|Jacob Wheeler will fish in the 13th Championship Round of his career |
after a win in the Knockout Round on Lake Champlain. Photo by Phoenix Moore
By Mason Prince
Bass Pro Tour Press Release
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – While the Knockout Round didn’t earn him another $100,000 check for the season, it’s safe to say that Jacob Wheeler, once again, has as good of a shot as anyone to take home another win in the 2021 season. Wheeler totaled 32 Lake Champlain bass for 107 pounds, 2 ounces to beat Brent Ehrler by 27-7 in the Knockout Round of the Toyota Stage Six Presented by Googan Baits.
Wheeler—a four-time winner on the Bass Pro Tour—will head into the Championship Round as the only angler besides Group A winner, Matt Lee, to have a 100-pound day on Champlain. The Tennessee pro spent most of his day in deeper water working a drop-shot catching both smallmouth and largemouth.
The Googan Baits pro will have to go toe-to-toe Tuesday with some hammers who have Champlain figured out in their own right, but he heads into his fourth Championship Round of the season with tons of confidence thanks to another solid day of fishing.
“This place is unbelievable even though it’s taken me a little longer than usual to dial it in,” Wheeler mentioned. “Every time I fish here it’s different, and this time I’m starting to get it. It’s one of the best lakes in the country and this lake has got ‘em. I’ve got my work cut out for me tomorrow, but it should be a lot of fun.”
Turning an eye to the Angler of the Year race, four of the top five anglers in the standings will compete on Tuesday. Ott DeFoe (first), Brent Ehrler (second), Wheeler (third) and Lucas (fifth) are all in a dogfight as they head into the Championship Round and then into the final event of the season on Lake St. Clair. Thanks to his 10-point lead over Ehrler, even if DeFoe finishes in 10th place and Ehrler finishes first, the two would be tied for first in AOY heading into Stage Seven. As for Wheeler and Lucas, they will be looking to not only win Stage Six, but hope for Ehrler and DeFoe to struggle with the changing conditions expected on Champlain tomorrow.
Pro Circuit angler Jacopo Gallelli ended the Knockout Round in fourth place with 25 bass for 66 pounds. The Italian pro will be making his first Championship Round appearance in his first Bass Pro Tour tournament.
Who’s In, Who’s Out?
Bryan Thrift, Jacopo Gallelli, Kelly Jordon, Timmy Horton and Wesley Strader will all be competing in their first Championship Round of the 2021 season after finishing in the top eight on Monday. Qualifying Round Group A winner Matt Lee will also be fishing in his first Championship Round of the season.
Brandon Coulter finished ninth, 2-11 behind Strader for the final spot in the top eight. Coulter missed automatically qualifying for the Championship Round by 7 ounces on Sunday after falling short of Group B winner Justin Lucas.
Stephen Browning caught two fish in the final five minutes, including a 5-4 largemouth, but was unable to catch up to Strader. “The Puma” will leave Stage Six with a 12th-place finish.
Numbers and Notes from Day 3
Stephen Browning caught the Berkley Big Bass of the day ($1,000) with only five minutes remaining in the round, a 5-4 largemouth.
Jacob Wheeler caught the most bass (32) for the most weight (107-2) in the Knockout Round.
Tuesday will be Wheeler’s 13th Championship Round appearance in three seasons on the Bass Pro Tour. DeFoe and Ehrler both will be fishing in their ninth.
What’s Up Next
Toyota Stage Six Presented by Googan Baits culminates Tuesday with the Championship Round on Lake Champlain. Justin Lucas and Matt Lee will join the top eight from the Knockout Round to complete the field of 10 anglers. Weights will once again reset back to zero and the angler who ends the day on top of SCORETRACKER® will win Stage Six and take home the $100,000 prize.
Much like Monday, the weather forecast calls for sunny conditions and temperatures peaking near the mid-80s for Tuesday’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.