Saturday, February 27, 2021

2021 Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River Day 2: Gustafson Remains Leader with 33-08lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 33rd & Chris Johnston 46th

By Christopher Decker


Focusing on smallmouth, Gussy is making it work despite rainy conditions. 
(Photo: BASS)

Despite cool, rainy conditions, Jeff Gustafson maintained the lead during Friday’s second round of the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River, catching a limit of smallmouth bass that weighed 15 pounds, 10 ounces.

His two-day total of 33-8 gives him more than a 3-pound advantage of Tennessee pro Brandon Card, who is second with 30-7.

Gustafson, a two-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier from Canada, said he never expected to catch two limits of smallmouth with the 18-inch minimum size restriction in place for this week’s tournament waters.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “Now with the position I’m in, there’s that stress. It’s been a good week so far. You could have signed me up for 50th place on Wednesday night. One thing I’ve learned doing this, these chances to win don’t come along very often and you just hope you take advantage of it when it happens.” 

While the area Gustafson is fishing is still producing quality smallmouth, the bites didn’t come quite as fast Friday as they did on Day 1. The Keewatin, Ontario, native said he had more bass bump his bait instead of eating it.

After catching four fish in the first two hours, it took Gustafson until just before 1 p.m. to secure his final keeper.

“There are still some fish there, but they were harder to catch today and they are getting harder to catch,” he said. “I wasn’t really able to expand a whole lot, and part of that was it took me so long to catch my fifth fish. 

Friday, February 26, 2021

REDCREST 2021 Bryan Thrift Dominance as First Five Anglers Set for Championship Round!

Thrift in total control of REDCREST

By Mason Prince


Bryan Thrift at another level during elimination rounds. 
(Photo: MLF) 

The bite improved during Knockout Round 2 of REDCREST Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, but there were still some anglers left scratching their head at the end of the day. Warming temperatures paired with bright and sunny skies spelled a move to the bank, but the anglers with the most success—those that are moving on to the Championship Round—found their fish offshore with a variety of tactics.

The 10 anglers who competed on Wednesday during Knockout Round 1 only managed to register 32 scorable bass. Fast forward to Thursday, and Group B nearly doubled that total with 59 total, 14 of which came from round-winner Bryan Thrift.

Bryan Thrift, Ott DeFoeMichael NealTakahiro Omori and Anthony Gagliardi are advancing to the Championship Round where they will join Zack BirgeDustin ConnellJacob WheelerMark Davis and David Dudley. The five anglers who fell below the Toro Cut Line and won’t be advancing out of Group B are Edwin EversJordan LeeAlton Jones Jr.Brent Chapman and Randall Tharp.

Thrift Continues His REDCREST Dominance

For the third time in four days of competition, North Carolina pro Bryan Thrift ended the day on top of SCORETRACKER®. Thrift finished the day with 14 bass for 40 pounds, 8 ounces, with more than 16 pounds of separation between himself and second-place finisher Ott DeFoe.

“I just got off to a great start in that first period that really set me up for the whole day,” Thrift recalled. “I had 11 fish in the first period and I really spent the rest of the time trying to figure stuff out for the Championship Round.”

Thursday, February 25, 2021

2021 Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River Day 1: Gustafson Take Lead with 17-14lbs!

Canadians Cory Johnston 11th & Chris Johnston 66th

By Christopher Decker


Gussy sacks limit of smallies to grab lead.
(Photo: BASS)

In his tournament experience thus far, Canadian Jeff Gustafson said he had never fished a Southern fishery where smallmouth bass act the same as they do up North.

That changed Thursday when the Canadian pro most people know simply as “Gussy” smashed a limit of mostly smallmouth weighing 17 pounds, 14 ounces, securing a Day 1 lead in the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Tennessee River.

The Keewatin, Ontario, native holds a nearly 4-pound advantage over three-time Elite Series champion Steve Kennedy of Auburn, Ala., who put 14-0 on the scales.

“I’m catching them a way that I love to fish at home,” Gustafson said. “I’m pretty excited to get back out there, and I’m 100% committed to smallmouth. I spent five hours largemouth fishing this afternoon and caught one 2-pounder and a couple shorts.

Gustafson said he found the spot during the final day of practice. But with the 18-inch minimum size limit for smallmouth on the Tennessee River, he wasn’t sure if the area held the right quality of fish.

He learned quickly on Thursday that it did, landing a limit of smallmouth by 9:30 a.m. in an area with several other competitors close by.

“It was one of the toughest practices I’ve ever had, and I found a little something yesterday and I didn’t catch big fish like that,” he said. “I didn’t know if I could get a keeper; the 18-inch thing is tough.

