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MLF Postpones Stage Four of the Bass Pro Tour in an Abundance of Caution

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March 23, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) Major League Fishing (MLF) announced the league will postpone the next stop on the Bass Pro Tour originally scheduled for April 3-8, 2020 in Raleigh, North Carolina in an abundance of caution surrounding the novel coronavirus. The League will monitor the situation and follow the advice of medical and Public Health officials to reschedule as quickly as possible. 
 
“The safety and health of our anglers, volunteers, staff, and host community are our primary concern,” said Jim Wilburn, Major League Fishing President and CEO. “While our format inherently allows for social distancing and other recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we feel it’s in the best interest of all involved to pause our 2020 season.” 
 
The Berkley Stage Four presented by Covercraft was originally scheduled to take place on Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, and Shearon Harris Reservoir hosted by the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
 
“We understand the decision by MLF to postpone the event,” commented Tori Collins, Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance Director. “These proactive measures are tough decisions but in the best interest for all involved. The Greater Raleigh area looks forward to welcoming the MLF Pros and staff back to North Carolina and showcasing our region’s beautiful lakes in the future.”
 
Major League Fishing will continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 and take the advice and mandates set forth by local, state, and national medical and Public Health officials to address the potential impact on future events and potential dates for rescheduling Stage Four.  
MLF strongly encourages everyone to follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on everyday prevention of viral infection, which include: 

  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid close contact with sick persons
  • Practice social distancing among your community
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects
  • Consult a healthcare provider as needed
  • For more information about the novel coronavirus, visit cdc.gov.

MLF fans can tune into the Outdoor Channel and Sportsman Channel to see original airings of the MLF Cup events including the Premiere of the 2020 Patriot Cup on Saturday, April 4, 2020. MLF Cup events feature 30 Pros from the Bass Pro Tour filmed exclusively to premiere on Outdoor Channel. 2020 MLF Cup events were filmed in late 2019.  For a complete listing of the MLF television schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com/tv-schedule.  

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Major League Fishing News

MLF Records and Rallies on Lake Fork: Atkins Breaks Christie’s Record; Neal Rallies in the Third to Sneak into First Place

March 14, 2020 (Lake Fork, Texas) 40 Pro anglers (Group B) competed on Lake Fork in the Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Three presented by TrueTimber. Justin Atkins broke the record for the largest bass caught in Major League Fishing and Bass Pro Tour histories less than 24 hours after Jason Christie set it. Brandon Coulter led the field for much of the day only to slip into second place in the last seven minutes of the day. Michael Neal came from behind in Period Three with a 35-pound, 10-fish run to end the day in first place. Group A returns to the water Sunday for their second and final day of the Qualifying Round; the bottom 20 will be eliminated.  
Alabama-resident Justin Atkins gave himself a belated 30th-birthday present on Lake Fork today by catching the largest bass in the history of both MLF and the Bass Pro Tour. Weighing in at 10 pounds, eight ounces, a personal best for Atkins, this fish beat Christie’s catch by 4 ounces, less than 24 hours later. “Look at this guy,” exclaimed Atkins moments after he calmly set the hook in a fashion resembling the experience of a Pro twice his age. “It will not last a day or two,” said Christie, in an interview late Friday after catching the first record-breaker of this Stage. “I’m looking forward to getting back out there.” Atkins won the Berkley Big Bass of the Day for Saturday and receives $1,000.

Brandon Coulter took over the lead from Dave Lefebre early in Period Two thanks to a steady stream of significant catches, including his big bass of the day weighing in at nine pounds, five ounces with 45 minutes left in the second. 49-year-old Coulter looked like he would end the day in first place until fellow Tennessean Michael Neal rallied, rising into the Top Ten with a 10-fish, 35-pound-10-ounce run in Period Three. With seven minutes remaining on the day, Neal caught a three-pound-eight-ounce largemouth to take the lead by one pound.  “Sneaky Mikey,” commented Coulter as the clock wound down to lines-out for the day. “Congratulations Michael; I wanted to win that Round bad. We had a good day and I will be back out on Monday working to win and skip the Knockout Round.”

The competition continues Sunday when Group A returns to the water for their final day of the Qualifying Round. Mark Daniels, Jr. is currently in the lead with 84 pounds, 15 ounces. Texas Pro Jeff Sprague sits in second place 12 pounds behind Daniels. The angler with the highest two-day cumulative total wins and the bottom 20 anglers will be eliminated. The weather forecast suggests thunderstorms may hinder the competition midday. Bass Pro Tour Tournament Director Aaron Beshears will consider safety over competition every time. 
 
