Saturday, June 29, 2024

2024 TNT Firework Bassmaster Elite at Smith Lake Day 3: Robert Gee Snags Lead, Takumi Ito 2nd!

Canadians Cory Johnston 4th, Gallant 7th, Chris Johnston 18th & Gustafson 40th

By Andrew Calulette

BASS Press Release

CULLMAN, Ala. — With the leaderboard as tight as it’s been at the TNT Fireworks Bassmaster Elite at Smith Lake, the door was open for any of the 50 remaining anglers in the tournament to move up the standings.

Robert Gee is that guy.

After lurking near the lead for the first half of the tournament, the 25-year-old Knoxville, Tenn., resident grabbed the pole position on Saturday with a 14-pound, 2-ounce bag that gave him a three-day total of 41-9.

It’s the slimmest of cushions, though, with every one of the remaining 10 anglers in the field less than four pounds from Gee’s lead. And that’s perfectly fitting for what could be one of the most competitive Championship Sundays in recent memory.

Taku Ito, the 38-year-old veteran from Chiba, Japan, is just behind Gee with a three-day weight of 41-7. Jay Przekurat, a 25-year-old Elite pro from Stevens Point, Wis., is third with 41-6.

Gee’s lead might be bigger, but he had three fish expire on Day 2 of the tournament, which resulted in a 12-ounce deduction to his daily total. In a difficult derby, when every ounce is precious, he’s hoping that unfortunate situation doesn’t come back to haunt him.

“It’s going to be a game of ounces,” Gee said. “And I might be up by a pound without that penalty. It was the heat. I guess I didn’t buy enough ice. It was just stress on the fish from being so hot.”

2024 TNT Firework Bassmaster Elite at Smith Lake Day 2: Cody Huff Grabs Lead!

Canadians Cory Johnston 5th, Gallant 15th, Chris Johnston 25th & Gustafson 40th

By Andrew Calulette 

BASS Press Release

CULLMAN, Ala. — The heat was on,

literally and figuratively, on Day 2 of the

TNT Fireworks Bassmaster Elite at

Smith Lake. And at the halfway point of this Elite

Series derby, Cody Huff is the one

holding fellow Elite feet to the fire.

Huff, a 27-year-old pro from Ava, Mo., leads the tournament with a two-day total of 10 bass for 29 pounds, 1 ounce. And while that might not be the eye-popping weight the sport’s best sticks regularly post, it’s certainly an impressive total given the slack bite on Day 1 followed by blistering temperatures that pushed the heat index into triple digits Friday.

The heat was extreme enough that Huff came to the scales more than an hour early on Friday, weighing in at approximately 1 p.m.

“I had a fish die on me, and I didn’t want to take the chance of losing any more,” Huff said.

His 15-4 total Friday was the heaviest of the day, even with the expired fish factored into his total. He bagged 13-13 on Thursday.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

2024 TNT Firework Bassmaster Elite at Smith Lake Day 1: Hunter Shryock Leads with 15-15lb!

Canadians Cory Johnston 2nd, Chris Johnston 33rd, Gallant 39th & Gustafson 53rd

By Andrew Calulette 

BASS Press Release

CULLMAN, Ala. — As predicted, catching a big bag on Day 1 of the TNT Fireworks Bassmaster Elite at Smith Lake wasn’t the easiest proposition.

But a handful of competitors gutted out a tough day on the 21,000-acre fishery and gave themselves a slim edge on opening day of this derby in north-central Alabama.

Hunter Shryock, a 35-year-old resident of Ooltewah, Tenn., caught a five-bass limit weighing 15 pounds, 15 ounces to take the Day 1 lead. He’s just ahead of Canada’s Cory Johnston, who’s second with 14-12, and Ohio’s Alex Redwine, in third with 14-8.

In all, 76 of the 98 competitors are within 6 pounds of Shryock’s lead – underscoring not only how tough the fishing was on Smith, but also the unlikelihood anyone will run away with the lead.

Shryock did all he could, however, to put some distance between himself and the field on Day 1. Like most, he weighed spotted bass, but he added a trio of heftier largemouth to his catch, which isn’t exactly common on Smith Lake in June. One of them was a 4-7, earning Shryock $1,000 for having the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Easton Fothergill Wins 2024 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula!

Easton Fothergill takes the win at the 2024 St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula presented by SEVIIN with 52 pounds, 8 ounces.

By David Brown

BASS Press Release

EUFAULA, Okla. — Easton Fothergill’s an easygoing guy with no apparent mean streak, but he started Day 3 of the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Lake Eufaula presented by SEVIIN with a chip on his shoulder. Suffice to say, his winning total of 52 pounds, 8 ounces more than settled the score.