“My first fish I hooked this morning was 17 7/8 inches. Then I caught another short and another short, and then the next three I got were keepers. It worked out.”

The bass Gustafson located are in about 20 feet of water, and he said what he is doing is something a little different than most of his competitors.

“What I’m doing is kind of a unique way of catching them,” he said. “It’s not easy for everyone if you’ve never done it.”

REDCREST 2021 Birge Wins Group A’s Knockout Round, First Five Anglers Set for Championship Round

Zack Birge top angler on Wednesday as bit disappears.
(Photo: MLF) 

Things are changing at REDCREST Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage on Lake Eufaula. The most significant change is that the bass appear to be on the move from deep to shallow water. Those transitional fish proved to be tough to catch for the 10 anglers in the first of two Knockout Rounds.

Those 10 anglers managed a sum of 32 bass, but those who advanced today believe things will change for the better very soon.

The top three anglers from today had their theories on why the fishing was a challenge, but each believes things will improve or bust out wide-open in the coming days.

Zack BirgeDustin ConnellJacob WheelerMark Davis and David Dudley have advanced to the Championship Round. Kevin VanDamStephen BrowningAndy MontgomeryAndy Morgan and Fred Roumbanis have been eliminated from contention.

Birge won the round with an eight bass catch totaling 25 pounds, 14 ounces.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

REDCREST 2021 on Lake Eufaula Day 2: Thrift Keeps Atop of Leaderboard!

Top 20 Set for Championship Rounds

By Tyler Brinks

MLF Press Release 

Thrift eyes Championship days after big Day 1 lead. 
(Photo: MLF)

It was a “mixed bag” kind of day Tuesday on Lake Eufaula at the second Qualifying Round of REDCREST Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage. The anglers at the top of the leaderboard mainly spent their day searching and exploring new water, while those below them fought it out to remain in the Top 20 (or to try to climb into it).

Simply keeping pace was the goal for most of the field: anglers who did the best on Day 1 spent the bulk of their time idling and practicing, and the majority of the Top 20 below them remained idle in the standings, posting enough weight to keep their positions for the Knockout Rounds.

There weren’t many drastic shifts on SCORERACKER® as just three anglers moved inside the Top 20 and three subsequently fell out. But there was still some last-minute drama to be seen on MLF NOW!, especially in the final minute.

Fletcher Shryock maintained his position around 20th place for much of the afternoon, but it slipped from his grasp in the closing moments. Michael Neal boated a 3-pound, 4-ounce bass to move past Shryock (who also lost a fish during the same time frame to make it an even tougher pill to swallow).

Edwin Evers, Jordan Lee and Neal jumped into the Top 20, while Mark Rose, Scott Suggs, and Wesley Strader have been eliminated after starting the day safely inside the Toro Cut Line.

Thrift, DeFoe, and Others Explore

Both Bryan Thrift and Ott DeFoe found themselves comfortably ahead of the pack after the first day, with solid leads over most of the field heading into Day 2. Both stated that they planned to use the second Qualifying Day as a scouting mission, and they did just that.

Thrift boated two bass for 5-4 today to push his total to 50 pounds even over two days. DeFoe was in second place going into the day and brought in one fish for 2-6, dropping to fourth.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

REDCREST 2021 on Lake Eufaula Day 1: Thrift 14 Pounds Ahead of DeFoe!

Thrift gives the pack an offshore beat down

By Tyler Brinks


Bryan Thrift uses wealth of knowledge to clobber the pack.
(Photo: MLF) 

There were multiple questions going into the start of
REDCREST 2021 presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage on Lake Eufaula. Most of those questions focused on how the fishing would be for the 40-angler field after just one day of practice.

Eufaula is certainly full of big bass, and all of the anglers fished on this impoundment of the Chattahoochee River to kick off the 2020 Bass Pro Tour season, but could they figure out the big lake in just one day? If you compare today’s first Qualifying Round to the first day of the 2020 event, the answer is a definite “Yes!” – the field surpassed those totals from 2020, and the fishing is expected to get better as the week goes on.

In last season’s event, the opening round saw 129 bass placed on SCORETRACKER® and Chris Lane claimed the lead with 35 pounds, 12 ounces. Monday, 156 bass were scored and North Carolina’s Bryan Thrift made it look easy as he cruised to a 45-pound day, with the bulk of that total by 1 p.m. before shifting gears into practice mode.

Thrift carries a lead of nearly 14 pounds over second-place angler Ott DeFoe going into tomorrow’s competition.

