Oklahoma Pro Advance Directly to Wednesday’s Championship Round to Compete for $100,000 with Two-Day Total of 67 Pounds, 4 Ounce, Field of 38 Set for Tuesday’s Knockout Round

Link to Video of Fish Catch Highlights from Day 2, Qualifying Group B

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AUSTIN, Texas (May 3, 2021)Favorite Fishing pro Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma, boated 15 scorable bass Monday weighing 25 pounds, 2 ounces to win the two-day Qualifying Group B round at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Berkley Stage Two at Lake Travis Presented by Mercury event in Austin, Texas. Birge’s two-days total of 33 bass weighing 67 pounds, 4 ounces, was enough to earn the victory by more than 9 pounds and advance the Oklahoma angler directly into Wednesday’s final-day Championship Round of competition.

The six-day tournament, hosted by the Austin Sports Commission, 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.

Day 1 leader, Academy pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, caught a two-day total of 18 bass weighing 58-3 to end the round in second place, and South Carolina angler Andy Montgomery finished the round in third place with a two-day total of 15 bass weighing 34-0.

The remaining 38 anglers – 19 from Group A and 19 from Group B – will now compete Tuesday in the Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top eight to advance to Championship Wednesday. Wednesday’s Championship Round will feature Group A winner Brent Chapman, Group B winner Birge, and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round competing in a final-day shootout for the top prize of $100,000.

“The goal coming into today was to win the Round,” Birge said. “I had a near 10-pound deficit to Wheeler, but fortunately we were able to make that up. I was a little worried throughout the first period, but I slowly caught up and we ended up pulling ahead in the third period. I made some good decisions and ended up catching a few more at the end of the day that gave us a little bit of a margin.”

On a tough day where the majority of the field struggled, Birge excelled using an Omega Custom Tackle finesse jig.

“Basically, all I’ve done the past two days is thrown a small finesse Omega Custom jig,” Birge said. “It’s a green-pumpkin and purple jig, and I’m throwing it with a small trailer, a Googan Krackin’ Craw Junior. I’m throwing the jig on my 7-foot, 3-inch Signature Series Favorite rod with 12-pound Yo-Zuri T7 fluorocarbon line . I’ve been downsizing my line to try to get more bites – this water is gin clear, and I definitely think that has helped me get more bites throughout the day. That little jig gets a lot of bites and catches a lot of fish.”

Despite finishing the round in second place, Wheeler was definitely one of the anglers that struggled, Monday. After catching 16 scorable bass for 52-11 Saturday on Day 1, the Tennessee pro only managed to add two scorable bass to his tally.

“Although I came up short of winning, at the end of the day I’m trying to look at this more as a positive because the key to winning this tournament is going to be finding groups of fish,” Wheeler said. “Things are changing here, constantly. My pattern completely died today. The water temperature is rising – it’s up to 80 degrees right now – and I really think that to do well I’m going to have to get on a current-based pattern. I’m looking forward to getting back out here tomorrow and trying to see if we can’t catch them again.”

The top 20 pros from Qualifying Group B that now advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round on Lake Travis are:

1st:        Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 33 bass, 67-4
2nd:       Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 18 bass, 58-3
3rd:       Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 15 bass, 34-0
4th:       Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., 11 bass, 31-0
5th:       Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., 14 bass, 30-2
6th:       Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 15 bass, 29-14
7th:       Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 12 bass, 29-11
8th:       Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 14 bass, 28-3
9th:       David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 10 bass, 27-0
10th:     Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, 12 bass, 26-9
11th:     Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 11 bass, 25-8
12th:     Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., 13 bass, 24-13
13th:     Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 14 bass, 24-10
14th:     Ott DeFoe, Knoxville, Tenn., 12 bass, 24-5
15th:     Alton Jones, Woodway, Texas, 13 bass, 23-8
16th:     Jared Lintner, Arroyo Grande, Calif., 12 bass, 22-13
17th:     Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., nine bass, 22-8
18th:     Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 12 bass, 21-15
19th:     Mike McClelland, Blue Eye, Mo., 12 bass, 21-13
20th:     Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., seven bass, 21-6

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 162 bass weighing 334 pounds, 12 ounces caught by 38 pros on Monday.

Lefebre caught a 7-pound, 4-ounce largemouth on a finesse jig in Period 3 to win Monday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler that 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 Berkley Stage Two at Lake Travis Presented by Mercury is hosted by the Austin Sports Commission.

The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Friday and Sunday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Saturday and Monday. With both groups two-day qualifying round now complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups now advance to Tuesday’s Knockout Round, while the 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. Full breakdown of the format can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. CT each day of competition from Mansfield Dam Park, located at 4370 Mansfield Dam Park Road in Austin. The General Tire Takeout will also be held at the park daily beginning at 3:15 p.m.

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 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of the Bass Pro Tour Berkley Stage Two at Lake Travis Presented by Mercury will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Sept. 11 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.

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

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