“We continuously monitor weather on the entire body of water to determine the safest situation for the anglers and MLF staff,” said Beshears.  
 
Pending no weather delays, the day begins with launch at Oak Ridge Marina, Quitman, Texas, 9:15 a.m. CT before lines-in at 10:00 a.m. Period 1 ends at 12:30 p.m. Period 2 spans 12:45 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. Period 3 begins at 3:30 p.m. and lasts until day’s end at 6:00 p.m. The General Tire Takeout show airs approximately 6:15–7:15 p.m. as anglers return to the ramp.
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Major League Fishing & College Fishing – Details for 2020 MLF College Faceoffs Presented by Wiley X

March 2, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) — Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the schedule, host cities and details for the 2020 MLF College Faceoffs Presented by Wiley X. The four-tournament series, held in conjunction with MLF Bass Pro Tour events, will feature 20 college fishing teams competing in an MLF-style, catch-weigh-immediate release format at each event. Teams qualify to compete in the Faceoffs through their finish in select Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI tournaments.

Two teams from 10 unique schools will compete in the no entry-fee College Faceoff events for great prizes and swag from Major League Fishing and select sponsors. The total one-day combined weight of the two teams from each school will comprise the final standings.

“With all of the great enhancements being offered to MLF and FLW anglers this season, we are excited to add these great opportunities for our College Fishing competitors as well,” said Todd Walker, MLF Vice President of Operations. “We expect this year’s lineup of MLF College Faceoff tournaments to produce a series of exciting events that will allow student anglers to experience the challenge and excitement of competing in an MLF-style event.”

2020 MLF College Faceoffs Schedule

April 4: Raleigh, N.C.

  • Qualifying tournament: Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI Open at Kentucky Lake, March 17-18

April 25: Grove, Okla.

  • Qualifying tournament: Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Fort Gibson Lake, March 27

June 6: Winnebago, Wis.

  • Qualifying tournament: Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Table Rock Lake, March 6

June 27: Ogdensburg, N.Y.

  • Qualifying tournament: Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI at Smith Mountain Lake, April 17

The top 10 schools from each of the select Abu Garcia College Fishing Presented by YETI events with the most combined Tackle Warehouse Team of the Year points from their two highest-finishing individual teams will qualify. Competition waters will be in proximity to the host cities, with exact fishery details revealed to tournament anglers before the start of each event.

Each tournament will receive coverage through the MLF and FLW website and social media outlets, including interviews and a trophy presentation for top finishers on Facebook and Instagram Live. Top individual teams will be recognized, but the school with the highest total combined weight from their two participating teams will be crowned MLF College Faceoff Champion.

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Major League Fishing News

Powroznik Makes a Period 3 Power Play to Win: Final Day of Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat Brings the Action

February 26, 2020 (Okeechobee, Fla.) Jacob Powroznik rose to the top of the leaderboard by catching half his day’s fish in the final Period to win. The Virginia-native tallied 49 pounds, 11 ounces to beat his closest competitor by 11 pounds, six ounces and win $100,000. With sunny skies and a third day of warming air temperature, Lake Okeechobee emerged into an exciting, action-packed playing field for the final day of the Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat. Jacob Wheeler led for a time midday after catching 10 of his 12 fish before noon but fell short of back-to-back Bass Pro Tour Titles. The Bass Pro Tour continues March 13-18 on Lake Fork near Emory Texas.

Powroznik opened his day with a four-pound, one-ounce largemouth within the first forty minutes of competition. He continued a steady catch each period with enough weight to keep him in the hunt for the Title. Ultimately, he found late-day success catching 23 pounds, nine ounces in the final period of the day to win with 15 bass for 49 pounds, 11 ounces. 

“Words just can’t describe it,” said Powroznik moments after returning to shore. “You put yourself in a position and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. For a period of 15 minutes in the third period I think I caught about 15 pounds and that’s momentum; momentum drives us and that’s what this sport’s all about.” 

Like Powroznik, Michael Neal found a productive area and worked it for all he could. SCORETRACKER® looked as if the two were playing “strike, counter-strike” all day long. The 29-year-old Tennessean recorded his first bass, weighing in at six pounds, one ounce, at the exact same time as Powroznik. Neal had a more productive first period than Powroznik but ultimately lost the lead with only three catches in the Period 3 for a total of 38 pounds, five ounces on the day. 

Midday it appeared that Jacob Wheeler might be on his way to back-to-back Bass Pro Tour Titles after catching nine of 12 fish for the day in the first period. With only one catch each in Periods 2 and 3 respectively, Wheeler fell to third place with 34 pounds, six ounces. 