Thrift Runs Away in the Second Period

Thrift’s list of wins and top-10 finishes is expansive and it covers many different fisheries, but he has an affinity for Lake Eufaula. Thrift has finished with a win and second place in Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition and also finished second here last year, in his first-ever Bass Pro Tour event.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

2021 MLF Redcrest Starts Monday on Lake Eufaula Due to Texas Deep Freeze

Inclement Weather Forces MLF to Shift Championship Event to Lake Eufaula – Bass Fishing Capital of the World

Major League Fishing announced today that due to the winter storms, inclement weather, and uncertain conditions in Texas and the entire Southern region, REDCREST 2021 Presented by Old Wisconsin Sausage, the Bass Pro Tour Championship, has been shifted to Lake Eufaula in Eufaula, Alabama. The tournament dates and competition schedule will remain the same – practice will start for the anglers on Sunday, Feb. 21 and the tournament will take place Monday through Friday, Feb. 22-26, on Lake Eufaula at Lakepoint State Park.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Victory Revealed St. Croix announces details of its all-new American-made bass-centric rod series

Bass anglers experience diverse victories, some of which are shared by all. One such collective win is the injection of millions of new and reactivated anglers into our sport, largely created by last year’s pandemic. Yet another comes in the form of today’s much-anticipated announcement of St. Croix’s all-new Victory Series of bass rods.

Most, however, are much more

Voices of Victory

Retired U.S. Special Forces Green Beret Greg Stube 

spent most of his adult life in service of our country, fighting – at great personal sacrifice – to defend the unique freedoms all Americans enjoy. Stube says he wouldn’t trade those 23 years. “My greatest victory has been to serve America as a guardian of freedom in the Armed Forces and to return home alive, able to enjoy the fruits of liberty,” he says. “But I can’t say that professional victory weighs more in my mind and in my heart than the personal victory I feel now when I’m fishing. Like many, fishing is my passion, and it’s become even more satisfying and valuable, because it’s a symbol of everything our active and retired service men and women have fought and sacrificed for. At this time in my life, going after big fish, feeling the fight, and then watching them swim away; that’s my victory.”

Victory for Anglers

Regardless of their experience or expertise, every bass angler has goals. For some – like American hero Greg Stube – those goals center on the simple pleasures of hunting, fooling and releasing bass. Others who rely on catching bass to earn a paycheck often have more specific goals. “Our all-new Victory Series recognizes this and exists to help anglers achieve those personal goals and earn their victories, whatever they may be,” says St. Croix CEO, Scott Forristall, who points out that the Victory Series was conceived as a family of high-performance fishing tools that appeal to anglers at all levels. “This is a comprehensive, American-made bass series that delivers new levels of performance in a mid-level price range of $180-$260,” Forristall states. “These exciting new rods are helping us fulfill

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Storm's Largo Shad

The saltwater swimbait with which Jacob Wheeler has won numerous pro bass tournaments is now available in a new model and color patterns designed for freshwater fishing.

Storm® Lures is introducing the Largo Shad in a new softer-plastic version available in sixteen color patterns, six of which were created with Jacob Wheeler; Gizzard Shad, Albino Shad, Pro Blue Red Pearl, French Pearl, Sexy Shad and Tennessee Shad.

“I’m excited about this, because now I’ve got colors that are designed specifically to trigger bass to bite,” said Wheeler, a Rapala® pro who’s dominated professional bass fishing in the last two years. Storm is one of ten brands in the legendary Rapala family of brands. “Now I have everything I need to travel all over the country, fishing for spotted bass, largemouth and smallmouth. That’s a big deal for me, knowing that that one bait can do it all.”

Although the Storm Largo Shad was originally released as saltwater bait in Storm’s 360GT Coastal collection, Wheeler quickly put them to work in freshwater, catching big bass with them in big-time pro competitions. He caught key fish on them when he won the 2019 Major League Fishing Challenge Cup and the 2019 Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, Stage 6 tournament.

“To build on what was great about the coastal Largo Shad and make one for bass fishing, I worked really close with the folks at Storm to perfect the colors and the action,” said Wheeler. “The plastic is softened up a little bit in the new one, but it’s got the same great durability and action in the water.”

When he won the Bass Pro Tour tournament, casting a Storm Largo Shad into large, offshore schools of bass was Wheeler’s “primary deal,” said Wheeler. On the first day of that competition, contested in June 2019 on Table Rock Lake, Wheeler caught 88 bass on a Largo Shad.

“The profile of that bait is unique to swimbait fishing,” Wheeler said. “There’s nothing like that on the market that I’ve ever seen. It’s got a broader profile that looks more realistic, I feel like it’s imitating the forage that those fish are eating that much better. That’s a huge deal. You want to be on the early part of this trend.”

