BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Pat Schlapper captures kicker bass to take Day 2 lead in Bassmaster Elite Series event at Toledo Bend

February 23, 2024

MANY, La. —

With the help of an 8-6 largemouth, Pat Schlapper caught 28 pounds, 5 ounces on Day 2 of the Gamakatsu Bassmaster Elite at Toledo Bend to jump into the lead with a two-day total of 55-9.

The pro from Eleva, Wis., holds a 3-ounce advantage over Day 1 leader Kyoya Fujita, who is second with a two-day mark of 55-6. Tennessee’s Robert Gee is third with 51-10.

“There were some really fun moments today,” Schlapper said. “It was tougher than yesterday, honestly. I didn’t get that many bites, and the bass are either leaving or getting picked off. I still had three really good bites.”

After finding a rhythm late in the day Thursday, the three-time Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Classic presented by Jockey Outdoors qualifier returned to one of his most productive areas and targeted roaming bass in 15 to 30 feet of water. He used the same bait he caught the majority of his bass on yesterday with the help of his Garmin LiveScope.

Despite the increase in boat pressure in the area, Schlapper immediately started catching bass and filled out his limit around 9:30 a.m. before landing his biggest bass of the day.

“I saw the bass on LiveScope, but it looked too big. I made a good cast and it came up on it, bit it and I missed it,” Schlapper said. “I cast up there again; the way it came up I thought it was a bass. Then, the way it fought, I knew it was a bass. I was lucky I (that) missed it the first time and then (it) ate it again. It was awesome.”

Late in the day, he returned to that same area and caught another kicker bass, a largemouth that weighed just under 8 pounds.

“I had a good bag fairly early, but then it was a long time before I caught anything else,” he said. “I came back at the end of the day when everyone was gone and caught another that was almost 8.”

Schlapper, however, is a bit concerned about how the rest of the tournament will play out in his primary area. With the weekend starting, boat pressure will likely only increase. He has also noticed the water temperature rising, which could mean the bass will move toward the bank and away from his area.

“There aren’t many bass left there. There were a lot of spectators and other competitors really messing with them,” he said. “If another wave kind of moves through, we might be alright. If not, it might be tough. There’s a chance I can throw (it) in front of five big ones tomorrow. I think there is less of a chance than there was today and the day before.

“But I’m sticking with it.”

After landing the Rapala CrushCity Monster Bag of the Tournament on Day 1 at 31-3, Fujita landed 24-3 to drop into second place. The Japanese pro returned to his primary spot from Day 1 and, while he filled out a limit in the first three hours, he struggled to generate big bites until the afternoon. His biggest bass, logged as a 6-0 on BassTrakk, came after 1 p.m. He caught all of his bass on a Jackall Drift Fry around standing timber in 30 feet of water.

Boat pressure was the main reason for the tougher bite, he said.

“Yesterday in the morning, it was fish, fish, fish, and then in the afternoon, there was fishing pressure and no bites,” Fujita said with the help of a translator. “Today was tough.”

Despite the increased pressure, Fujita still saw plenty of bass on his LiveScope. He plans on returning to the same area in the morning and will evaluate how many other boats are around. If he isn’t liking what he sees, he will move to a different spot on the lake.

Gee added 22-10 to his 29-0 Day 1 bag to increase his two-day total to 51-10. While he lost a 4-pounder early in the day, the Knoxville, Tenn., rookie filled a limit quickly but struggled to find quality.

“I started where I could get a limit early,” he said. “It seemed like the bigger ones were leaving. I didn’t catch any really big ones, and everywhere I went it seemed like fish were leaving me. I feel like they are making a push up shallow with this full moon coming tomorrow night.”

Late in the day, Gee moved to his big-bass spot from yesterday and caught his two biggest of the day.

“I understood what I was doing wrong, so I went in closer to where the bass wanted to be going,” Gee said. “I was still in a basin, so I was in 35 feet of water instead of 50 feet.”

So far this week, Gee has caught the majority of his bass on a Crock-O-Gator Slide Shad and has changed the jighead size based on the depth he’s fishing and the wind speed. Forward-facing sonar has played a big role in his success.

With the bass leaving his areas, Gee feels like he will need to start making a move to the shallows. He didn’t have much success fishing shallow in practice, but he has an idea where his deep bass may move to in the coming days. 

“I’m just going to have to adjust and fish new water,” he said.

Canadian pro Chris Johnston caught a 9-3 largemouth on Day 2 to claim the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day. South Carolina’s Bryan New currently holds the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Tournament, a 9-8 largemouth he caught on Day 1.

The Top 50 anglers will launch from Cypress Bend Park beginning at 7 a.m. CT and return for weigh-in at 3 p.m. The Top 10 will advance to Championship Sunday to compete for the blue trophy and $100,000 top prize. All anglers are earning points toward the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

Bassmaster LIVE will be available on FS1 on Saturday morning beginning at 8 a.m. ET through 11:30 a.m. before moving to for the afternoon session.

