Arizona Pro Weighs 27 Bass Totaling 86 Pounds, 13 Ounces to Lead Early for Group A – Group B to Start Competition Sunday
ONAMIA, Minn. (Sept. 10, 2022) – Berkley pro Josh Bertrand of Queen Creek, Arizona, caught 27 scorable smallmouth bass weighing 86 pounds, 13 ounces, to grab the early lead after Day 1 of the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Bally Bet Stage Seven at Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota. Right behind Bertrand in second place is Hot Springs, Arkansas’ Stephen Browning, who caught 20 scorable bass weighing 84-13. The duo traded the lead back and forth multiple times throughout the third period, with Bertrand ending on top by the narrow 2-pound margin as time expired.
It’s seems to be a two-horse race in Group A, as Bertrand and Browning have a substantial 30-pound lead on the rest of the field. Weights are fairly stacked up in the remainder of the top 10. Pro Matt Lee of Cullman, Alabama, ended the day in third place with 15 bass totaling 53-11. Ardmore, Oklahoma’s Jeff Kriet caught 13 bass weighing 50-5 to end the day in fourth, while Berkley pro Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama , rounds out the top five with 15 bass weighing 46-11.
The 40 anglers in Group A will now have an off day from competition on Sunday, while the 40 anglers competing in Group B will begin their first day of competition. Group A will resume competition on Monday.
“It was a great first day – I caught a bunch of fish, and a lot of really good quality ones,” Bertrand said. “I caught them multiple different ways. This morning I caught them cranking and throwing a Carolina rig – they were really biting the reaction baits early. Then this afternoon it slicked off and I ended up catching them on a drop-shot rig, using a Berkley (PowerBait) MaxScent Hit Worm.
“The forecast is calling for really calm conditions for the next few days, but it’s supposed to get nasty again in our Knockout Round on Wednesday. So, I’m really going to try hard to win this Qualifying Round and advance straight to Championship Thursday – I do not want to be out here when it’s nasty,” Bertrand went on to say. “We’ve got a lot of fishing still ahead of us, but I’m thankful to be off to a really good start.”
The top 20 pros in Group A after Day 1 on Mille Lacs Lake are:
1st: Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., 27 bass, 86-13
2nd: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 20 bass, 84-13
3rd: Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., 15 bass, 53-11
4th: Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., 13 bass, 50-5
5th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 15 bass, 46-11
6th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 13 bass, 43-14
7th: Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 12 bass, 43-14
8th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 14 bass, 42-12
9th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 11 bass, 41-9
10th: Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., 11 bass, 41-2
11th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 11 bass, 38-8
12th: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 11 bass, 37-10
13th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 10 bass, 34-7
14th: Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., nine bass, 34-6
15th: Mike McClelland, Blue Eye, Mo., nine bass, 34-1
16th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 10 bass, 33-10
17th: Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., 16 bass, 33-6
18th: Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 10 bass, 32-4
19th: Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., 11 bass, 31-11
20th: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, eight bass, 31-5
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 396 scorable bass weighing 1,339 pounds, 2 ounces caught by the 40 pros Saturday.
Browning caught the biggest fish of the day, a chunky 5-pound, 8-ounce smallmouth bass during Period 1 to earn the first $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award of the event. 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.
Texas Pro Catches 25 Scorable Smallmouth Weighing 92 Pounds, 13 Ounces to Lead Group B Qualifying Round By 27 Pounds after Day 1, Group A to Wrap Up Their Qualifying Round Monday
ONAMIA, Minn. (Sept. 11, 2022) – Although widely regarded as a shallow-water, sight-fishing expert, Texas pro Alton Jones, Sr., demonstrated Sunday that he also knows a thing or two about catching northern smallmouth as well. The Lorena, Texas, pro caught 25 scorable smallmouth bass Sunday weighing 92 pounds, 13 ounces, to pace the field by 27 pounds after Day 1 for Group B at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Bally Bet Stage Seven at Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota.