“I gave it all that I had,” he said as time ran. “I was focusing on really shallow pockets where the fish were pulling up to spawn. The water had to be shallow enough that it wouldn’t even register a depth on my electronics, the shallower, the better.”

Jeff Sprague caught the Berkley Big Bass of the day at six pounds, 12 ounces. Jacob Powroznik had the most fish on SCORETRACKER® with 15, as well as earning the Phoenix First award with a total weight of 49-11. 

The Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat Championship Round, hosted by Okeechobee County Tourism Development Board, finished as follows:

PlaceAnglerTotal WeightTotal BassLargest BassWinnings
1Jacob Powroznik 49-11155-05$100,000
2Michael Neal38-05146-01$42,000
3Jacob Wheeler34-06126-00$30,000
4Randall Tharp32-06113-15$24,000
5Jeff Sprague31-0686-12$18,000
6Fletcher Shryock31-00115-07$16,800
7Jordan Lee15-1536-00$15,600
8Takahiro Omori9-1243-00$14,400
9Zack Birge6-0623-04$13,200
10James Elam4-0622-05$12,000

For complete results from the entire week, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com, Bass Pro Tour, Results.

The Bass Pro Tour continues March 13-18, 2020, with General Tire Stage Three presented by TrueTimber on Lake Fork (Texas).  Each day begins with launch 7:15 a.m. local time 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 and interact with fans.

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Wheeler Wins the Knockout Round: Wednesday’s Championship Round Set

February 25, 2020 (Okeechobee, Fla.) Jacob Wheeler won the Knockout Round in the Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat. Zack Birge took second with only a two-pound-five-ounce deficit. SCORETRACKER® moved today on Lake Okeechobee with more than 190 bass caught as compared to 71-110 on the previous four days of competition. Five anglers tied for catching the most scorable bass at 10 caught each. Alton Jones landed the Berkley Big Bass of the Day with an eight-pound, three-ounce largemouth late in Period 3. The Championship Round begins tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. ET as 10 Pros compete for the $100,000 prize and Stage Two title. 

Academy Sports Pro Jacob Wheeler will enter his second Championship Round in as many Stages on the 2020 Bass Pro Tour. He steadily caught fish all day long but his burst of six fish in Period 2 ended with a four-pound, 13-ounce largemouth that placed him comfortably at the front of the pack. Wheeler then used Period 3 to look for additional areas rather than running up a larger lead. 

“It’s going to take a lot of weight to win tomorrow,” Wheeler predicted. “The big ones are starting to move up and it’s going to be fun. The ‘Big O’ saved the best for last.” 

At the end of the day, Wheeler scored 35 pounds, one ounce to win the Knockout Round only two pounds, five ounces ahead of Favorite Fishing Pro Zack Birge. After catching no fish on his first day of the Qualifying Round, Birge surged on Sunday to catch 27 pounds, three ounces to advance to today’s Knockout Round. Today he bettered himself with 32 pounds, 12 ounces and a second-place finish to advance to tomorrow’s Championship Round. 

“I had a good day,” Birge said, adding that his success helps ease the pain of coming up just short at Lake Eufaula where he missed the Knockout Round by one place. “I cleared my mind and went fishing with one rod on my deck all day long.” 

Birge, Wheeler, Jeff Sprague, Michael Neal, and Stephen Browning all caught 10 scorable bass today. All but Browning will advance to the Championship Round, whose last-minute catch of three pounds, two ounces still left him one pound, five ounces behind Fletcher Shyrock. 

The top eight of the Knockout Round, who will join Qualifying Round Group A winner Takahiro Omori and Qualifying Round Group B winner Jordan Lee in Wednesday’s Championship are as follows:

PlaceAnglerTotal WeightTotal BassLargest Bass
1Jacob Wheeler35-01105-15
2Zack Birge32-12105-10
3Jeff Sprague31-08105-04
4Randall Tharp30-0585-06
5Michael Neal29-11104-09
6Jacob Powroznik29-0595-12
7James Elam27-1497-05
8Fletcher Shyrock27-1176-05

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

The competition concludes Wednesday with the Championship Round where ten anglers compete for the Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat Title. The weather forecast suggests thunderstorms may hinder the competition in the morning. Bass Pro Tour Tournament Director Aaron Beshears will consider safety over competition every time. 

“We continuously monitor weather on the entire body of water to determine the safest situation for the anglers and MLF staff,” said Beshears. “With a lake the size of Okeechobee, we will be especially cautious for all involved.” 

Pending no weather delays, the day begins with launch at C. Scott Driver Park, Okeechobee, Fla. 7:15 a.m. EST 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.

