BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Martin’s record day seals wire-to-wire win at Bassmaster Open on Florida’s Lake Okeechobee

February 3, 2024


Bassmaster Elite Series pro Scott Martin’s no weatherman, but his spot-on prediction described a scenario that enabled him to sack up a 31-pound, 7-ounce limit Saturday and lock up a record-setting wire-to-wire victory at the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Okeechobee presented by SEVIIN.

Martin amassed a three-day winning total of 90-6.

“Whoo! I’ve had to hold it in all week,” said a clearly emotional Martin, who notched his first B.A.S.S. victory. “To win here in front of my mom, in this parking lot where my dad (nine-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year, Roland Martin) won (the 1991 Bassmaster Florida Invitational) it’s just a blessing.

“To have that come full circle and to stand on this stage in front of my family and friends is just so amazing. I’m beyond appreciative of the sport, beyond appreciative of B.A.S.S. This is just special.”

Taking the early lead with a Day 1 limit of 33-2 — the event’s largest — Martin added a second-round bag that went 25-13 and held on to the top spot. After the Day 2 weigh-in, the hometown favorite said he believed the week’s increasingly stable, warming trend could deliver the opportunity he needed to seal the deal.

With Championship Saturday bringing more calm, sunny conditions and slightly warmer water, Martin slammed the door shut with a Day 3 catch that included a pair of 9-pounders he caught about an hour apart.

“This was just an epic day,” Martin said during the Bassmaster LIVE broadcast. “It was a blessing. Thank you, Jesus.”

With his victory, Martin set the record for the all-time heaviest winning total in a three-day Bassmaster event. Former Elite Series pro Byron Velvick set the previous record in 2000 by catching 83-5 at California’s Clear Lake.

Also, Martin’s Day 1 limit broke the record for the heaviest one-day catch in a Bassmaster Open — a mark previously set by Whitney Stephens’ 32-12 at the 2019 Open on the Harris Chain of Lakes.

“I couldn’t have scripted this any better,” Martin said of his accomplishments. “I just wanted to win a tournament here in front of the hometown crowd at some point in my career. But the records — I had no idea. To win here in front of my mom and dad and to break records, it was just God’s perfect timing.”

Martin edged Tucker Smith of Birmingham, Ala., by a margin of 22-11 and collected the top prize of $50,360. He also qualified for the 2025 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors, assuming he fishes the final two Opens in Division 1.

Martin spent his week in the Harney Pond area on the lake’s west side. Fishing in 3 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet of water, he targeted the submerged remnants of cattail clumps.

“I was looking for these clumps on my Garmin Panoptix,” Martin said. “They were like brushpiles. I knew it was going to be a tough tournament, so I knew I had to fish as slow and methodically as I could.

“A lot of tournaments, you run around and you try to do this and that to try and keep your energy level up, but I was the opposite today. I was just covering water and fishing slow.”

While ChatterBaits produced some of his keepers the first two days, Martin caught all of his Championship Saturday fish on a Texas-rigged Googan Baits Bandito Bug and a straight-tail worm, along with a wacky-rigged Googan Baits Lunker Log stickworm.

“The key was keeping my bait clean,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of muck on the bottom, but I could feel when my bait came into a clean spot, so I would make repeated casts to that spot.”

Martin enhanced his plastics with Bait Pop, a scented paste with visibility-boosting glitter. Also, the additive gave his baits a more well-defined sonar signature, which helped him monitor the presentation and make any necessary adjustments.

Smith finished second with 68-11. Keeping himself in the hunt, he took second place on Day 1 with 27-6, remained there with a second-round total of 23-12 and concluded with a Day 3 effort of 17-9.

Smith did all of his work in the Rim Canal, where he worked a 7-mile stretch and caught fish in about 8 to 12 feet.

“I side-scanned a lot and found rocks at the mouths of canals and that’s where I caught my fish,” he said.

Smith caught his fish on a Bill Lewis Scope-Stik jerkbait and a Damiki rig comprising a 1/4-ounce Picasso jighead and a 3.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat swimbait.

“It seemed like it got tougher and tougher, so I had to fish harder and harder every single day,” Smith said.

Randall Tharp of Port St. Joe, Fla., finished third with 68-8. Tharp turned in daily weights of 22-5, 22-9 and 23-10.

