MASSENA, N.Y. (June 25, 2021) – The old saying “records were made to be broken” certainly held true for anglers Friday at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley in Massena, New York, as nearly every major Bass Pro Tour record was shattered on an incredible day of fishing.
Academy Sports + Outdoors pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, grabbed the early lead in Group A, catching 47 bass totaling 165 pounds, 1 ounce – a new Bass Pro Tour record for the heaviest single-day weight. The six-day event, hosted by the Town of Massena and Fish Massena, 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.
The former record of 141-9 held by Justin Lucas was also broken by the second- and third-place anglers Friday – Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, Texas, caught 49 bass weighing 147-10 to end the day in second place on the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard, and California pro Brent Ehrler caught 43 bass totaling 141-12, good for third.
Overall, there were 918 bass weighing 2,894 pounds, 8 ounces caught by the 40 pros on Friday –a new Bass Pro Tour record for the heaviest total weight caught in a single day of competition.
The 40 anglers in Group A will now enjoy a well-deserved day off on Saturday, while the 40 anglers in Group B will begin their first day of competition. Group A resumes competition on Sunday.
“Goodness, gracious, what a day of fishing. I can’t even express how unbelievable today was. My knees hurt, my back hurts, I feel like an old guy,” joked the 31-year-old Wheeler. “But the guys right behind me are dang good, and I know that I’m going to have to do that every single day I’m out here. I’m looking forward to getting back out on Sunday, but I’m also glad we get to chill and take a break tomorrow.”
Wheeler’s record-breaking day came down to just a couple of different baits.
“I caught a lot of fish on a pink Ned Bait, and a lot on a (Googan Baits) Blue Penny (Rattlin’ Ned Bait) on a Ned rig,” Wheeler said. “That was pretty much the deal for me, just switching it up between the Rattlin’ Ned and a couple of other different Ned baits. It was pretty typical smallmouth fishing, just not a typical day.”
Second-place angler Alton Jones Jr. relied on a drop-shot rig.
“That was such a fun day that I will never forget,” Jones said. “I caught 147 pounds and finished the day in second. I don’t even know what to say. Good job to Wheeler. But there is always another day, and I’ll be ready.
“I caught all of my fish on a drop-shot today,” Jones continued. “I used two different baits – the 3.8-inch Gee Crack Bellows Stick and a Gee Crack Revival Shad. I ran waypoint to waypoint and literally relied on my Garmin units. Every single place that I stopped today I had a fish marked on the bed. Some of them were gone, but a lot of them weren’t.”
Like Jones, third-place pro Brent Ehrler did the majority of his damage on a drop-shot rig, but he also added a few fish on a Ned rig.
“I knew the fishing was going to be pretty good, but man, they absolutely caught them today,” Ehrler said. “I caught them on a drop-shot rig, with the bulk of my damage coming on a rod that I designed for Daiwa – the Tatula Elite drop-shot rod – with a Tatula LT reel. I used a Roboworm with an Ark Tungsten weight, 12-pound Sunline Xplasma braided line to an 8-pound Sunline FC Sniper fluorocarbon leader. That’s really standard for me on all spinning outfits and I caught the bulk of them today on that.
“I also caught a few on a Ned rig using the same setup, just with a BOSS Ned head and a Roboworm NED Worm and that was it. I found some good fish in practice and just went back and fished those areas and it paid off today.”
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The top 20 pros in Group A after Day 1 on the St. Lawrence River are:
1st: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 47 bass, 165-1
2nd: Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 49 bass, 147-10
3rd: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 43 bass, 141-12
4th: Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., 41 bass, 135-3
5th: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 45 bass, 132-9
6th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 36 bass, 125-8
7th: Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, 40 bass, 121-11
8th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 37 bass, 115-12
9th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 34 bass, 115-0
10th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 29 bass, 94-4
11th: Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 30 bass, 86-6
12th: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 26 bass, 85-2
13th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 25 bass, 84-4
14th: Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 28 bass, 81-12
15th: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 23 bass, 78-7
16th: Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., 21 bass, 72-11
17th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 25 bass, 70-15
18th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 22 bass, 67-3
19th: Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 22 bass, 66-11
20th: Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., 23 bass, 66-10
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Lucas won Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing in a 6-pound, 13-ounce smallmouth bass on a Ned rig during Period 2. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler who 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 General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley is hosted by the Town of Massena and Fish Massena.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on the St. Lawrence River on Friday and Sunday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Saturday and Monday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round, while 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 the top prize of $100,000.
Anglers will take off from the Massena Intake Boat Launch Ramp, located on Route 13, in Massena, at 9 a.m. ET each day of competition. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will also be held at the Launch Ramp, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all takeoff and takeout ceremonies and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
As part of the event fans will also be treated to multiple community events throughout the week, hosted by Fish Massena. A Kid’s Fishing Derby with local area youth fishing alongside Bass Pro Tour anglers will take place on Saturday, June 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Fobare’s Pond (Sandy Beach) on Coles Creek Road in Massena.
On Sunday, June 27, the Town of Massena will join the anglers at the Massena Intake Ramp for Fishin’ Church, hosted by Bass Pro Tour anglers Mark Rose and Edwin Evers along with Judy Van Kennan, Chaplain for the Massena Fire Department. A free breakfast will be provided. Also on Sunday, Louisville, New York, will host a VIP Golf Course Event featuring multiple Bass Pro Tour anglers from noon to 3 p.m. at The River Course at Louisville Landing. All activities are free and open to the public. For more information on the Stage Five Community Events hosted by Fish Massena, visit 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 9:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the General Tire Stage Five Presented by Berkley at the St. Lawrence River will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Oct. 23 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.