Those wanting to attend will be able to enjoy the “B.A.S.S. on the ’Bend” festival on Saturday and Sunday at Cypress Bend Park before weigh-in. The festival will feature live music and many local vendors.

The event is being hosted by Toledo Bend Lake Country and the Louisiana Office of Tourism.

BASSMASTER Elite Series/Opens

Bassmaster Elite Series event on Lake Fork should produce fireworks once again

February 23, 2024

YANTIS, Texas —

If Lee Livesay had a say in where Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments are held, there’s zero question which lake he’d pick first — and second, third and so on.

“I’m not gonna beat around the bush,” Livesay said. “I want to fish at Lake Fork any day, every day and any time of the year. I’ll take it over anyplace else. That’s never gonna change.”

Well, well, well.

As if Livesay drew up the schedule himself (note: he didn’t), the second stop of this year’s tour will be Feb. 29-March 3 with the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork, less than an hour from Livesay’s hometown of Longview, Texas. In all, 103 Elites are scheduled to compete in the derby, with a $100,000 first-place prize at stake and thousands more in cash prizes for top competitors, as well as all-important points in the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year race.

The field will include many of the world’s best bass anglers, including Livesay, the four-time B.A.S.S. winner who has, to put it mildly, feasted at Fork the past few times he’s competed here.

How dominant has the 38-year-old Texan been on his home water?

Consider this: Livesay cracked the ballyhooed Century Club in Elite Series tournaments here in 2021 and 2022, each resulting in runaway wins. He caught an incredible 112 pounds, 5 ounces over four days in 2021 (a full 10 pounds better than second-place finisher Patrick Walters) and came back a year later with a winning total of 113-11 (a full 11-9 better than the second-place angler for that derby, two-time Bassmaster Angler of the Year Brandon Palaniuk).

Though both were double-digit victories, competitors were pounding Fork as well, with six total Century Club performances across those two tournaments. The 2022 derby was especially productive, with each of the Top 10 anglers catching more than 90 pounds of bass over four days.

Livesay is confident he can three-peat at Lake Fork but knows any Elite finding a consistent big bite could hoist a blue trophy when the fishing is done.

“I know a lot about the lake, but there are going to be many guys who will find fish out there,” he said. “I think we could see huge weights again. It’s the right time frame. There will be fish in the timber, in the grass. You can fish deep or you can fish shallow. People will have their pick.”

Livesay wasn’t pointing to the wealth of possibilities to disguise his own game plan. Matter of fact, he hasn’t actually fished the lake since last spring.

“It was last May or June,” he said. “I drove around about a quarter of the lake recently, before it went off-limits, and it was full pool. We’ve had a lot of rain and I saw some things that make me believe we’ll have good fishing. I like to fish shallow and that’s probably my best chance there. But that could change.

“I really don’t want any preconceived notion of what to expect,” he continued. “It’s all affected by temperature, fishing pressure. Forward-facing sonar is a real factor now. I know what to look for, so I’ll show up, practice hard, look shallow, look deep and everywhere in between.’

Livesay said he had a “bad day” in both of his Elite Series wins on Lake Fork. The key for him, and likely every other competitor, is to be “open-minded.”

“Lake Fork is more of a mental game for me because a million variables go through my head,” he said. “When the schedule came out, I thought I might spend all winter there. But where the giants are in December and January is not where they’ll be in February. So, I just backed off. I know how to get around and I know what’s there. When we start, it’s just about reading the conditions and finding the bigger bites.

“I just have to get into a flow.”

The AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork will have a full field for Day 1 and Day 2. The group will be cut to the Top 50 for Day 3 and the Top 10 will compete for the tournament title on Championship Sunday.

Bassmaster LIVE will be streaming on all four days, and coverage will also be available on FS1 on Saturday and Sunday.

Wood County Texas is hosting.

Major League Fishing - Bass Pro Tour/Cup Events

Dean Rojas Paces Field to Win Group B Qualifying Round at Major League Fishing Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick at Santee Cooper Lakes

CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. (Feb. 23, 2024) – For the first two hours of Group B’s second day on the water Friday at Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick, pro Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, struggled to recapture his Day 1 success. Rojas had stacked 16 bass weighing 48 pounds, 14 ounces on SCORETRACKER® during his first day on the Santee Cooper lakes, but he went more than two hours Friday morning without boating a scorable fish.

Once Rojas relocated a population of fish, though, the action heated up in a hurry. He got on the board with a 5-pounder, then caught another 11 bass, bringing his two-day total to 76-1. He finished atop the leaderboard for Group B, a mere 10 ounces ahead of pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, California.

Rojas’ day summed up the action across lakes Marion and Moultrie. A morning that started slow ended with two bass over 9 pounds, and 20 over 6 pounds hitting the scales. Despite many of the top anglers using the afternoon to scout new water, the field combined to catch 249 scorable bass for 824 pounds, 14 ounces – easily the biggest totals of any day so far.