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Jordan Lee Leaps from Last to First, Advances Directly to the Championship Round: 38-Angler Field Set for Tuesday’s Knockout Round

February 24, 2020 (Okeechobee, Fla.) Jordan Lee won the Group B Qualifying Round of the Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat with a one-day total of 36 pounds, 10 ounces. The 29-year-old steadily climbed SCORETRACKER®, passing Dean Rojas, who began Monday with the lead after catching 20 pounds, five ounces on Saturday. Lee earns a day off on Tuesday to advance directly to the Championship Round. Two other anglers who began their second day at zero pounds – Stephen Browning and Jeff Sprague – will join Rojas and 35 others to determine the final eight who will compete against Lee and Takahiro Omori, the winner of Group A Qualifying Round on Sunday, on Wednesday for a chance to win $100,000.

Lee said that he began the day with nothing to lose. After a scoreless Saturday, Lee opened his day with three, four-plus-pound largemouth bass in the first Period for a total weight of 13 pounds, five ounces. Lee retained his lead through a scoreless third Period after a catching one weighing six pounds, seven ounces late in Period Two. 

“Today is a day for the history books; it was special,” said Lee as he returned to the ramp for the General Tire Takeout show on MLFNOW! “I went to a place I hadn’t fished since college; I had to work for them, but it was just the right move.”

When asked if his scoreless first day impacted his outlook going into today, Lee shared that he had hope starting today and decided to listen to his instincts, a strategy that also paid off for him in Eufaula at Stage One of the Bass Pro Tour earlier this month.

“Last night I was thinking about how I had gone with my gut already this season and it paid off big,” said Lee. “So, I went someplace today that I hadn’t been in a long time again and it worked. I could tell halfway through the day I had something special.” 

Dean Rojas made the most of difficult lake conditions on Saturday to begin today with a two-pound lead over Britt Myers. Despite best efforts, Rojas caught only three scoreable bass weighing in collectively at seven pounds even to finish second, just missing the automatic berth to the Championship.

“I tried my hardest; I just never had a big bite,” reflected Rojas. “I’m going to think about my game plan and will have to make an adjustment. I missed an opportunity to qualify for the Championship Round, but I plan to change areas for tomorrow and see what I can make happen.” 

Stephen Browning made a run in Period 3 catching six scoreable bass in only 38 minutes. These, plus the one he caught midway through today’s second Period, gave him a two-day total of 18 pounds, two ounces after catching no scoreable bass on Day one of the Qualifying Round. Enough to secure 12th place, Browning advances to the Knockout Round.

“The area I fished on Saturday suffered a major temperature change in only two feet of water,” said Browning. “Then late in the third Period, I hit a flurry – a fisherman’s dream.” 

Much of the day’s drama unfolded on the elimination line as anglers battled for their place in Tuesday’s Knockout Round. Chris Lane snuck into 17th place with two, two-pound bass within the last 30 minutes of the day. With only five minutes left in the day, Alton Jones caught a three-pound, two-ounce bass, which moved him to 18th place and knocked Boyd Duckett out of the Knockout Round into 21st place. 

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

SHOP – THE NATIONAL ANGLER

PlaceAnglerTotal 2-Day Weight Day Two Weight TotalBiggest Bass
1Jordan Lee32-1032-106-07
2Dean Rojas27-087-033-13
3Josh Bertrand25-0716-106-03
4Jacob Powroznik24-1113-063-11
5Scott Suggs22-1516-046-11
6Anthony Gagliardi20-047-126-09
7Jeff Sprague20-0320-033-07
8Andy Montgomery19-132-116-06
9Todd Faircloth19-0515-055-07
10Britt Myers18-040-005-12

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

Scott Suggs caught the Berkley Big Bass of the Day weighing in at six pounds, 11 ounces. Suggs finished 5th overall and will advance into the Knockout Round with a strong showing 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 Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat. Two anglers advanced directly into the Championship Round on Wednesday: Takahiro Omori, winner of Group A and Jordan Lee, 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 on their respective days will compete in a field of 38 for the top eight spots. 

The 38 anglers competing in the Knockout Round include: Wesley Strader
Zack Birge
Ott DeFoe
Cody Meyer
Michael Neal 
Mike McClelland
Ish Monroe
Shaw Grigsby
Dustin Connell
Dave Lefebre
Jacob Wheeler
David Dudley
Randall Tharp
Jason Lambert
Adrian Avena
Fred Roumbanis
Kevin VanDam
Fletcher Shyrock
Gerald Spohrer
Dean Rojas
Josh Bertrand
Jacob Powroznik
Scott Suggs
Anthony Gagliardi
Jeff Sprague
Andy Montgomery
Todd Faircloth
Britt Myers
Greg Hackney
Stephen Browning
Mark Rose
Brent Chapman
Cliff Pace
Andy Morgan
Chris Lane
James Elam
Alton Jones
Mark Daniels Jr.

