Major League Fishing is in town this week with its Bass Pro Tour, the top tier of their fishing tournaments.
The Bass Pro Tour operates a little differently from tournaments that have been here in the past. Half the field – 40 anglers – fished on Tuesday, with the other half of the field fishing on Tuesday. The tournament’s finalists fish today, with a big expo at Civitan Park for the public both afternoons this weekend.
The top angler Tuesday – a local from New Hope, -- caught 26 pounds. Then on Wednesday, a Tennessee angler caught 30. The Bass Pro Tour uses a catch, weigh and release format, so there’s not a formal “weigh in.”
MLF provided these reports of each day’s action:
For the second day in a row, the young talent on the Bass Pro Tour is shining bright. After rookie pro Jacob Wall of New Hope, Alabama, took the lead for Group A on Tuesday, fellow Bass Pro Tour rookie Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tennessee, followed suit on Wednesday.
Becker caught 15 scorable bass Wednesday, with his top five weighing 30 pounds, 9 ounces, to jump out to the early lead for Qualifying Group B at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Four at Lake Guntersville Presented by Bass Cat Boats. Becker will bring a comfortable 7-pound, 15-ounce advantage into Day 2 of competition on Friday over second-place angler Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, South Carolina, who weighed in five bass totaling 22-10 to end the day in second place.
The six-day event, hosted by Marshall County Tourism & Sports, 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 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
The 40 anglers in Group B will now have an off day on Thursday, while the 40 anglers competing in Group A will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition. Group B will conclude their Qualifying Round on Friday.
“That was the biggest bag of fish that I have ever caught in my life,” Becker said in his post-game interview. “I can’t believe that happened. That was just incredible. The Lord is so good, and he blessed me so much today. He put me to the test this morning – he really tested my patience. I could not get them to bite. I was looking at them on the graph and I could see them there, but they weren’t biting. Then I broke a couple of off… he was just testing me and putting me through it. And then he gave me a half hour towards the end of the day that was absolutely incredible.”
Becker said he struggled for the majority of the day before his exciting afternoon.
“I struggled pretty much all day,” he said. “I caught a limit in the first period for like 13 pounds, and then just very slowly upgraded. And then at 2:45 I caught a 6-pounder, and that’s when the magic started happening.
“I caught a 6-pounder and it got me to like 18 pounds, and then I decided I’m going to pull the trolling motor and go somewhere else. I ran down to this other spot, and it was mayhem for about 5 minutes. That got me up to 30 pounds, and it was absolutely incredible.”
Of the five fish that Becker scored Wednesday, three came on a crankbait and two came on a white hair jig.
“I had a ton of rods on my deck, and threw a bunch of different baits,” Becker said. “The key bait for me today, though, was the hair jig – a ledge staple and one of my favorite ways to catch them. It’s so much fun when they load up on the hair jig. I was throwing it on my Favorite Signature MDJ Hex rod – it’s a pretty big rod for big fish, 7-foot, 8-inch, heavy – with 15-pound Seaguar Invisx Fluorocarbon line and an 8.1:1 gear ratio reel.
“I’m very excited to have the lead, but I know that the work isn’t done,” Becker went on to say. “There is a lot of work left to do on Friday. Hopefully we can make the Knockout Round and go from there.”
The Top 10 standings for the 40 pros in Group B after Day 1 on Lake Guntersville were:
1st: Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., five bass, 30-9
2nd: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 22-10
3rd: Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, five bass, 22-6
4th: John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., five bass, 21-14
5th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 21-4
6th: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 20-15
7th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 20-15
8th: Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., five bass, 20-14
9th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 19-14
10th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., three bass, 19-6
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Bass Pro Tour Rookie Jacob Wall of New Hope, Alabama, boated 16 scorable bass Tuesday, with his best five weighing 26 pounds, 8 ounces, to take the early lead in Qualifying Group A on Day 1 of the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Four at Lake Guntersville Presented by Bass Cat Boats.
Wall will bring a 2-pound, 12-ounce, lead into Thursday’s second day of competition for Group A. In second place on the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard is Addison, Alabama pro Jesse Wiggins, who caught five bass weighing 23-12. New Jersey pro Adrian Avena sits in third place, 3 pounds, 5 ounces back of Wall with five bass weighing 23-3.
“What a great way to start the tournament. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to fish for Stage 4,” Wall said in his post-game interview. “Today was just a super fun day. I live about 25 minutes from where I’m sitting in the boat, and I had some of my best friends following me around this morning, and they got to witness me catch right up to 24¾ pounds, which was super cool. It was just one of those days where every decision that I made was the right one.”
Wall spent his morning targeting bass out deep with a Nichols Lures Magnum Spoon. In the afternoon he caught a couple of upgrades on a big glide bait.
“Those last 2 or 3 big ones I caught, I ran to a community hole – a spot that every local, and every pro in this tournament probably knows about it because it’s so obvious – and figured I would experiment with some baits and try some different stuff out,” Wall said. “I picked up a big swimbait and I couldn’t believe it. I caught a 5-something, and then an almost-5, and then another good one on it. And then I didn’t make another cast in there. I didn’t want to educate those fish any more than I already had with those three casts. I only made about five or six casts total with that swimbait and they acted like they had never seen it before.
“Those fish that I caught late this afternoon were 15 to 20 miles away from where I caught my fish this morning, so it was just one of those days,” Wall went on to say. “I’m looking forward to getting back out here in two days to hopefully catch enough to make the Knockout round, so then I can go out there and crush on them again and make the Championship Round. That’s ultimately the goal – to be fishing that final day and have a shot at the title this week on Lake Guntersville.”
The Top 10 standings for the 40 pros in Group A after Day 1 on Lake Guntersville are:
1st: Jacob Wall, New Hope, Ala., five bass, 26-8
2nd: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 23-12
3rd: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 23-3
4th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 21-7
5th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 21-0
6th: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, five bass, 19-12
7th: Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., five bass, 19-6
8th: Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, five bass, 19-5
9th: Timmy Horton, Muscle Shoals, Ala., five bass, 18-13
As part of the event, on Saturday, May 20, and Sunday, May 21, the MLF Fan Experience will be taking place at Civitan Park in Guntersville from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to celebrate fishing and the outdoors with concerts in the park, hosted by Explore Lake Guntersville, featuring JUICE on Saturday and Jackson Chase on Sunday. Food and drinks will be available from local food trucks and fans can check out the latest gear and offerings from MLF and MLF sponsors including Toyota, Favorite Fishing, Kubota, U.S. Air Force, and The Fallen Outdoors. On Sunday, fans can hang out and watch the pros live on the MLF NOW! big screen during the MLF Watch Party. 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.
Television coverage of the Toro Stage Four at Lake Guntersville Presented by Bass Cat Boats will air as two, two-hour episodes starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 14 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.
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