MASSENA, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After breaking nearly every major weight record on the Bass Pro Tour this week, Academy Sports + Outdoors pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, added another accolade to his resume Wednesday. Wheeler caught 35 scorable bass weighing 129 pounds even to earn his fourth career Bass Pro Tour victory – the most all-time – and the top prize of $100,000 at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley in Massena, New York.
Among the Bass Pro Tour records that Wheeler set this week was the single-day heaviest weight – 165 pounds, 1 ounce, that he weighed on Day 1 – the heaviest two-day qualifying round weight – 222 pounds, 1 ounce – and the most weight ever weighed in a Championship Round – 129 pounds even – that he set Wednesday. With his latest victory, the 30-year-old pro pushed his career earnings to more than $2.6 million.
“I was fortunate to have a solid practice for this event. I didn’t know what I could catch, and I didn’t know what it would take to win, because it was so crazy out here on the St. Lawrence River,” Wheeler said. “To officially be the champion... I don’t think I’ve ever won on smallmouth on a natural river system, so this feels unbelievable.”
While the final tally on SCORETRACKER® may seem as though it was an easy win for Wheeler, the Tennessee pro found himself in seventh place after a slow start Period 1 with only five smallmouth for 21-8. As he prepared to start his afternoon, Wheeler made the decision to run to an area he found while practicing during his final Qualifying Round.
Thanks to a more than 30-pound cushion in that round, Wheeler was able to scout new areas and find fish for the Championship Round. They were also fish that he knew he could count on because of the area they were located.
“I was looking for fish in the places that had the most wind, because I knew that those areas wouldn’t be fished as much,” Wheeler explained. “I knew that if I was going to have two days off the water that I was going to need to find fish that would be there when I got back in the Championship Round, so I found a spot that was getting beat on by the wind out of the southwest a ton. I knew other guys wouldn’t want to mess with that area because if it was windy like it was, the waves wouldn’t be fun to deal with for flogging and sight fishing.
“I’ve been in a handful of situations like this one right here, and there is nothing like a plan coming together perfectly,” Wheeler went on to say. “I cherish every single win, every single top-10. It’s something that you’re never guaranteed so you have to make sure to take a step back and appreciate these moments. This one right here was special. I cannot wait to celebrate with my wife and my little one.”
Toro pro Jeff Sprague of Point, Texas, matched his career-best finish on the Bass Pro Tour with his second-place showing at the event.
“Finished in second, so close once again,” Sprague said in his post-game interview. “One of these days we’re going to figure out how to win one of these events. But I’m still super excited about my finish this week. We fished extremely hard today, I even ran around this morning and fished new water and tried to make something happen. It was a crazy, amazing week here in New York and I’m thrilled to bank another top-10 finish.”
The top 10 pros at the Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River finished:
1st: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 35 bass, 129-0, $100,000
2nd: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 26 bass, 100-6, $45,000
3rd: Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 31 bass, 91-1, $38,000
4th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 28 bass, 86-15, $32,000
5th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 27 bass, 86-15, $30,000
6th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 25 bass, 84-1, $26,000
7th: Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 24 bass, 83-2, $23,000
8th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 17 bass, 73-14, $21,000
9th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 13 bass, 46-2, $19,000
10th: John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 12 bass, 38-3, $16,000
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 238 bass weighing 819 pounds, 11 ounces caught by the final 10 pros on Wednesday.
Wheeler also won Wednesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing a 6-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth on a drop-shot rig in Period 1 to earn the prize. Lucas earned the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the largest bass of the event with his 6-pound, 13-ounce smallmouth that he weighed on Day 1 of competition.
Pro Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tennessee, finished the event in 12th place and did not qualify for Wednesday’s Championship Round, but his finish was strong enough to maintain his lead in the MLF Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year standings. With two events remaining in the season, DeFoe currently sits with 352 points and owns a 10-point lead over the second-place pro, California’s Brent Ehrler (342). Wheeler remains in third with 338, followed by Florida’s Bobby Lane in fourth place with 311 and Alabama’s Justin Lucas in fifth place with 309. Full AOY standings for the entire Bass Pro Tour field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley featured anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement, meaning each bass caught must weigh at least 2 pounds for it to be deemed scorable. 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 MLF Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley was hosted by the Town of Massena and Fish Massena. The six-day tournament featured 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.
Television coverage of the General Tire Stage Five Presented by Berkley at the St. Lawrence River will be showcased across two two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Oct. 23 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.
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 next event for Bass Pro Tour anglers will be the Bass Pro Tour Stage Six at Lake Champlain, Aug. 5-10 in Plattsburgh, New York.
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, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, the Sportsman Channel and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019 MLF acquired FLW and rebranded it as MLF BIG5, which expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh and immediately release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.
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