The remaining 20 anglers – the top 10 from each group – now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Sunday. In Sunday’s final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Having put plenty of distance between himself and the cut line on Wednesday, Rojas, too, used his second day of competition to explore new water on the massive 170,000-acre playing field that is Santee Cooper. He never returned to the area where he caught his Day 1 bag, instead scouting a few other spots where he’d gotten bit during practice.

“The stuff I fished today was just secondary stuff that I had,” he explained. “It’s not my main stuff. I caught ‘em really good the first day, so there was no sense in working on those fish anymore.”

Rojas is doing something a bit different than the majority of anglers, not spending much time around the fishery’s many cypress trees. He didn’t want to reveal much about his tactics but said he’s focusing on areas where bass are moving up to stage.

“There’s probably a few that are up there (spawning), and there’s some that are coming,” Rojas said. “It’s still the very first beginnings of it.”

While he found plenty of fish, Rojas didn’t catch the same quality on Friday, boating just one bass bigger than 3 pounds. As a result, he still plans to return to his Day 1 area during what figures to be an explosive Knockout Round.

Still, he sees the day as a success, having eliminated some water and added more to his arsenal should he have to veer from Plan A.

“I have lots of options,” he said. “I feel very comfortable. The stuff that I fished today I can fish again tomorrow, and the stuff that I didn’t fish today, I can still go back again tomorrow.”

As for what it will take to make the Championship Round, Rojas speculated that the cut will fall around 45 pounds – although he admitted that could be way off. Santee Cooper has proven fickle this week, with lots of anglers putting together impressive bags but few doing so on consecutive days. The only safe bet seems to be that whoever does unlock the bite will have a chance to land some big ones.

“I have no idea,” Rojas said. “I’m going to try and catch every single bass I can tomorrow.”

The top 10 pros in Group B that now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round on Santee Cooper Lakes are:

1st:        Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 28 bass, 76-1
2nd:       Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 21 bass, 75-7
3rd:       Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 21 bass, 75-2
4th:        Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 21 bass, 74-2
5th:        Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala, 18 bass, 65-1
6th:        Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 15 bass, 60-12
7th:        Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., 17 bass, 58-9
8th:        Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 13 bass, 55-11
9th:        David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 18 bass, 53-13
10th:     Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 14 bass, 51-2

Eliminated from competition are:

11th:     Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., 10 bass, 49-2
12th:     Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., 17 bass, 48-9
13th:     Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 14 bass, 48-4
14th:     Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 12 bass, 46-4
15th:     Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 19 bass, 45-5
16th:     Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 12 bass, 43-7
17th:     Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 14 bass, 43-2
18th:     Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 14 bass, 42-6
19th:     Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 14 bass, 38-10
20th:     Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 11 bass, 36-13
21st:      Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 12 bass, 36-4
22nd:    Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 10 bass, 36-3
23rd:     Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 14 bass, 36-2
24th:     Justin Cooper, Zwolle, La., 10 bass, 34-15
25th:     Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 10 bass, 32-9
26th:     Martin Villa, Charlottesville, Va., 13 bass, 32-2
27th:     Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, nine bass, 30-4
28th:     Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., eight bass, 28-3
29th:     James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., six bass, 21-10
30th:     Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., seven bass, 19-7
31st:      Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., six bass, 19-4
32nd:    Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., seven bass, 18-11
33rd:     Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., six bass, 18-0
34th:     Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., six bass, 17-11
35th:     Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, six bass, 15-5
36th:     Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, six bass, 14-9
37th:     Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La., five bass, 14-3
38th:     John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., four bass, 13-1
39th:     Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C, three bass, 12-13
40th:     Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., three bass, 7-13

A complete list of results can be found at

Overall, there were 249 bass weighing 824 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 39 pros Friday. The catch included 14 6-pounders, three 7-pounders, one 8-pounder and two 9-pounders.

Pro David Dudley of Lynchburg, Virginia, won the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award Friday with a fat 9-pound, 11-ounce largemouth that he caught on a Dudley’s Digger Blade from Treeshaker Tackle during Period 3. 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 the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, 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. Now that each group’s two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers that finished first through 10th from both groups advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. In the final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers will launch at 7:30 a.m. ET each day from the John C. Land III Landing, located at 4404 Greenall Road in Summerton. Each day’s 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 MLFNOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at .

The MLFNOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on the final four days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. MLFNOW!®  is live streamed on and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

On Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF welcomes fans of all ages to visit the John C. Land III landing for the MLF Watch Party. Fans can watch the pros 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 each day. 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.

The Suzuki Stage Two at Santee Cooper Lakes Presented by Fenwick 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 1-pound, 8-ounce 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 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.

Television coverage of the Suzuki Stage Two at Santee Cooper Lakes Presented by Fenwick will premiere as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Sept. 21 on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering the following Saturday on Sept. 28. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, BUBBA, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, 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.