Keeping himself near the top, the pro from Grand Rapids, Minn., weighed a third-place limit of 17-12 on Day 1 and held his position with a second-round limit of 16-11. Championship Saturday saw Fothergill charge ahead with his biggest bag, a limit of 18-1 that pushed him across the finish line.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024


Every bite matters. Every fish counts. If it’s not in the boat, it doesn’t count. Period.

To maximize the number of fish in the boat, Rapala® went to its roster of top bass pros to develop a premium suspending jerkbait. After countless prototypes and months of testing, Rapala is introducing the first lure in the new PXR family, the Mavrik™ 110 jerkbait

If you’re looking for that extra edge, this is the jerkbait to turn to.

“This is the best suspending jerkbait that I’ve ever fished,” said Rapala pro Ott DeFoe, a Rapala Pro, Bassmaster Classic Champion and winner of 11 other top-tier Bassmaster and Major League Fishing (MLF) tournaments.

PXR stands for Precision, Xtreme®, Redline. The first in a series of elite, professional-grade lures to be introduced by Rapala, the PXR Mavrik is a suspending jerkbait made with the finest construction and unrivaled technical qualities demanded by Rapala’s pro staff.

The PXR Mavrik™ provides premium features, starting with Rapala’s Long-Cast System, which provides accurate, ultra-long casts to maximize time in the strike zone. 

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Cliff Prince Wins Whataburger Elite on Wheeler Lake!

With a four-day total of 80 pounds, 15 ounces, Cliff Prince takes the title at the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake.

By Christopher Decker 

BASS Press Release

DECATUR, Ala. — Cliff Prince has suffered several difficult defeats in his 12-year career on the Bassmaster Elite Series, but this week he made sure he wasn’t going to beat himself. 

By catching 15 pounds, 2 ounces on Championship Sunday, Prince collected his first Elite Series victory at the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake with a four-day total of 80-15. He survived a hard charge from Ray Hanselman Jr. on the final day to hoist the blue trophy and earn a $100,000 payday.

“I’ve been close several times and I let it slip through my fingers,” Prince said. “I told myself, ‘I’m not going to beat myself this week. If I’m going to get beat, it is going to be by somebody else, not me.’ I think I did that. I accomplished what I set out to do once I saw that I had a chance to win.”

Happy Father's Day


Wishing all the father's a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 15, 2024

2024 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake Day 2: Cliff Prince Moves into Lead!

Canadians Gallant 29th, Gustafson 53rd, Chris Johnston 57th & Cory Johnston 88th.   

BASS Press Release

DECATUR, Ala. — When he arrived for practice for the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake, Cliff Prince hadn’t studied a map or done any research on the lake. He wanted as clear of a head as possible, and so far, it has paid off in a big way.

With a 20-pound, 7-ounce Day 2 performance, “The Prince of Palatka” jumped into the lead at Wheeler Lake with a two-day total of 39-11. Opening the tournament in fourth with a 19-4 limit, Prince now holds a 2-8 advantage over Alabama’s Justin Hamner, while Day 1 leader John Cox is third with 34-13.

The last time the Elites visited this Tennessee River reservoir in 2016, Prince suffered a dismal 105th-place finish. This time around, he didn’t think about Wheeler Lake until he put the boat in the water to start practice.

“I had someone ask me before this tournament, ‘Did you go practice?’ And I said no,’” the three-time Classic qualifier from Palatka, Fla., said. “I didn’t look at a map. I didn’t read anything. I wanted to come here with an open mind and just practice. I didn’t want to have any preconceived notions.”

That practice strategy proved productive as Prince has maximized and guarded one key spot he found on the main lake just a short distance from the takeoff spot at Ingalls Park. He has been throwing two baits around a patch of grass that surrounds a hard spot with shell in about 4 feet of water. While he’s caught mostly largemouth, he has hooked into several big smallmouth as well.

Friday, June 14, 2024

2024 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake Day 1: John Cox Snags Lead!

Canadians Gallant 18th, Gustafson 30th, Chris Johnston 65th & Cory Johnston 81st.   

By Christopher Decker

BASS Press Release

Butterflies and heatwaves are seemingly important ingredients to success for John Cox when he shows up at Wheeler Lake. The DeBary, Fla., pro caught 22 pounds, 2 ounces to claim the Day 1 lead at the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Wheeler Lake, nearly eight years after winning a Forrest Wood Cup on this fishery.

“It was just one of those days,” said Cox, a six-time Classic qualifier. “It was awesome and I just caught big ones. I hope there are a few more in there. The water is falling quickly and it might be an issue even getting in there. It was really cool.”