Tuesday’s Knockout Round begins on Lake Okeechobee (Eastern Standard Time) 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.

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Takahiro Omori Climbs Leaderboard to Win and Advance to the Championship Round: Zack Birge Surges 31 Places after a Scoreless First Day

February 23, 2020 (Okeechobee, Fla.) The Bass Pro Tour continued on Lake Okeechobee Sunday for the third day of the Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat. Anglers in Group A found some relief with less wind and warmer temperatures when compared to Friday’s start to the Qualifying Round. Takahiro Omori rose seven places to win the Qualifying Round for Group A securing an automatic berth in the Championship Round. Wesley Strader doubled his Friday catch to secure second place with a two-day total of 28 pounds even. Zach Birge rose 31 places after a scoreless first day by catching 27 pounds, three ounces today. Group B, currently led by Dean Rojas with 20 pounds, five ounces, will return to the water on Monday to determine the remaining 20 anglers to advance.

Ranger Boats Pro Omori opened his day with an eight-pound-four-ounce bass in the second half of the first period. He then sealed his first-place position throughout the day with a steady pace of two-pound catches. By winning “Group A” of the Qualifying Round with a two-day total of 33 pounds, nine ounces, Omori skips the Knockout Round and advances directly to Wednesday’s Championship Round. This guarantees him a minimum payout of $12,000.

Tennessee-resident Strader moved from 14th place on Friday to 2nd place today. He caught six of seven before noon and said he found a rhythm that didn’t necessarily align with his original plan. 

“Today was about having an open mind,” said Strader. “I had to go into today doing things that are not usual to Florida fishing but rather getting back to how I like to fish. I found an area that wasn’t exactly my original plan, but I stayed and figured a few more things out.” 

Zack Birge credits fellow MLF Pro Mike Iaconelli with inspiring him to go into today with a winning attitude despite a scoreless first day on Friday. Iaconelli ended his first day of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour without a catch and then surged forward in day two of the B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole Qualifying Round with a one-day total of 23 pounds, three ounces to make the Knockout Round. 

“You’re never out of it in this game,” said Birge. “I thought about how Ike caught nothing on the first day in Eufaula and then came back with a ‘big bag’ on the second day. I got a little momentum this morning and then (Ike’s success) kept me motivated.” 

After finishing 78th out of 80 anglers in 2019 – the first season with the Bass Pro Tour, Mike McClelland continued his 2020 renaissance today by earning a second top-twenty finish. He caught 19 pounds, three ounces Sunday – the third highest weight of the day behind Strader and Omori. McClelland finished seventh overall with a two-day total of 25 pounds, two ounces. One of the first anglers to join MLF, McClelland expressed his enthusiasm for both the MLF format and the variable minimum weight rule change in 2020 as energizing to him as well as the sport of competitive bass fishing. 

“This is the most stressful, intense, and exciting format I’ve ever fished,” said McClelland. “When we started MLF where every fish counts and no limits, we raised the bar for competitive fishing and now with a two-pound minimum on Lake Okeechobee our fans get to see the best pros in the world compete at the highest level in the history of bass fishing.” 

Pennsylvania native Dave Lefebre landed today’s big bass weighing in at nine pounds. He ended the day in 11th place and will advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round. This catch will also improve his position to qualify for Heavy Hitters when added with the four-pound-nine-ounce bass from Stage One in Eufaula. 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.

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

SHOP – THE NATIONAL ANGLER

PlaceAnglerTotal 2-Day Weight Day Two Weight TotalLargest Fish over Qualifying Round
1Takahiro Omori33-0919-138-04
2Wesley Strader28-0018-113-09
3Zack Birge27-0327-035-13
4Ott DeFoe25-135-095-07
5Cody Meyer25-134-146-03
6Michael Neal25-090-004-09
7Mike McClelland25-0219-033-11
8Ish Monroe23-0218-153-01
9Shaw Grigsby23-0015-134-10
10Dustin Connell23-0010-113-03

For complete results, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com, Bass Pro Tour, Results.
    Group B will return to the water Monday morning for their second day of the Qualifying Round. Take-off begins at C. Scott Driver Park in Okeechobee, Fla. at 7-7:30 a.m. ET with lines-in at 8:00 a.m. ET. Forecasts indicate the weather will continue to improve after the group’s dismal first day on Saturday when high winds and rough conditions resulted in nine anglers ending Day One scoreless.

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. 

