JASPER, Texas (March 21, 2021) – Fishing in his first career Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour event, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, wasted no time in making an immediate impact. Shuffield boated nine scorable bass Sunday totaling 29 pounds, 12 ounces to jump out to the early lead in the Group A Qualifying Round at the Toro Stage 1 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Power-Pole . The six-day competition, which awards a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner, is being live-streamed online and filmed for television broadcast on the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Channel later this year.
Just 1-ounce behind Shuffield in second place on the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard is a red-hot Dustin Connell, of Clanton, Alabama, the reigning REDCREST champion who caught 10 bass totaling 29-11. Bass fishing superstar Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, sits in third place, just 2 pounds back of Shuffield with 10 bass weighing 27-12.
The 40 anglers in Group A will now enjoy a day off Monday, while the 40 anglers in Group B will begin their first day of competition. Group A resumes competition on Tuesday.
“I’m really excited about it,” Shuffield said when asked about leading after day one in his first Bass Pro Tour event. “I got on a little something today that I didn’t know was happening, but it’s a way that I really like to catch them. Everything that I’m catching is postspawn, and the way things are looking I think they’re just going to continue coming to me, more and more.”
Shuffield said that he caught all of his fish on two different baits Sunday – a Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep and a drop-shot rig.
“In practice I was catching 50 to 70 fish a day, but today I probably caught around 30,” Shuffield said. “I caught a lot of 1-12 to 1-15 (pound) fish, today. But, all in all, I’m satisfied. Of course, I’d like to have a 5-, 6- or 7-pound cushion over second – one ounce isn’t even really leading – but I’ll take it for my first day.”
Like Shuffield, most of the anglers near the top of the leaderboard were also throwing a jerkbait at certain points of the day, including Connell and VanDam.
“I caught a lot of fish on a jerkbait, today,” Connell said. “These fish are kind of staging up right now. It got pretty slow for me later in the day, so I was kind of bouncing around and practicing in the third period. I found a little zone that I like, so I’ve just been trying to expand on that a little bit.”
VanDam spent a lot of the day looking for schools of bass that were grouped up but didn’t have any luck, and spent the day picking off stragglers.
“I wasn’t really sure how it was going to happen, today, but it ended up being a solid day,” VanDam said. “I caught some good fish in practice, but I couldn’t find the big concentrations of them, and that’s the way it was today. One here, one there. I caught a few good ones and just mixed it up to keep myself in the hunt all day long.”
VanDam credited a Pro Blue-colored Strike King KVD jerkbait as being his key bait for most of the day, but he did also boat a few scorable bass with a gold-colored jerkbait as well.
“I’m just going to grind it out and fish the migration routes where these fish are coming into these big spawning basins – fishing points and ditches.”
The top 20 pros in Group A after Day 1 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir are:
1st: Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., nine bass, 29-12
2nd: Dustin Connell. Clanton, Ala., 10 bass, 29-11
3rd: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 10 bass, 27-12
4th: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 11 bass, 25-7
5th: Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., five bass, 23-9
6th: Jason Lambert, Michie, Tenn., six bass, 20-10
7th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 18-3
8th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., seven bass, 17-1
9th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., seven bass, 17-1
10th: Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., six bass, 16-8
11th: Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., four bass, 14-5
12th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., six bass, 14-2
13th: Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., five bass, 13-13
14th: Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 13-9
15th: Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., five bass, 13-6
16th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., four bass, 12-15
17th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 12-11
18th: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., five bass, 12-4
19th: Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., four bass, 12-0
20th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., four bass, 10-6
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 155 bass weighing 439 pounds caught by 36 pros on Sunday, which included one 9-pounder, one 8-pounder, one 7-pounder and four 6-pounders caught from Sam Rayburn.
Connell won Sunday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing in a 9-pound, 5-ounce largemouth on the jerkbait during Period 2. 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.
DAY 2 Arkansas Veteran Jumps out to Early Lead after Day 1 for Qualifying Group B with 10 Bass in First Period Flurry
JASPER, Texas (March 22, 2021) – For Major League Fishing (MLF) fans following the MLF Now!® live stream, it looked like pro Mark Davis was having a very tough day on the water. Mid-way through the second period, the Mount Ida, Arkansas, veteran had yet to weigh a single fish and he remained at the bottom of the leaderboard without a scorable bass. Then, all of a sudden, Davis returned to an area that had cellular service and the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard lit up.
