Tennessee Rookie Tops Group B Qualifying Round, Field of 40 Set for Saturday’s Knockout Round
GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (May 19, 2023) – Bass Pro Tour rookie Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 4 ounces, to maintain his lead throughout the day and win the Qualifying Round for Group B Friday at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Four at Lake Guntersville Presented by Bass Cat Boats . Over two days, Becker caught 10 bass weighing 46 pounds, 13 ounces to earn the first Qualifying Round victory of his career and advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round.
Link to HD Video – Fish-Catch Highlights of Group B Qualifying Round Day 2 on Lake Guntersville
Link to Photo Gallery of Group B’s Day 2 Qualifying Round Afternoon Highlights
“I’m definitely happy to win the Qualifying Round, but I realize this is just the beginning,” Becker said in his post-game interview. “It’s going to be an absolute slugfest here this weekend, and it’s going to take some serious weight. Hopefully we’ve found enough, but I’m not sure. I’m not feeling too good about it after this afternoon – those guys behind me were catching some big fish.”
Although Becker didn’t come close to matching his 30-pound total from the first day of competition Friday, he also did not fish his best areas. He spent his day covering new water with a Carolina rig, trying to find more options for the weekend.
“I didn’t go to my best stuff today – there really was no reason for me to,” Becker said. “I was pretty much moving on to the Knockout Round no matter what, today, so I drove past some of it to look, but I didn’t go there.
“It’s probably going to be a boat race to the areas with a couple of guys tomorrow,” Becker continued. “It’s kind of a community hole, so we’re really going to have to lighten up the boat and get ready to race in the morning.”
Becker had no problem finding fish, but he struggled to get any bites until he switched to a bait that he doesn’t typically throw – a Carolina rig.
“Today, it was all about the Carolina rig, which if you know me you know that is not me at all,” Becker said. “That was the only thing that I could really get them to bite today. I used a ½-ounce Epic Tungsten Carolina-rig weight, tied to a swivel with a couple of beads, and then running that down to a Trokar TK100 5/0 standard worm hook. I’m throwing it on 15-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon line with a Favorite (Fishing) Hex 7-foot, 6-inch heavy rod.
“Just dragging that around today I was able to catch a couple of fish, which was cool, but I really don’t feel very confident going into the Championship Round,” Becker went on to say. “I kind of beat up the fish that I’d been fishing for, and these guys behind me are catching a lot of big ones. It’ll take some serious weight to move onto the Championship round, so I’m going to have to adjust and hopefully find some new ones tomorrow.”
Reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 43-7 to finish the round in second place, while Lynchburg, Virginia pro David Dudley ended the round in third place with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 42-12. Brent Ehrler of Redlands, California, caught 10 bass weighing 42-10 to land in fourth, while Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, will advance to the Knockout Round with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 41 pounds, 8 ounces to round out the top five.
The remaining 40 anglers – the top 20 from each group – now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Sunday. Weights will carry over from the Knockout Round into the Championship Round, which will feature the final 10 anglers competing for the heaviest two-day cumulative total and the top prize of $100,000.
The top 20 pros from Group A that now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round on Lake Guntersville are:
1st: Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 46-13
2nd: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 43-7
3rd: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 10 bass, 42-12
4th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 10 bass, 42-10
5th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 41-8
6th: Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 10 bass, 40-8
7th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 40-5
8th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 10 bass, 40-0
9th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 10 bass, 36-15
10th: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 36-13
11th: Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., 10 bass, 36-10
12th: Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., 10 bass, 36-2
13th: Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Ala., 10 bass, 35-5
14th: Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 35-4
15th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 10 bass, 34-14
16th: Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 10 bass, 34-0
17th: Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 33-15
18th: James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 10 bass, 33-14
19th: Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., 10 bass, 33-12
20th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 10 bass, 33-5
Eliminated from competition are:
21st: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 10 bass, 33-2
22nd: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 10 bass, 32-3
23rd: John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., nine bass, 32-1
24th: Alton Jones, Sr., Lorena, Texas, 10 bass, 31-13
25th: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 10 bass, 30-6
26th: Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 30-3
27th: Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 10 bass, 30-3
28th: Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., 10 bass, 29-4
29th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 29-3
30th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 28-3
31st: Mitch Crane, Columbus, Miss., 10 bass, 27-8
32nd: Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., eight bass, 26-12
33rd: Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., eight bass, 26-5
34th: Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., 10 bass, 25-7
35th: Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., 10 bass, 23-11
36th: John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., 10 bass, 22-15
37th: Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., eight bass, 21-14
38th: Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., nine bass, 21-14
39th: Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, seven bass, 16-1
40th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., four bass, 8-0
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 323 scorable bass weighing 943 pounds, 3 ounces caught by the 40 pros Friday, which included 15 5-pounders, one 6-pounder and two 7-pounders.
Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award was awarded to pro David Dudley, who weighed in a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth which bit his signature Perfection Lures Wacky Worm in Period 2. 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 event, hosted by Marshall County Tourism & Sports, showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters All-Star event and REDCREST 2024, 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 two-day qualifying round is complete, the top 20 anglers from each group advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Sunday’s final day Championship Round, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT each day from the Guntersville Civitan Park, located at 1130 Sunset Drive in Guntersville. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the launch locations, 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.
As part of the event, on Saturday, May 20 and Sunday, May 21 the MLF Fan Experience will be taking place at Civitan Park in Guntersville from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to celebrate fishing and the outdoors with concerts in the park, hosted by Explore Lake Guntersville, featuring JUICE on Saturday and Jackson Chase on Sunday. Food and drinks will be available from local food trucks and fans can check out the latest gear and offerings from MLF and MLF sponsors including Toyota, Favorite Fishing, Kubota, U.S. Air Force, and The Fallen Outdoors. On Sunday, fans can hang out and watch the pros live on the MLF NOW! big screen during the MLF Watch Party. 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 Toro Stage Four at Lake Guntersville Presented by Bass Cat Boats will feature pros competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, with each angler’s five (5) heaviest bass per day tallied as their day’s weight. Anglers strive to catch their heaviest five fish each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the live scoring SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. 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 2023 MLF 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, fishing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship, held March 13-17, 2024, on Lay Lake in Birmingham, Alabama.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live 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 Toro Stage Four at Lake Guntersville Presented by Bass Cat Boats will air as two, two-hour episodes starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 7 and Saturday, Oct. 14 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG + Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, TORO, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.
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.
Becker Wins Group B Qualifying Round at MLF Bass Pro TourToro Stage Four on Lake Guntersville
Tennessee Rookie Tops Group B Qualifying Round, Field of 40 Set for Saturday’s Knockout Round