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Major League Fishing News

Wheeler Wins Big on Lake Eufaula: B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole Champion Led the Field by 27 Pounds

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February 12, 2020 (Eufaula, Ala.) Team Toyota pro Jacob Wheeler won the Bass Pro Tour B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole with 24 bass weighing in at 68 pounds, the highest one-day total for the week. MLF Rookie Bryan Thrift led the field handsomely early in Period 1 with five catches in the first 30 minutes of competition. Ott DeFoe landed scorable bass on a steady pace all day long, including holding the lead at the of Periods 1 and 2.  Ultimately Wheeler secured a solid lead with an 11-fish run as the clock wound down.
 
With cameras rolling on MLFNOW! at the end of Period 3, Jacob Wheeler paused to take in the reality that he had won. 
 
“Unbelievable,” he exclaimed. “To start off this 2020 Bass Pro Tour season with a win here on Lake Eufaula; it’s unbelievable. I owe it to everyone who supports me, especially my wife, Alicia.” 
 
Wheeler, winner of Qualifying Round Group B and Thrift, winner of Qualifying Round Group A, each earned a Championship Round berth skipping the Knockout Round on Tuesday. A new Bass Pro Tour rule for 2020, there was some uncertainty on how a day off would fair for the advanced anglers. Thrift and Wheeler coming in first and second on Championship Round suggests that a day off is nothing to worry about. 
 
“Second place feels like a win to me,” Thrift said. “My hat’s off to Jacob, and I have no complaints about my week. It’s a great feeling to finish well in my first Major League Fishing event.” 

SHOP – THE NATIONAL ANGLER

Ott DeFoe rode a strong morning bite to a commanding lead in the second period. He caught the Berkley Big Bass of the Day, weighing in at six pounds 15 ounces, within 90 minutes of Period 1.  As the sun passed overhead, Thrift assumed a seemingly comfortable lead before Wheeler took control for good with an impressive flurry of fish catches:11 in one hour, 24 for the day. 
 
“I caught two right away and then the first spot dried up,” DeFoe said. “They weren’t set up the same as they were yesterday, and I couldn’t get them fired up.” 
 
The Phoenix Boats Daily Leader award went to Jacob Wheeler with 68 pounds.
 
The B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole Championship Round finished as follows:

PlaceAnglerTotal WeightTotal FishLargest FishWinnings
1Jacob Wheeler68-00244-10$100,000
2Bryan Thrift40-11135-11$42,000
3Ott DeFoe34-09106-15$30,000
4Alton Jones, Jr.26-1294-08$24,000
5Dustin Connell24-0065-11$18,000
6Brent Chapman20-1083-12$16,800
7Takahiro Omori16-0454-08$15,600
8Brett Hite9-1333-11$14,400
9Jordan Lee5-1023-08$13,200
10Adrian Avena4-0322-03$12,000

SHOP – THE NATIONAL ANGLER

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Major League Fishing News

CHRIS LANE LEAPS AHEAD IN MLF BASS PRO TOUR SEASON OPENER

February 7, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) Alabama resident Chris Lane finished day one of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole at the top of the SCORETRACKER® with 35-pounds, 12-ounces representing nine bass. Weather over recent days on Lake Eufuala played a factor in today’s competition as the excessive rain, wind, and lightning led to rising lake levels and muddy water conditions. Josh Bertrand finished in second with seven total bass weighing in at 26-pounds, six ounces. Brandon Coulter caught the Berkley Big Bass of the day, which weighed in at seven pounds, 14 ounces. 
 
Chris Lane took an early lead in Period 1 by catching the first bass of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour at 8:09 a.m. local time. The Power-Pole pro had eight fish for 33 pounds, nine ounces – a more than four-pound average – at the conclusion of that first period. Despite a drought in Period 2 and only one fish in Period 3, Lane held his lead throughout the day. Included in his total were fish that weighed five pounds, 11 ounces and five pounds, 7 ounces, respectively. 
 
“That was a great first period,” exclaimed Lane. “(In Period 3), I found an area late in the day with some clear water, and I made the mistake of not going there soon enough in the day. I look forward to getting back there (Sunday).” 
 
32-year-old Josh Bertrand of moved from fifth place to end the day at second despite a slower start in Period 1 than others. His largest bass of the day weighed in at six pounds, 10 ounces and landed two others over four pounds. The Berkley pro who lives in Arizona didn’t know what to expect today and indicated that he hopes better weather in coming days may help hasten the pace of the game. 
 
“We have some better weather coming so it might bust wide open,” said Bertrand, when asked about returning on Sunday to Lake Eufaula for his second Qualifying Day. 
 
