World Champion Wheeler Retains Lead, Advances Directly to the Championship: 38-Angler Knockout Round Set for Tuesday

February 10, 2020 (Eufaula, Ala.) Jacob Wheeler, 2019 General Tire World Champion, held onto his lead over Group B despite a valiant run by Randall Tharp who rose into second place by day’s end. Wheeler began day two nearly ten pounds ahead of Wesley Strader and with a 14-pound, eight-ounce lead over Tharp but today was a tougher day for the Academy Sports Pro who only caught nine pounds, one ounce in three periods. As the winner of Group B, Wheeler advances directly to Wednesday’s Championship Round and receives a minimum payout of $12,000 as one of the top ten.

“I’m going to have to change up a couple things going into the Championship Round,” said Wheeler. “Today was a tough day; I just could not get those fish to bite; I could literally see them and not get them to bite.”

The drama of B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole unfolded live on MLFNOW! as the field changed with each catch. Mike Iaconelli kicked off the day with a six-pound-13-ounce largemouth only six minutes after lines in. He went on to catch two more over five pounds (23-03 total), rising from 40th place and zero pounds on Saturday to 18th place today, thus securing a spot in the Knockout Round on Tuesday.

“Just goes to show you, never give up,” reflected Iaconelli during his interview on the General Tire Takeout as he returned to the ramp. “To be able to salvage the points to fish another day, that is a good thing.”

Randall Tharp contributed to today’s storyline as he narrowed the gap to within eight ounces. In the final minutes, Tharp caught what turned out to be an un-scorable bass just shy of the two-pound minimum required per MLF rules preventing him from taking the lead.

“I wasn’t planning on exerting myself much today but ended up fishing pretty hard in Period 3,” Tharp said. “For about an hour, I was one bite away from winning the round.”

Instead of getting a day off and an automatic berth to the Championship Round, Tharp will head back to Lake Eufaula for Tuesday’s Knockout Round.

“I have enough history here that I would rather have the day off, but that day of fishing tomorrow could be an asset to stay on top of what the fish are doing,” Tharp believes. “I’m just thankful I put a little heat on Wheeler, that last hour had to be nerve-wracking for him.”

2019 Bass Pro Tour Points Champion Edwin Evers snuck over the elimination line toward the end of Period 3 into 19th place after catching a six-pound-10-ounce largemouth with less than 20 minutes to go. He finished the Qualifying Round in 18th place with 22 pounds, 12 ounces after ending Saturday (day one) with only one, two-pound catch.

The Top Ten of the Qualifying Round, Group B finished day two as follows:

Place Angler Total 2-Day Weight Day Two Weight Total Largest Fish of Day Two
1 Jacob Wheeler 51-06 9-01 3-08
2 Randall Tharp 50-14 23-01 5-08
3 Mike McClelland 42-01 24-11 6-10
4 Ott DeFoe 39-01 25-07 6-06
5 Bobby Lane 38-13 13-02 4-02
6 Wesley Strader 38-09 6-03 3-13
7 James Watson 31-09 9-13 3-14
8 David Dudley 31-08 8-09 3-01
9 Michael Neal 31-07 13-07 4-11
10 Adrian Avena 20-02 16-10 4-07

For complete results, visit, Bass Pro Tour, Results.

Daiwa Pro Ish Monroe landed today’s Berkley Big Bass weighing in at seven pounds, two ounces. Monroe finished 34th overall and will not advance into the Knockout Round but will favor well this Stage toward his Heavy Hitters qualifying weight. MLF Heavy Hitters presented by Venmo brings together the 30 anglers with the heaviest “virtual bags” after five Stages of the Bass Pro Tour. Anglers will compete for over $750,000 in prizes including a Berkley Big Bass payout ranging from $25,000 to $100,000 per day. Heavy Hitters takes place on the Kissimmee Chain (Fla.) May 16-20, 2020.

Today’s event concluded the Qualifying Round of the B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole. Two anglers advanced directly into the Championship Round on Wednesday: Bryan Thrift, winner of Group A and Jacob Wheeler, winner of Group B. The remaining eight spots in the Championship Round will be determined in Tuesday’s Knockout Round, in which the anglers who finished in places 2-20 will compete in a field of 38 for the top eight spots.

The 38 anglers competing in the Knockout Round include:


Greg Vinson
Andy Morgan
Todd Faircloth
Chris Lane
Brent Ehrler
Mark Rose
Josh Bertrand
Jacob Powroznik
Jeff Sprague
Brent Chapman
Greg Hackney
Alton Jones, Jr.
Anthony Gagliardi
Scott Suggs
Brandon Coulter
Britt Myers
Andy Montgomery
Jordan Lee
Aaron Martens
Randall Tharp
Mike McClelland
Ott DeFoe
Bobby Lane
Wesley Strader
James Watson
David Dudley
Michael Neal
Adrian Avena
Dustin Connell
Fletcher Shyrock
Luke Claussen
Kevin VanDam
Justin Atkins
Takahiro Omori
Brett Hite
Mike Iaconelli
Edwin Evers
Jesse Wiggins

Tuesday’s Knockout Round begins with launch 7-7:30 a.m. before lines-in at 8:00 a.m. Period 1 ends at 10:30 a.m. Period 2 spans 10:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Period 3 begins at 1:30 p.m. and lasts until day’s end at 4:00 p.m. The General Tire Takeout show airs approximately 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. as anglers return to the ramp.

Fans can catch all the action every day of competition on MLFNOW! livestream on or download the MLF App for your Apple or GooglePlay device or on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV).