Jacob Wheeler maintained his dominance of Bass Pro Tour rounds on Friday. Photo by Garrick Dixon
NEENAH, Wis. – Another day, another “Jacob Wheeler is leading the round” headline. The Tennessee pro added another first-place finish in Friday’s Elimination Round at the Bass Pro Tour Evinrude Stage Eight Presented by Tracker Off Road.
To say that Wheeler has been on fire and is fishing with confidence (no matter what lake he’s on) is an understatement.
However, several exciting storylines overshadowed his cruise control day on Winnebago. And as we always see during the Elimination Round, there was plenty to pay attention to.
We had a down-to-the-wire battle for Points Champion, we had REDCREST qualifications minted, as well as some slipping through anglers’ fingers. And oh yeah, we had the chance to move on to the Knockout Round on Lake Butte des Morts.
Wheeler began the day in first place and held that position all day long. This marks the fifth time in the last six competition days that he has finished up as the leader.
He had a two-day total of 55 bass for 84 pounds, 15 ounces, with 22 bass for 33 pounds, 11 ounces coming during today’s competition.
As the focus shifts to Lake Butte des Morts, he will still be one to watch as he is a favorite on any lake in the country right now.
Evers vs. Sprague Battle Ends
With as many Knockout and Championship Round appearances these two have had this season, it’s a surprise that the Bass Pro Tour Points Champion title was settled so early this week.
After the dust settled, Sprague had finished in 25th place in Elimination Group B, four spots below where Evers ended up yesterday. Evers finishes the season with 510 points to Sprague’s 500, earning the first-ever Bass Pro Tour Points Championship.
It’s the first time this year that neither will compete in the Knockout Round. Evers had made six of eight, while this was the first time Sprague did not advance.
The REDCREST Shuffle
There are 30 spots available for the league’s inaugural championship event, and coming into this week, 18 of those spots had been claimed. That left 12 places and 26 anglers still mathematically alive to qualify.
That number has shrunk, and there are still 10 anglers vying for the final four spots.
Here’s what we know based on estimated calculations:
The following seven have qualified: Bradley Roy, Mike Iaconelli, Zack Birge, Wesley Strader, Brandon Palaniuk, Casey Ashley, Fred Roumbanis, and Greg Vinson.
These 10 anglers are still alive: Takahiro Omori, Cody Meyer, Jason Christie, Fletcher Shryock, Anthony Gagliardi, Alton Jones Jr., Randall Tharp, Randy Howell, Mark Daniels, Jr., and Justin Lucas.
These anglers have been mathematically eliminated: Alton Jones, Adrian Avena, Mark Davis, Dave Lefebre, Luke Clausen, Jesse Wiggins, Josh Bertrand, and Gerald Swindle.
Lucas’ Chances are Slim (but Alive)
Based on calculations, Justin Lucas would need to win this event and have some help to have a chance at REDCREST. With 30 minutes to go today, that looked impossible as he was in 25th place with the clock ticking.
But, when time expired, Lucas was in 20th place, and his tournament will continue thanks to some last-minute heroics.
“I caught four fish from one rock right at the end,” said Lucas, adding that he now has one goal. “Winning this event is all that matters right now. If we win and still don’t qualify for REDCREST that will be alright, too.”
The Knockout Round will be held on Lake Butte des Morts, which is connected to Lake Winnebago on the west shore via the Fox River. The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies, a high of 85-degrees and light winds.
Shotgun Round daily awards were:
• The Berkley Big Bass of the day was Andy Morgan’s 3-14 largemouth.
• Cliff Pace won the Berkley Catch Count award with 27 bass on the day.
• Fred Roumbanis earned the Phoenix Boats Daily Leader award with 45-1.
The Top 20 from both Groups will compete on Lake Butte des Morts for Saturday’s Knockout Round. Weights will be zeroed, making the Knockout a one-day scramble. The Top 10 anglers in the Knockout Round will advance to the Championship Round on Green Lake on Sunday, June 30.
How, When, Where to Watch
Competition continues on Saturday at 7 a.m. CT, with live, official scoring available via SCORETRACKER® on MajorLeagueFishing.com and on the MLF app. The MLF NOW! live stream begins at 9:30 a.m. CT with Chad McKee, JT Kenney, Marty Stone, and Natalie Dillon.
The Postgame Show Presented by Berkley will begin at approximately 4:30 p.m CT. If you’re in the area, come see us at Shattuck Middle School in Neenah.
By Tyler Brinks – June 28, 2019 Article from Major League Fishing