The Top Ten of Day One, Qualifying Group A finished as follows:
 

PlaceAnglerTotal WeightTotal FishLargest Fish
1Chris Lane35-1295-11
2Josh Bertrand26-0676-10
3Todd Faircloth25-1365-08
4Bryan Thrift19-1173-13
5Greg Hackney19-0855-07
6Anthony Gagliardi19-0846-04
7Brent Ehrler17-1455-15
8Jeff Sprague17-0863-13
9Brandon Coulter16-0437-14
10Mark Rose14-0853-14

 
For complete results, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com, Bass Pro Tour, Results.
 
The Qualifying Round continues Saturday with Group B, which includes Edwin Evers, 2019 Points Champion and REDCREST presented by Venmo Champion, fishing greats Kevin VanDam and Mike Iaconelli, as well as 2019 Major League Fishing (MLF) World Champion Jacob Wheeler and MLF Rookie David Dudley. The weather forecast calls for a slightly warmer day calling for a high of 57-degrees-Farenheit and scattered showers midday. 
 
The day begins with launch 6-6:30 a.m. before lines-in at 7:00 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 MajorLeagueFishing.com or download the MLF App for your Apple or GooglePlay device or on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV).

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Major League Fishing News

MAJOR LEAGUE FISHING REVISES RULES FOR THE 2020 BASS PRO TOUR

January 21, 2020 (Tulsa, Okla.) Major League Fishing (MLF) recently announced notable rule changes for the Bass Pro Tour 2020 season including a variable weight minimum for each fishery and automatic championship berths for Qualifying Round winners. Under rules approved earlier this month by the Major League Fishing Angler Association (MLFAA) and drafted into the official rulebook, MLF will introduce a variable minimum weight system for the Bass Pro Tour competition waters in 2020. In addition, the winners of the Qualifying Round (formerly the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds) will automatically advance to the Championship Round, which guarantees them paycheck of $12,000 to $100,000.
 
Championship Berth
The six-day competition for the Bass Pro Tour begins with four days of Qualifying Rounds between two groups -A and B- of 40 anglers. Each group competes for two days (Group A on days one and three, Group B on days two and four) in a catch, weigh, and immediately release format in which every fish over that lake’s variable minimum weight counts toward each Round’s total. Under the 2020 rule changes, the winners of each group in the Qualifying Round automatically advance to the Championship Round (day six), while places 2 through 20 from each group (40 anglers total) advance to the Knockout Round on day five. The eight anglers with the highest weight totals from the Knockout Round join the winners of the Qualifying Round to compete in the Championship Round and the chance to win $100,000. 
 
Initial 2020 Angler Groups are based on the final standings from the 2019 season points. A random drawing placed MLF Rookies Bryan Thrift and David Dudley. The Bass Pro Tour opens February 7th on Lake Eufaula (Ala.) with the following groups:

Group AGroup B
Jeff Sprague (2nd)Edwin Evers (1st)
Brent Ehrler (3rd)Jacob Wheeler (4th)
Todd Faircloth (6th)Michael Neal (5th)       
Jordan Lee (7th)Dustin Connell (8th)
Mark Rose (10th)Bobby Lane (9th)         
Andy Morgan (11th)Mike Iaconelli (12th)
Aaron Martens (14th)Casey Ashley (13th)    
Andy Montgomery (15th)Ott DeFoe (16th)
Jared Lintner (18th)Wesley Strader (17th)
Greg Hackney (19th)Fred Roumbanis (20th)
Stephen Browning (22nd)Bradley Roy (21st)      
Jacob Powroznik (23rd)Zack Birge (24th)
Greg Vinson (26th)Takahiro Omori (25th)
Mark Daniels Jr. (28th)Cody Meyer (29th)      
Randy Howell (31st)Randall Tharp (30th)
Anthony Gagliardi (32nd)Jason Christie (33rd)
Alton Jones Jr. (35th)Fletcher Shryock (34th)
Gary Klein (36th)Adrian Avena (37th)
Alton Jones (39th)        Dave Lefebre (38th)
Cliff Pace (40th)Luke Clausen (41st)
Marty Robinson (44th)Gerald Spohrer (43rd)
Brent Chapman (45th)Justin Lucas (46th)
Josh Bertrand (48th)Mark Davis (47th)        
Terry Scroggins (49th)Kevin VanDam (50th)
Chris Lane (52nd)Jesse Wiggins (51st)
Matt Lee (53rd)            Jonathon VanDam (54th)
Scott Suggs (56th)Russ Lane (55th)          
Jeff Kriet (57th)Keith Poche (58th)
John Murray (60th)Justin Atkins (59th)
James Elam (61st)        Skeet Reese (62nd)
Shin Fukae (64th)James Watson (63rd)
Boyd Duckett (65th)Ish Monroe (66th)
Timmy Horton (68th)David Walker (67th)
Dean Rojas (69th)Brett Hite (70th)
Tommy Biffle (72nd)Cliff Crochet (71st)
Brandon Coulter (73rd)            Kelly Jordan (74th)
Roy Hawk (76th)Shaw Grigsby (75th)
Britt Myers (77th)        Mike McClelland (78th)
Paul Elias (80th)Jason Lambert (79th)
Bryan Thrift (N/A)David Dudley (N/A)