Fishing the lake’s west side, Tharp sacked up all of his weight with his favorite reaction bait — a bladed jig.

“I really like to catch them punching here, but the lake just didn’t set up (for that),” Tharp said. “I figured the tournament was going to be caught winding and that’s what I did.

“I caught every fish on a 1/2-ounce gold ChatterBait JackHammer. The key to it, for me, was a new Zoom trailer called a Shimmer Shad. It looks like a golden shiner. They smoked that thing.”

Tharp won the $750 Big Bass award for the 10-3 he caught on Day 1.

The Division 1 season opener included 175 competitors who have committed to all nine Opens events in the Tackle Warehouse Elite Qualifiers division, which will award Bassmaster Elite Series invitations to the top nine finishers in Angler of the Year points standings.

The tournament was hosted by the City of Clewiston.

Major League Fishing - Bass Pro Tour/Cup Events

Spencer Shuffield Leads Top Ten to Championship Round at B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at Toledo Bend Presented by Power-Pole

MANY, La. (Feb. 3, 2024) – After hovering near the top of the leaderboard in the two-day Qualifying Round, pro Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, finished Day 5 of competition on top, catching 30 scorable bass weighing 101-14 to pace the Knockout Round and advance to the final day of competition at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at Toledo Bend Presented by Power-Pole.

The Arkansas pro took over the lead mid-day, rising to the top of a stacked field going into Sunday’s Championship Round. In addition to Shuffield, a star-studded field of pros will compete in the final day of competition, including REDCREST 2021 Champion Dustin Connell of Clanton, Arkansas, two-time Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) winner Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, reigning Fishing Clash AOY Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tennessee, along with three Bass Pro Tour rookies, Drew Gill of Mount Carmel, Illinois, local favorite Justin Cooper of Zwolle, Louisiana, and Martin Villa of Charlottesville, Virginia.

The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition resumes Sunday morning with the Championship Round. In the Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Shuffield joined an exclusive club of Bass Pro Tour anglers by stacking more than 100 pounds of bass on SCORETRACKER® in a single day. A handful of anglers have put up 100-pound days during the first six Bass Pro Tour seasons, but Shuffield is the first to do so with all largemouth. Perhaps even more impressive than hitting the century mark is that he did so while keeping some fish in reserve for Sunday’s Championship Round. While weights will zero when the Top 10 anglers return to the water, Shuffield is optimistic that he can put up even bigger numbers and claim his first career BPT win.

“Tomorrow it’s all going to get left out there on the table, so I’m looking forward to it,” Shuffield said. “I haven’t been able to truly lean on these fish yet this week. Tomorrow, we get to – and, man, it would be sweet to break 200 pounds, because it’s definitely possible.”

Shuffield finished the Knockout Round 21-14 ahead of second-place Connell, who racked up more than 45 pounds in the first period before switching to practice mode. Wheeler finished third with 72-12. Those three have looked to be the most in tune with Toledo Bend’s bass all week, but the race for the first trophy of the 2024 season will be wide open.

Shuffield said he’d never fished Toledo Bend prior to December, when he spent a few days on the massive reservoir to pre-practice for Stage One. Ever since that visit, he’s had his sights set on taking home the first trophy of the year.

One of the best on tour at using forward-facing sonar to target suspended fish, Shuffield figured Toledo Bend’s shad-hungry bass would set up to his liking. A successful practice only bolstered his confidence.

While Shuffield racked up more than 130 pounds across the two-day Qualifying Round, easily earning a spot in the Knockout Round, he emerged a bit disappointed. Saturday was more like the success he experienced during practice.

“I kind of lost contact with these bigger fish after practice for some reason,” Shuffield explained. “I had ‘em dialed in really good in practice, and then got out here first day of the tournament; they had really changed on me. The water went from 48 to 52 (degrees), and it was warming up a lot this morning and they had moved again, back out to kind of where they were in practice. I think a lot of that had to do with cloud cover, and the water was back to 50 degrees this morning.”

Like just about everyone else in the Top 10, Shuffield has caught the majority of his fish this week with a soft-plastic minnow affixed to a jighead. The key, he said, has been locating groups of bigger-than-average bass. He certainly found them Saturday, boating 10 fish of 4 pounds or bigger.

“It’s the type of bait that I’m looking for,” Shuffield said. “It’s all threadfin shad, of course, but when you find the bait set up correctly on the right type of area and place, you find the bigger quality fish.”