Jones will bring a comfortable lead over second-place, Googan Baits pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, into Tuesday’s second day of competition in the Qualifying Round for Group B. Connell landed 17 scoreable bass – all smallmouth – weighing 65-13, while Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) leader pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, rounds out the top three with 17 scorable bass weighing 58-13 to end the day in third place.
The 40 anglers in Group B will now have a day off on Monday, while the 40 anglers from Group A will wrap up their two-day Qualifying Round. Group B will finish their Qualifying Round on Tuesday.
“It’s humbling when you have a day like this,” Jones said in his post-game interview. “It was a great day – better than the other 39 guys today, and better than everyone that was on the water yesterday, too. So, I’m very pleased, and very thankful.
“I had a good practice, but that doesn’t always translate into a good tournament. This week it has, so far,” Jones continued. “I was able to move around to a lot of different places today and get bit, so I’m feeling really good with how my day went.”
With a 27-pound lead heading into the second day of Qualifying Round competition, Jones is already eyeing the automatic qualification to the Championship Round.
“I think I’ve got a strong enough lead that I can really try to go for it and win the round on Tuesday,” Jones went on to say. “The negative part is that if you go for it and someone passes you and you don’t win the round, you end up burning a lot of fish that you’ll need in the Knockout Round. We’ll see. If someone catches up real quick Tuesday and passes me and I’m struggling, I’ll back off and just start practicing. There is so much strategy that goes into this game. We’ll see how it goes.”
The top 20 pros in Group B after Day 1 on Mille Lacs Lake are:
1st: Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 25 bass, 92-13
2nd: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 17 bass, 65-13
3rd: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 17 bass, 58-13
4th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 16 bass, 57-4
5th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 15 bass, 53-4
6th: Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., 14 bass, 52-2
7th: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 15 bass, 47-13
8th: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., 14 bass, 46-11
9th: Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., 16 bass, 46-7
10th: James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 13 bass, 45-11
11th: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 13 bass, 43-6
12th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 12 bass, 42-12
13th: Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 14 bass, 42-7
14th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 11 bass, 41-3
15th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 12 bass, 39-12
16th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 12 bass, 39-8
17th: Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., 12 bass, 35-5
18th: Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 11 bass, 33-15
19th: Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., 11 bass, 33-8
20th: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 10 bass, 32-13
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 382 scorable bass weighing 1,291 pounds, 14 ounces caught by 39 pros Sunday. Pro Keith Poche of Pike Road, Alabama, did not compete due to illness.
Pros Cliff Pace and Gerald Spohrer tied for Sunday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award for the largest bass of the day – each caught a smallmouth weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces. Pace caught his 5-10 on a Ned rig during Period 1, while Spohrer’s 5-10 came on a medium-diving crankbait, also during Period 1. 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 Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, showcases 80 of the best professional anglers in the world competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 to the winner. The tournament is livestreamed each day at MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MOTV app, and also filmed for television broadcast later this fall on the Discovery Channel.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Thursday’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 launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT from Eddy’s Resort, located at 41334 Shakopee Lake Road in Onamia. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Resort, 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 MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
On Championship Thursday, Sept. 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will host a Celebration Event for fans of all ages, inviting fans to come out and celebrate with the professional anglers from the Bass Pro Tour as they crown the champion of the Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota. The first 50 youth anglers 10 and under in attendance will receive a free Pure Fishing Shakespeare Kid’s Rod and Reel combo. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
The Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota features anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters 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, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST IV, the Bass Pro Tour championship, which will be held next March on Lake Norman in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota will premiere as a two-hour episode at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Nov. 19 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of tournament competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Covercraft, Favorite Fishing, Garmin, General Tire, Googan Baits, Grundéns, Guaranteed Rate, Humminbird, Lowrance, Luminox, Mercury, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak, Nitro Performance Boats, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop, Rapala, Starbrite, Toro, Toyota, Wrangler, Yellowstone Bourbon and Zoom.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.