
3th:         Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, nine bass, 39-11
4rd:         Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., eight bass, 36-12
5st:          Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 10 bass, 36-1
6th:         Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., nine bass, 30-4
7th:         Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., seven bass, 27-4
8th:         Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., nine bass, 26-12

Finishing the event in 9th through 15th place are:

9th:         Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., seven bass, 26-9
10th:       Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 19-0
11th:       Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., four bass, 16-12
12th:       Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, four bass, 16-5
13th:       Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., three bass, 15-10
14th:       Alton Jones, Sr., Lorena, Texas, five bass, 14-3
15th:       Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., one bass, 3-2

Full results can be found at

Overall, there were 48 bass weighing 196 pounds even caught by 14 pros on Wednesday, which included one 9-pounder, two 8-pounders, four 7-pounders and four six 6-pounders caught from Caney Creek Reservoir.

Different from the Bass Pro Tour regular-season events, General Tire Heavy Hitters features anglers competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format in which anglers catch as many scorable bass and as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. A bass must meet the 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable in the Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, but for the final day Championship Round a bass must weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable.

The 15 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Monday and Wednesday – the 15 anglers in Group B on Tuesday and Thursday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 8th place from both groups advance to Friday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Saturday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed and the remaining 14 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins. In addition to the tournament, Big Bass Bonuses are awarded in each round of competition with payouts of $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 awarded to the single biggest fish in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.

Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT. The Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, Days 1-5, will launch from Caney Creek Hooks Marina, located at 400 Spillway Road in Chatham, Louisiana. The final 10 anglers competing in the Championship Round will launch from Bonner Ferry Road, located five miles northwest of Bastrop off of Highway 593. 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

On Championship Saturday, April 29, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to visit the Bussey Brake boat ramp located at 5373 Boat Dock Road in Bastrop, to celebrate the top 10 and crown the 2023 General Tire Heavy Hitters Champion at the Watch Party and Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Heavy Hitters Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.

To qualify for General Tire Heavy Hitters, the weight of an angler’s single-largest bass from each event of the seven 2022 Bass Pro Tour events was recorded. The 30 anglers with the heaviest total from those seven bass qualified to compete in this event.

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

Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Aug. 5 and running each Saturday through Sept. 9 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Event include: Abu Garcia, B&W Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders First Source, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, NITRO Boats, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Plano, Power-Pole, Shore Lunch, StarBrite, Sqwincher, T-H Marine, Toyota, United States Airforce, Yellowstone Bourbon, and YETI.

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