Swimming with a slow body roll and an exaggerated tail swing, Storm Largo Shad lures feature boot-tails that produce strike-inducing action on both the retrieve and during free fall. Featuring a great shimmy and thump right out of the package, they can be customized by cutting or removing a unique tail tendon for a wider action.

Storm Largo Shad bodies, made from premium phthalate-free plastic, feature two- and three-color injection molding. They have a solid head and strategically placed belly and back grooves for easy, weedless rigging.

A rare combination of durability and fish-enticing action make the Storm Largo Shad Wheeler’s go-to soft swimbait

“You can catch 10 fish or more on one swimbait,” Wheeler added. “You can’t do that with any other swimbait that I know of. And you might think it might hurt the action of the bait, being so durable, but it swims great.”

Monday, February 15, 2021

Rookie Bryan New Wins 2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with 79-07 lbs.

Canadians Cory Johnston 17th, Gustafson 24th & Chris Johnston 34th

By David A. Brown

BASS Press Release

New's first Elite event come with a win.
(Photo: BASS)

Bryan New launched his rookie season in blockbuster form by topping a stout field of well-established finalists and winning the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River with a four-day total of 79 pounds, 7 ounces.

Starting Championship Sunday in sixth place, New trailed Day 3 leader and rising star Patrick Walters by 5-7. Saving his best for last, New posted the event’s second-heaviest bag, 26-4, and edged Elite veteran Greg Hackney by a margin of 9-9. For his efforts, New earned $101,000. 

New caught most of his fish out of lily pads, but he found a few keepers over main-river shellbars about halfway between Palatka and Dunn’s Creek, which connects to Crescent Lake. Targeting bars in about 5 to 7 feet, he fished a Berkley Warpig lipless crankbait in the bleeding shiner color with a slow yo-yoing technique. 

“That wasn’t a winning-fish deal, but without those fish, I don’t win this tournament,” New said.

The pads that produced the bulk of his weight were located at the lower end of Lake George. Fishing 5-inch black and blue Zoom Zlinky worms Texas-rigged on a 5/0 Berkley Fusion hook with a 1/8- and 1/4-ounce weights, New said he focused on isolated pads. 

Skeet Reese Wins 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Lake Okeechobee with 82-14lbs.

Canadians Luzak 46th & Sim 147th 

By Tyler Brink

Major League Press Release

Skeet adjusts to bladed jigs as wind and clouds make for 
for gigantic last day limit. (Photo: MLF) 

Smashing 27 pounds, 9 ounces on the final day of the 13 Fishing Stop 1 of the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Skeet Reese tore past the other leaders for his first major win since 2015. Totaling up 82-14, Reese takes home $100,000 for his second career win in Florida to push his career earnings to over $3.5 million.  

After beginning the tournament in 16th place, Reese got right in the hunt on day two and stayed there throughout the week. He brought in a 21 pound, nine-ounce stringer on the second day to vault into second place. On the third day, he dropped off one spot with a 16-pound limit but did enough to keep him within striking distance.

Today, he simply took over and came home with the win and trophy that comes with it. When the last fish was weighed and Reese was crowned the champion, he was visibly emotional after securing the victory.

As is often the case in Florida, several huge fish were key to Reese’s win.

“This feels really good,” says Reese. “I’ve had some tough fishing the last few years and to be able to come back and win; it is the recognition that my new mindset and hard work paid off. Everybody who fishes tournaments does it to win and to be able to do it against this level of competition, with this big of a field, it’s priceless.”

Reese milked one primary area in South Bay for the entire event. He mixed up his approach each day and alternated between two key lures for the win – a 6″ Berkley PowerBait The General and a green pumpkin vibrating jig with a Berkley PowerBait The Deal in the Skeet’s green money serving as the trailer.

“The first day, I was focusing on the isolated clumps of reeds that were a little deeper,” says Reese. “I started targeting water that was 4-feet deep because all of the shallower stuff was getting so much pressure. I stayed out a little further from the bank on the isolated pencil reeds and caught a few good ones the second day by pitching The General on a 5/0 hook with a ¼-ounce weight on 25-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.”

Friday, February 12, 2021

2021 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River Day 1: Clouse Leads with 25-12lbs.

Canadians: Cory Johnston 4th, Chris Johnston 21st. &  Gustafson 41st. 

BASS Press Release

Afternoon bite key for Clouse.
(Photo: Seigo Seito)

Gary Clouse knew what he had to do, and he was determined that not even a three-hour fog delay was going to stop him.

