February 9, 2020 (Eufaula, Ala.) Bass Pro Tour Rookie Bryan Thrift won Qualifying Round Group A of the B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole to become the first automatic Championship Berth in MLF history. Alabama resident Greg Vinson rose 18 places to finish in second. Chris Lane, who held the lead in Group A for nearly five periods, fell to fifth overall with a two-day total of 38 pounds, two ounces. Overall the third day kept everyone guessing despite the sunny skies and warmer temperatures.
On a slightly tougher fishing day on Lake Eufaula, Bryan Thrift showed he could compete well in this new-to-him format with an impressive two-day total and commanding march into first over Chris Lane. Thrift took control of the top spot with the Berkley Big Bass of the Day, which weighed in at six pounds, three ounces, shortly after Period 3 began. In the last 80 minutes of the day, he added five more bass to his total including one at five pounds, five ounces. Thrift said his late-day success was a surprise.
“I did a lot better than I expected at the end,” Thrift admitted. “It started so slow, and I only had four fish between the first two periods.
“I’m not getting enough bites to have a pattern,” he added. “I’m running different stuff and throwing different baits; there’s no way I can know what is going to work.”
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Thrift earned the Phoenix Boats Daily Leader award for his ten bass weighing in at 34 pounds, six ounces. Perhaps most exciting, Thrift receives the benefit of a “Championship Berth,” which guarantees him a $12,000 minimum payday. New for 2020, the winners of each Group (A and B) automatically advance to the final, Championship Round, and do not need to fish the Knockout Round. The remaining 19 anglers from each Group (A and B) will fish Tuesday for one of the remaining eight spots in the Championship Round.
Alabama resident Greg Vinson rose steadily up the SCORETRACKER® from 20th place to second. His success stemmed from the fact that he caught more scoreable bass on the day with 12, including one just shy of five pounds at four pounds, 15 ounces. Vinson eluded to how stressful it can be for an angler to find himself mid-round on the “elimination line.” The elimination line refers to the top 20 places on SCORETRACKER® who advance and the bottom 20 who are eliminated from a Stage of the Bass Pro Tour.
“I came in as the ‘bubble boy,’ and I was sweating it,” Vinson said. “With the tough fishing conditions, you never know. I locked into something a little different today, and it was fun.”
Chris Lane finished day one of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole at the top of the SCORETRACKER® with 35-pounds, 12-ounces representing nine bass. However, day two proved to be a completely different ballgame. Lane caught one scorable bass in Period 1 and then remained scoreless the rest of the day. His lead coming into day two provided him a secure position in fifth place for the Qualifying Round, Group A.
The Top Ten of the Qualifying Round, Group A finished day two as follows:
|Place||Angler||Total 2-Day Weight||Total Day Two Weight||Largest Fish of Day Two|
For complete results, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com, Bass Pro Tour, Results.
Lane was not the only angler to experience a tough day on the water. Stephen Browning started the day in 11th but fell to 23rd, while Boyd Duckett slipped from 13th to 25th. Mark Daniels, Jr. began on the bubble with Vinson at 19th and fell to 24th. While Andy Montgomery moved from 22nd to 18th. While in the other direction, Alton Jones, Jr. rose from 26th to 13th and Brent Chapman leapt from 28th to 11th place.
The Qualifying Round continues Monday with Group B, currently led by 2019 Major League Fishing (MLF) World Champion Jacob Wheeler. Wesley Strader stands in second place with Randall Tharp, Bobby Lane, and MLF Rookie David Dudley rounding out the top five. Defending 2019 Points Champion and REDCREST presented by Venmo Champion, Edwin Evers sits in 36thplace and Kevin VanDam hopes to hold onto his 13th place to advance to the Knockout Round. The SCORETRACKER® resets to zero for the Knockout Round making it a new game going into Tuesday’s Knockout Round and Wednesday’s Championship Final.
Tuesday’s Qualifying Round, Group B, day two begins with launch 7-7:30 a.m. before lines-in at 8:00 a.m. Period 1 ends at 10:30 a.m. Period 2 spans 10:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Period 3 begins at 1:30 p.m. and lasts until day’s end at 4:00 p.m. The General Tire Takeout show airs approximately 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. as anglers return to the ramp.