The scariest part for the rest of the field: Shuffield didn’t even visit his most promising spots during the Knockout Round. He ran all new water, adding a few more areas to his arsenal that he could turn to on Sunday. He also thinks he’ll have his fish to himself, saying he didn’t see another competitor all day.

“I said coming into the day that if I could make it to tomorrow without fishing through my best stuff, then I felt like I could win,” Shuffield said. “Today was brand new water, every bit of it.”

With the forecast calling for lighter winds during the Championship Round and the likes of Connell and Wheeler sure to keep the pedal to the metal all day, prepare for fireworks. While he brought up the possibility of hitting the 200-pound mark, Shuffield realistically thinks it will take about 120 pounds to claim the $100,000 first place prize.

“I’ve got four, five, six areas that really, really got ‘em, so I’m really excited about tomorrow, getting to come out here — it’s going to be no wind — so I’m looking forward to putting the pedal to the gas,” Shuffield said.

The top 10 pros from Saturday’s Knockout Round that now advance to Sunday’s Championship Round on Toledo Bend are:

1st:          Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 30 bass, 101-14
2nd:        Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 30 bass, 80-1
3rd:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 22 bass, 72-12
4th:         Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 20 bass, 65-13
5th:         Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 18 bass, 60-13
6th:         Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 18 bass, 55-12
7th:         Justin Cooper, Zwolle, La., 20 bass, 52-7
8th:         Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 17 bass, 50-13
9th:         Martin Villa, Charlottesville, Va., 14 bass, 43-0
10th:       Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 14 bass, 38-15

Finishing in 11th through 20th place are:

11th:      Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 14 bass, 38-7
12th:      Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 14 bass, 37-12
13th:      Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, 14 bass, 36-11
14th:      Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 10 bass, 32-1
15th:      Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., six bass, 23-2
16th:      Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., eight bass, 22-12
17th:      Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., six bass, 17-10
18th:      James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., six bass, 14-0
19th:      Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 11-9
20th:      Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., four bass, 9-4

A complete list of results can be found at

Overall, there were 289 scorable bass weighing 865 pounds, 8 ounces caught by the 20 pros Saturday, which included one 8-pounder, one 7-pounder, 10 5-pounders and 27 4-pounders.

Mark Daniels, Jr., of Tuskegee, Alabama, caught an 8-pound, 15-ounce largemouth on a jerkbait in the first period to claim Saturday’s Berkley Big Bass Award. 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 tournament, hosted by Toledo Bend Lake Country and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of $659,000, including a top payout of $100,000, and valuable Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2025, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day Qualifying Round on Tuesday and Thursday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. After the two-day Qualifying Rounds were complete, the anglers that finished first through 10th from both groups advanced to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights were zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers competed to finish in the top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. Tomorrow, in the final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

The final 10 anglers competing in Sunday’s Championship Round will launch at 7:30 a.m. CT from Cypress Bend Park, located at 3462 Cypress Bend Drive in Many. The General Tire Takeout will be held at the park, 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 SCORETRACKER® leaderboard and event coverage at .

The MLFNOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on Championship Sunday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLFNOW!®  will be live streamed on and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

On Sunday, Feb. 4, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF invites fans of all ages to visit Cypress Bend Park for the MLF Watch Party and Trophy Celebration. Fans can watch the action from the water live on the MLFNOW! big screen, enjoy free food, enter to win hourly giveaways and cheer on their favorite pros. The first 50 kids 14 and under will receive a free rod and reel from Pure Fishing. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration on Championship Sunday to meet and greet fans, sign autographs and take selfies.

Television coverage of the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at Toledo Bend Presented by Power-Pole Knockout Round will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, July 20 on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering on July 27. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

The B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at Toledo Bend Presented by Power-Pole features the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers catch as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. The tournament features anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. The MLF Fisheries Management Division determines minimum weights for each body of water that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

The 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, for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2025 championship.

Bass Pro Tour anglers will also compete throughout the 2024 season for the prestigious Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) award and its $100,000 payday. Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide – is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, BUBBA, Epic Baits, Garmin, General Tire, Humminbird, Lowrance, Mercury, MillerTech, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak Fishing, NITRO, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Rapala, StarBrite, Suzuki, Toyota and U.S. Air Force.