Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Lee Leads Wire-to-Wire to Win MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters 2024 Presented by Bass Pro Shops on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes


Alabama pro earns third MLF Bass Pro Tour win on fishery and earns $100,000 top prize, Kevin VanDam catches 7-12 largemouth to win $100,000 Big Bass award

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (May 23, 2024) – The first time Abu Garcia pro Jordan Lee of Cullman, Alabama, ever tasted tournament victory, competing on Lake Guntersville at age 17, he earned the win throwing a topwater frog. Ever since, he’s continued to hone his skills with his favorite technique, waiting for a chance to show them off on the national stage.

When he finally got the chance at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, Lee made sure to take advantage.

Lee caught each of his seven scorable bass during Thursday’s Championship Round and nearly all his weight throughout the event walking a Berkley Swamp Lord over matted hydrilla on Lake Toho. His 27-pound, 14-ounce final-day total proved just enough to clinch a second Heavy Hitters championship belt.

Link to Photo Gallery of Championship Round Highlights
Link to Video of Fish-Catch Highlights from Championship Round of Heavy Hitters on the Kissimmee Chain

Lee entered this week as the clear favorite thanks to his two prior wins on the Kissimmee Chain in Bass Pro Tour competition, including the inaugural Heavy Hitters event in June 2020. And for much of the event, he made it look easy. He led Group B through both days of qualifying, stacking more than 60 pounds on SCORETRACKER® during a Day 1 he called “insane,” then won the Knockout Round.

Come Championship Thursday, though, his fish proved far less cooperative. Whether due to five days of fishing pressure, the variable minimum weight increasing to 3 pounds or the calm, blue-sky conditions that greeted the Top 10, the entire field had to grind for bites, Lee included. It took him two hours to book his first scorable bass.

But, leaning on the hundreds of hours he’s spent frogging mats on Guntersville through the years, the Alabama native eventually figured out which tricks to try to generate just enough bites. He crawled his frog painfully slowly, especially when he knew he was around active fish. He also doctored one frog, removing the silicone strand legs and replacing them with super-glued jig rattles, saying the added noise helps attract bass through the thicker slop.

Most important was knowing where to look amid a sea of hydrilla. Lee learned during practice that he could get more bites through bigger mats than small, matted clumps. From there, he covered water to identify which areas were better than others, using the extra practice time he earned during the Qualifying Round to expand his list of waypoints. That proved vital, as Lee said certain mats stopped producing during the course of the event due to fishing pressure and boat traffic.

“They had to be hollow underneath, … and where you had that kind of cheese,” Lee explained. “They weren’t way out on the outside where there was isolated clumps. I was looking for the bigger mats in areas where they just looked fresh almost, and I was looking for blowholes, where fish come up, blowing through the mat.

“It’s Guntersville 101. I do this every fall since I was 16, the exact fishing that I did this week. It was no different. The grass was the same, and it was just awesome because of how identical it fishes to there.” 

Lee used beefed-up tackle to throw his Swamp Lords, which he believes was key. He primarily wielded a Jordan Lee signature series 7-6 heavy rod from Abu Garcia — designed to be a flipping stick — instead of his usual, 7-3 frog rod. He also turned to a 7-9 punching rod in the thickest mats, spooling both with 50-pound Berkley X5 braid. The heavier rods gave him more power to winch bass out of the thick grass.

“I didn’t want to mess up the mats,” Lee said. “That’s kind of what I’ve learned about going in and getting them, you ruin a place, and then you’ve got to drag them out. You can catch a fish right there in the same hole that you’ve caught one before, and that happened a ton this week where you’d find them just packed in out of the same spot.”

Lee bounced from spot to spot Thursday morning before landing on a mat that produced a three-fish flurry in the final half four of Period 1, giving him the lead. He extended his advantage with two more scorable bass around noon.

Then, his bite went dormant. Lee went more than two hours without adding to his total. During that time, several anglers crept within one scorable bass of his lead, and Poche eventually passed him with a little more than 90 minutes left in the competition day.

Lee didn’t panic, though. He returned to one of the mats he’d fished early in the morning. While he didn’t get any bites there initially, he’d noticed that it didn’t show signs of fishing pressure. The decision proved to be worth $100,000.

“I thought there was some fish around there,” Lee said. “I had some bites throughout the week right there. But I just decided that was really my only other place I thought wasn’t getting a lot of fishing pressure.”

While Lee lifting a trophy (or, in this case, a belt) has become a common sight at the highest level of tournament fishing, he’ll remember this win for how he pulled it off.

“I’m really just blown away how good it was to me this week, catching them one of my favorite ways, fishing this heavy hydrilla,” Lee said. “I grew up fishing like this. I was really comfortable when I found this bite. And it was just a special bite. It got tougher as the week went on, but I stayed patient, and man, it was just awesome.”

The top 10 pros at the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2024 Presented by Bass Pro Shops on the Kissimmee Chain finished:

1st:        Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., seven bass, 27-14, $110,000
2nd:       Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., five bass, 23-10, $25,000
3rd:       Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., five bass, 19-4, $20,000
4th:        Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., four bass, 18-14, $118,000
5th:        Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., three bass, 12-5, $20,000
6th:        Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., two bass, 8-7, $44,500
7th:        Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, two bass, 8-1, $13,500
8th:        Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., one bass, 7-0, $17,500
9th:        Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, two bass, 6-12, $11,000
10th:     Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, zero bass, 0-0, $8,000

Full results can be found at

Overall, there were 31 scorable bass weighing 132 pounds, 3 ounces caught by the final 10 pros in Thursday’s Championship Round. A bass had to weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable in the Championship Round.

The six-day General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes was hosted by Experience Kissimmee and showcased the top 30 pros that qualified via the Bass Pro Tour competing in a no-entry fee tournament for massive daily Big Bass Bonuses and a payout of $100,000 to the winner.

The 15 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 15 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After each two-day qualifying round was complete, the top eight anglers from both groups advanced to Wednesday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round weights were zeroed, and the remaining 16 anglers competed to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Thursday’s final-day Championship Round, weights were zeroed, and the highest one-day total won the top prize of $100,000.

Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2024 Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Aug. 10 and running each Saturday through Sept. 14 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.

Proud sponsors of General Tire Heavy Hitters 2024 Presented by Bass Pro Shops at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes include: Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Barbasol, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, BUBBA, Fishing Clash, General Tire, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak Fishing, NITRO, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, REDCON1, Star brite, Toyota, U.S. Air Force and YETI.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, XInstagram and  YouTube.

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