In actuality, Davis had a fantastic morning, boating 10 bass in the first period and jumping out to a big lead on day 1 of Qualifying Group B at the Toro Stage One at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Power-Pole. It just happened to be in an area that did not have cellular coverage, and therefore his SCORETRACKER updates were unable to send. When all was said and done, Davis caught a total of 12 bass weighing 28 pounds, 2 ounces, Monday to gain the early lead after Group B’s day 1, midway through their two-day Qualifying Round.
Pro Gerald Spohrer of Gonzales, Louisiana, sits comfortably in second place, just two pounds back of Davis with seven bass totaling 26-2. Brent Ehrler of Redlands, California, finished the day in third place with seven bass for 22-2, six pounds behind the leader. The six-day event awards a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner and is being live-streamed online and filmed for television broadcast on the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Channel later this year.
The 40 anglers in Group B will now enjoy an off day on Tuesday, while the 40 anglers in Qualifying Group A will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition. Group B will resume competition on Wednesday.
“I caught my fish this morning on a Strike King Red Eye Shad,” Davis said. “I had found this area in practice and I knew that the fish were there. I went in there this morning and started fishing shallow and there wasn’t much going on, then I saw a couple of them come up and bust, way out off of the bank.
“The trick was that I had to cast it out and let the bait sink, then kind of pump it,” Davis said. “It took a cadence with that lure to get them to bite. They wouldn’t just bite it on my cast and retrieve. You had to pump it, you had to work it out and kind of feel it around in the grass.”
Davis said that he threw the Red Eye Shad on a Lew’s KVD Composite Cranking rod paired with a Lew’s Hyper Mag reel, spooled with 15-pound test line.
“The fish were really biting it good – just swallowing it,” Davis said. “But, when it was over, it was done. I mean, it was done. I went to a Carolina rig and was able to catch a few more, but they were small. The shad were there and when the fish were ready to feed, they’ll feed. They’ll probably feed again later this afternoon.”
Spohrer did not have as fast of a start to the morning as Davis did, but his bite managed to be a bit more consistent throughout the entire day.
“The way my morning started, it wasn’t looking good,” the Louisiana pro said. “I had an area that I thought I was going to be my best spot where I’d get the most bites, and I didn’t get anything. I just kept my head down and kept fishing, swimming a jig all day and covering water. I figured out a little deal around the cypress trees, and it proved to be a good method for me.
“The fish are moving around, but I think I have a good feel for what they are doing and it should keep getting better and better for me. Hopefully I can get back out here on Wednesday and try to win the round to advance to Championship Friday,” Spohrer went on to say.
“It ended up being a brutal day for me,” said third-place angler Ehrler. “It started off really well – I felt like I was getting in a groove – then I went the entire second period without catching anything. Then with just an hour left in the third period I finally caught one more 3-pounder. So really, after the first period, I sucked pretty much all day. I’ve got some decisions to make here before Wednesday because I’m just really not comfortable. Hopefully I can change some things up and advance.”
The top 20 pros from Qualifying Group B after Day 1 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir are:
1st: Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 12 bass, 28-2
2nd: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., seven bass, 26-2
3rd: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., seven bass, 22-2
4th: Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., seven bass, 21-4
5th: Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., seven bass, 19-2
6th: Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., six bass, 18-10
7th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., six bass, 17-11
8th: Matt Becker, Finleyville, Pa., five bass, 17-1
9th: Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., seven bass, 16-10
10th: Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., six bass, 16-3
11th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., five bass, 15-8
12th: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, six bass, 15-5
13th: Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., three bass, 13-15
14th: Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, five bass, 13-8
15th: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 12-11
16th: Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 12-3
17th: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 11-10
18th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., four bass, 11-9
19th: Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., five bass, 11-8
20th: Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., five bass, 10-13
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 167 bass weighing 457 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 39 pros on Monday, which included two 7-pounders and six 5-pounders caught from Sam Rayburn.
Scroggins won Monday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing in a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth which bit on a bladed swimjig right at the end of Period 3. 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 Toro Stage 1 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Power-Pole is hosted by the Jasper County Development District and the Jasper/Lake Sam Rayburn Chamber of Commerce.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Sunday and Tuesday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Monday and Wednesday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Thursday’s Knockout Round, while the the winner of each group advances directly to Friday’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.