According to Major League Fishing rules, Group A becomes B and vice versa for Stage Two. New angler groups will be established after each two Stages based on the standings from the previous two Stages.

Variable Weight Minimums
The 2020 season will open on Lake Eufaula (Feb. 7-12) where a two-pound minimum will be in effect for scorable bass. Minimum weights are determined for each competition water based on the productivity, bass population, and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery. The 2-pound minimum for Eufaula significantly raises the average scoring requirement above the 12- to 15-inch minimums mandated by most state fisheries managers (and used for traditional tournament scoring). According to extensive nationwide research compiled by bass biologist Steven Bardin, an average 12-inch largemouth in good health weighs 0.9 pounds (14 ounces); an average 15-inch largemouth weighs 1 pound, 13 ounces. 

The Lake Eufaula 14-inch minimum mandated by Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries – the standard used by tournament organizations as the minimum size allowed in a tournament weigh-in on the Alabama/Georgia border lake – translates to a 1-pound, 8-ounce bass (25 percent smaller on average than the 2-pound Bass Pro Tour minimum).

“We’re going to show up at one of the best fisheries in the country at Eufaula and ask these guys to fish for a minimum weight standard that’s the highest in the history of our sport. We know they’re going to catch big ones,” said Marty Stone, MLFNOW! Analyst, “but raising the bar to a 2-pound minimum resets the playing field. I’ll be interested to see how that affects the game.”
The Major League Fishing will announce the weight minimum to the anglers 30 days in advance of each Stage of the Bass Pro Tour. The variable minimum weight will not be incorporated into MLF Cup competitions or the World Championship. 

The 2020 Bass Pro Tour
The Bass Pro Tour features 80 of the best professional anglers in the world competing head-to-head in a fast-paced, catch, weigh, and immediately release format. The previously announced 2020 schedule includes:

StageDateLakeCityCommunity Host
OneFeb. 7-12Lake EufaulaEufaula, Ala.Eufaula Barbour Chamber of Commerce
TwoFeb. 21-26Lake OkeechobeeOkeechobee, Fla.Okeechobee County Tourism Development Council
ThreeMar. 13-18Lake ForkEmory, TexasLake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce
FourApr. 3-8Jordan Lake, Falls Lake, and Shearon Harris ReservoirRaleigh, N.C.Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance
FiveApr. 24-29Grand Lake O’ The CherokeesGrove, Okla.City of Grove
Special EventMay 16-20Kissimmee ChainKissimmee, Fla.Experience Kissimmee
SixJun. 5-10Lake Winnebago, Lake Butte des Morts, and Green LakeNeenah, Wis.Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau
SevenJun. 26-Jul. 1St. Lawrence RiverOgdensburg, N.Y.St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ogdensburg
EightJul. 21-26Lake ChamplainBurlington, Vt.Experience Vermont

The Bass Pro Tour began in 2019 and features 80 of the best professional anglers in the world, including Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers, Aaron Martens, Mike Iaconelli, Jordan Lee, and Skeet Reese. Each stage includes six days of competition using the Major League Fishing, catch-weigh-and-immediately-release format.

Major League Fishing showcases each fishery through their award-winning, live and linear programming. Each Stage of the Bass Pro Tour is broadcast live on the Major League Fishing app, MyOutdoorTV (MOTV), and MajorLeagueFishing.com, totaling more than 325 hours of original programming. Fans can follow the fast-paced nature of the MLF format as it unfolds on the live leaderboard through “SCORETRACKER® updates.” Highlights from each Stage of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour will air on Discovery Network beginning in July 2020 and Sportsman Channel in early 2021. 

“MLF offers the strongest broadcast presence in the industry to fans and sponsors,” said Jim Wilburn, President and CEO of Major League Fishing. “And with these lakes planned for this coming Bass Pro Tour, we know 2020 will be our best year yet as we continue to capture a broad audience of both longtime fishing fans and those new to the sport, thanks to our fast-paced, fan-friendly format,”