It was a good call for the Tennessee pro who caught a five-bass limit that weighed 25 pounds, 12 ounces Thursday to lead Day 1 of the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at the St. Johns River.

After dense fog created hazardous navigational conditions, B.A.S.S. delayed Thursday’s scheduled 7 a.m. takeoff until 10:15.

Taking off in the 69th position in a field of 99 boats, Clouse had plenty of time to contemplate his game plan, which involved making what he called a long run.

“I was fishing bedding areas and bed fish too; it was a little of both,” Clouse said. “I feel like the fish are coming to me because I went into this area in practice and I had a couple of bites, but I had no idea it was going to be loaded like that.”

With this week’s new moon plus a warming trend that started Wednesday, the stage was set for a textbook spawning movement. Clouse said he believed his distant spot offered him the best opportunity, but he admits he had to ignore his mental question marks.

“I had all kinds of doubts while I was running,” he said. “I thought maybe I should just pull over here and try to catch one. That crossed my mind — like I shouldn’t make this run. 

“It was a huge gamble. The smarter money would have been to stay close and get a couple fish and hopefully get a long day tomorrow. But I just decided to go for it and I’m glad I did.”

Thursday, February 11, 2021

2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Lake Okeechobee: Neece Jr. Smashes 27 on Day 1

Canadians: Luzak 22nd & Sim 148th

By Tyler Brinks

Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Press Release

Great start to the 2021 season for Jim Neece Jr. (Photo: MLF)

Tournament mornings are always exciting, but today was the dawn of a new season. Fresh boat wraps and jerseys were unveiled and each of the 162 anglers in the field had the same optimism for the new season and what will unfold for 2021 on the
Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit.

It didn’t hurt that 13 Fishing Stop 1 was held on sunny Lake Okeechobee in Florida while most of the country is in the midst of a “polar vortex.”  

Air temperatures in the 80s greeted the anglers as they took to the legendary lake and even though the Big O changes year-to-year with varying water levels and changing vegetation, it’s still the same old Okeechobee. Some anglers will catch them flipping and pitching and some do it by winding baits.

That was the case today as each of those methods accounted for some solid bags of Florida bass, but leading the charge was Tennessee’s Jim Neece Jr. with a limit weighing 27 pounds.

Top 10 Below

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Pick the Winner: MinnKota's Facebook Contest


Comment on their Facebook post for a chance to win a $100 apparel prize pack!

The Elite Series event on St. Johns River is almost here and you could win free Minn Kota and Humminbird apparel. All you have to do is comment on our Facebook post with the name of the Bassmaster Elite pro angler that you think will place the highest this weekend at St. Johns River.

Submit your entry by 11:59 PM (CT) on Wednesday, February 10th. If you choose the correct angler, you will be entered to win an apparel promo code valued at $100. (Good towards Minn Kota and Humminbird apparel)

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Spring Fishing and Boat Show Going Virtual for 2021


All-Star Guest speakers include: 

Bob Izumi Big 

Jim McLaughlin

 Brian Latimer

Chris and Cory Johnston

Jeff Gustafson

Mike Miller

Oliver Ng

Nick Cousvis

and many more 

More info click here. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

New RAPALA X-RAP Prop Pattern


The topwater bait that helped Rapala® fishing pro Jacob Wheeler win a $500,000 Forest Wood Cup prize during the summer of the 2012 Olympics is now available in two new color patterns that will have anglers everywhere going for their own gold. 

Rapala is introducing Rapala® X-Rap® Props in “Florida Gold” and “Black Chrome Orange.” The former features a gold-medal color body, black back and red throat. The latter features a chrome-gold body, black back and orange belly and throat.

X-Rap® Props in gold color patterns are especially effective in fisheries with golden-hued forage species. Florida largemouth, for example, “just can’t stand a golden shiner around them,”  Wheeler explains. “And they’re always going to eat that.”

In northern waters, gold color-pattern X-Rap Prop baits drive smallmouth bass mad, yielding explosive bites and exciting fish catches.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Old Town Canoes and Kayaks Sponsor Ontario Kayak Bass Trail

The OKBT would like to welcome back 

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks

 and thank them for their support of the OKBT in 2021. With over 100 years of innovation, Old Town is the world’s oldest, largest and most revered manufacturer of canoes and kayaks. With a product offering that spans from paddle, to pedal , to power, we are sure that Old Town has something for you.

Old town will be supplying the OKBT with a Sportsman Bigwater PDL 132 kayak that will be drawn at the end of the season at the Lake of Bays event. Full details and conditions to be announced later.