LEESBURG, Fla. (May 24, 2021) – Berkley pro Bobby Lane of Lakeland, Florida, boated 14 bass weighing 34 pounds, 2 ounces to hold off a hard-charging Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tennessee, and win the two-day Qualifying Group B round at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Three Presented by Bass Cat Boats at the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Florida. After Lane started the day with a 24-pound lead, DeFoe’s massive rally had him within 8 pounds of Lane’s lead early in the second period, but Lane pulled away in the third and earned the victory with a two-day total of 39 bass weighing 102 pounds, 6 ounces.
The six-day tournament, hosted by Lake County, features 80 of the top professional anglers from around the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner.
DeFoe caught a two-day total of 35 bass weighing 78-2 to end the round in second place, while General Tire pro Skeet Rese of Auburn, California, finished the round in third place with a two-day total of 22 bass weighing 60 pounds even.
The remaining 38 anglers – 19 from Group A and 19 from Group B – will now compete Tuesday in the Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top eight to advance to Championship Wednesday. Wednesday’s Championship Round will feature Group A winner Brett Hite, Group B winner Bobby Lane, and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round competing in a final-day shootout for the top prize of $100,000.
“I really didn’t plan on fishing that hard today, but Ott DeFoe scared the living fire out of me,” Lane said in his post-game interview. “I had been planning to start practicing in the second round, but Ott was catching them so fast I knew it was only a matter of time before I was his next victim. We’re all competitors out here, though, and it doesn’t get much better than that. That was an awesome round.”
Lane said his key bait Monday was a black and blue-colored Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General Worm, fished with a ½-ounce Flat Out Tungsten Screw In weight on a 7-foot, 6-inch heavy Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier rod with an Abu Garcia REVO IKE casting reel spooled with 50-pound Spiderwire Ultracast Braid line.
“That bait really got it done for me today,” Lane said. “I missed a lot of fish, but I think a lot of them were small. But none of that matters anymore because we’re moving on to the Championship Round. There will only be 10 of us left on Wednesday, and I’m so excited because I get to keep a flipping stick in my hand all day long. Let’s see if this Florida boy can get it done on one of his favorite lakes.”
DeFoe, meanwhile, overcame every negative fishing superstition that you can think of on his whirlwind day.
“I ate a banana in my boat this morning, and on my very first cast I missed one on a swimjig,” DeFoe said. “So, not only did I have a banana, but I had a bite on my first cast. I did miss it, but after that it was on, quick. I caught a couple of scorable bass, then I caught a really nice one, and then it just kept rolling after that.
“The morning was really unbelievable and set the tone for the day,” DeFoe continued. “On Saturday I went to Lake Griffin, but today I stayed close and was able to use the 30-minute ride-around period to actually look around. I graphed and idled and looked at some different stuff, and by the time the 30 minutes was close to being up, I had idled a stretch that had Kissimmee Grass, a few docks, and some baitfish flipping. I just figured that looked as good as anywhere to start. It ended up being pretty special.”
DeFoe said that he caught some fish on a swimjig and a topwater bait, but his key lure was a Rapala OG Slim Crankbait in a new color – bream – set to debut at ICAST in July.
“That bait has some chartreuse and green and blue and some brown, with a white belly – it’s just an excellent dirty-water color, and that’s what we’ve got out there right now with the algae bloom,” DeFoe said.
“There is definitely some fish left there that I didn’t catch, and I’m definitely going to start there tomorrow,” DeFoe went on to say. “But, what was interesting, the area I started in and I fished down through there… eventually I ran into Andy Montgomery, who was catching them this morning. Then a little bit later, (James) Watson runs by and he was catching them today. And Alton Jones came by, and he caught them today. That area of the lake, there was a lot of fish caught today. So I hope it can produce again tomorrow.”
The top 20 pros from Qualifying Group B that now advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round on the Harris Chain of Lakes are:
1st: Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 39 bass, 102-6 – ADVANCES TO CHAMIONSHIP ROUND
2nd: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 35 bass, 78-2
3rd: Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 22 bass, 60-0
4th: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 21 bass, 59-10
5th: Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 24 bass, 57-10
6th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 25 bass, 57-4
7th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 23 bass, 57-3
8th: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 21 bass, 54-8
9th: Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., 18 bass, 48-3
10th: James Watson, Lampe, Mo., 19 bass, 47-10
11th: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 15 bass, 47-9
12th: Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 19 bass, 47-0
13th: Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 17 bass, 45-7
14th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 19 bass, 44-6
15th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 18 bass, 44-3
16th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 19 bass, 44-0
17th: Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 17 bass, 42-15
18th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 18 bass, 41-12
19th: John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., 17 bass, 40-6
20th: Timmy Horton, Muscle Shoals, Ala., 14 bass, 39-14
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 358 bass weighing 870 pounds, 4 ounces caught by the 40 pros on Monday.
Pro Aaron Martens of Leeds, Alabama, caught a 7-pound, 2-ounce largemouth on a creature craw in Period 2 to win Monday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler that weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.
The MLF Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Three at the Harris Chain Presented by Bass Cat Boats is hosted by Lake County.
The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Friday and Sunday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Saturday and Monday. With both groups two-day qualifying round now complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups now advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round, while the the winner of each group advances directly to Wednesday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed and the remaining 38 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins. Full breakdown of the format can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Anglers will take off from the Venetian Gardens Ski Beach Boat Ramp, located at 201 E. Lake Harris Drive, in Leesburg, at 6:30 a.m. ET each day of competition. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will also be held at the Gardens, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend, but encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 76 of the top professional anglers in the world – joined at each event by 4 pros that qualify from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit – competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2022 championship.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 6:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Three Presented by Bass Cat Boats at the Harris Chain of Lakes will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Sept. 25 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.