Monday, August 9, 2021

2021 MLF Bass Pro Tour Lake Champlain: Group B Qualifying Round

Justin Lucas clinched a berth in the Championship Round of Stage Six
thanks to his Group B win on Lake Champlain. (Photo: MLF)

By Mason Prince

Bass Pro Tour Press Release

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Going into the Toyota Stage Six Presented by Googan Baits, the Angler of the Year race was thought to only be a three-horse race between Ott DeFoe, Jacob Wheeler and Brent Ehrler. Thanks to the Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm, a bunch of Lake Champlain smallmouth and a trip straight to the Championship Round, it’s Justin Lucas who could be leaving New York in the driver’s seat of the AOY derby.

Lucas won Group B’s Qualifying Round with a two-day total of 31 bass for 101 pounds, 10 ounces, besting second-place Brandon Coulter by 9 ounces to earn a berth in Tuesday’s Championship Round. After Coulter caught a 2-pounder with only two minutes left in the round, Lucas said he felt the pressure. Luckily for Lucas, Coulter wasn’t able to find one more bite due to some algae blowing into his area, causing the water clarity and visibility to tank.


“I need a day off in the worst kind of way because I have to get my stuff together for the Championship Round,” a flustered Lucas said after his win. “My boat is a disaster and it was a hard fight with Coulter today. I can’t believe we won it because I really felt like things weren’t going our way, but I caught more fish today than I did on my first day. I just need an off day and a beer and I’ll be ready to go again.”

While Lucas was securing his spot in the Championship Round, Casey AshleyJordan Lee and Alton Jones Jr. were jockeying for the final spot in the top 20 for the right to go to the Knockout Round. Ashley led both Lee and Jones by 2-10 in the final 10 minutes. With only six minutes remaining in Period 3, Jones was able to hook a 2-11 smallmouth, knocking Ashley below the Toro Cut Line by just 1 ounce. Jordan Lee finished 2-15 behind Jones in 22nd place.

Alton Jones Jr. caught this 3-11 smallmouth on Lake Champlain to help earn him a spot in Monday’s Knockout Round.

Stage Four champion Kevin VanDam was running on only two hours of sleep, but managed to fight his way into the top 20 and make the Knockout Round. VanDam went to a family wedding in New York City during his off day on Saturday, but had some trouble making it back to Plattsburgh in the evening. VanDam’s plane was diverted to Burlington, Vermont at around 2 a.m. ET, and that’s when he gave Bryan Thrift a call.

“I had to call Thrift to come pick me up since he was going to be off the water on Sunday having fished Saturday,” VanDam explained. “He drove in the middle of the night to pick me up in Vermont, take me back to Plattsburgh, then took me to get my car at the airport early this morning so I could fish today. I owe a big thank you to Thrift because not a lot of guys would do that.”

VanDam finished in 18th place with 18 bass for 50-3 and will join Thrift in the Knockout Round on Monday.

Who’s In, Who’s Out?

  • Kevin VanDam and Brent Ehrler were the only two anglers to begin the day below the Toro Cut Line and end the day above it. KVD finished in 18th while Ehrler grabbed 13th.
  • Cliff Crochet came on strong in Period 3, but was unable to crack the top 20. After only one bass for 2-4 on Friday, Crochet caught 13 bass for 39-12 on Sunday.
  • Shaw Grigsby began Sunday in 14th place but ended his day in 26th after only adding 10-8 to his total weight.

Numbers and Notes from Day 3

  • Kelly Jordon caught the Berkley Big Bass of the day (a $1,000 bonus), a 5-9 largemouth.
  • Brandon Coulter caught the most scorable bass with 24 on Sunday.
  • Jacob Wheeler caught the most weight on Sunday with 58-10.

What’s Up Next

Toyota Stage Six Presented by Googan Baits continues Monday with the Knockout Round on Lake Champlain. Justin Lucas and Matt Lee will not fish in the Knockout Round as they have both advanced straight to the Championship Round on Tuesday. The remaining 35 anglers’ weights will reset back to zero. The eight pros with the most weight on SCORETRACKER® after three periods will move on to the Championship Round.

AOY frontrunners Ott DeFoe (352 points), Brent Ehrler (342 points) and Jacob Wheeler (338 points) will all fish during the Knockout Round.

The weather forecast calls for sunny conditions and temperatures peaking near the mid-80s for Monday’s competition. The anglers should expect wind in excess of 10 mph in the late morning and early afternoon.

You can catch all three periods of competition Monday on the MLF NOW! live stream, starting at 8:45 a.m. ET. Competition begins with lines in at 9 a.m. ET.

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