During his Forrest Wood Cup victory in August of 2016 at Wheeler, a butterfly floated around Cox’s boat nearly the entire tournament, even landing on his nose at one point. After landing his final bass this afternoon, he noticed a butterfly flying around his marshal. 

In search of his first Elite Series victory, Cox is hoping it’s a sign of things to come.

“It is nuts. I catch the last big one and this butterfly lands on my marshal’s head,” Cox explained. “And when I won the Cup, that butterfly was landing on me the entire tournament. I got the chills thinking about that. It is so weird.”

Temperatures have been on the rise across northern Alabama this week, reaching the 90-degree mark on Thursday. With no rain in the forecast either, current generation at the Wheeler Dam has slowed down and made the fishing across the lake a little tougher than many anglers anticipated.

Cox landed just one limit during his three days of practice and said he would have been happy if he caught 10 pounds on Day 1.

“Today was a miracle, honestly,” he said. “I only caught a couple fish the other days of practice and I was just hoping I could get five somehow so I didn’t finish dead last. It was so incredible. As incredible as the Cup.” 

After trying to find a vacant area first thing in the morning, Cox settled in and caught the majority of his weight in one small area featuring shallow grass. He caught most of his bag early in the day, but made two key culls in the afternoon hours. 

The biggest key to his area was the presence of gizzard shad. A Berkley Swamp Lord produced his best bites, including a 6-12 largemouth that anchored his bag.

“I think they were eating the gizzard shad and then all of a sudden the gizzards pushed up into this area. I smoked them on the Swamp Lord,” Cox said. “They don’t look like shallow fish. I think they came out of deep water.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The Tungsten ChatterBait Elite EVO

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Drew Gill Wins 2024 Bass Pro Tour U.S. Air Force Stage Five Presented by WIX Filters!

Mitchell Forde


EDENTON, N.C. — Over the past two years, Drew Gill has rocketed up the tournament-fishing ranks about as rapidly as any angler in recent memory. Competing in his fifth Bass Pro Tour event at U.S. Air Force Stage Five Presented by WIX Filters, he made it to the mountaintop.

Gill put together an epic run during the second period of Sunday’s Championship Round on the Chowan River. In a little less than 2 hours, the 22-year-old rookie stacked 10 bass totaling 31 pounds, 12 ounces onto SCORETRACKER®. The best period logged by any angler during the event, it turned a nearly 9-pound deficit to Michael Neal into better than a 14-pound advantage. The rest of the way, Gill would add another 10 pounds and change, bringing his total to 58-14 — also the best day for any angler all week. That topped Neal by 14 pounds, earning Gill $100,000 and his first BPT trophy.

“Everything I’ve wanted for the last few years was to just make it to this field and get to compete against these guys,” Gill said. “To make it to this field and get to compete against them and get a win in my rookie season, the feeling is absolutely unquantifiable.” 

Here’s how the Top 10 pros finished the Championship Round:

  1. Drew Gill — 58-14 (22)

  2. Michael Neal — 44-14 (18)

  3. Dustin Connell — 41-14 (20)

  4. Jacob Wheeler — 36-1 (12)

  5. Justin Lucas — 31-4 (12)

  6. Alton Jones Jr. — 31-0 (13)

  7. Matt Becker — 25-10 (7)

  8. Zack Birge — 11-8 (5)

  9. Ott DeFoe — 11-8 (6)

  10. Fred Roumbanis — 9-15 (3)

Complete results

An inevitable win Gill didn’t see coming

On one hand, it might seem like Gill, who started fishing tournaments in 2021 and was competing at the Abu Garcia College Fishing level as recently as this January, came out of nowhere to reach this point. On the other, the victory almost feels like a long time coming.

Friday, June 7, 2024

2024 U.S. Air Force Stage Five Presented by WIX Filters on Chowan River Group A: Connell earns another Qualifying Round Win

Dustin Connell maintained his lead throughout the day to finish with 33 bass weighing 74 pounds, 5 ounces. Photo by Phoenix Moore.

By Tyler Brinks 


EDENTON, N.C. — Windy conditions on the Chowan River enabled the trailering policy for the day, but the blustery weather couldn’t stop the anglers from catching piles of bass at U.S. Air Force Stage Five Presented by WIX Filters. It certainly didn’t slow down Mercury pro Dustin Connell (who had every intention of spending his second day on the water “practicing”), as he sacked up another 14 bass for 26 pounds, 13 ounces on the day. His two-day total was 74-5, more than 20 pounds ahead of Alton Jones Jr. with 53-6 for the Qualifying Round.

As with all elimination days on the Bass Pro Tour, there was plenty of drama on SCORETRACKER® as anglers made clutch catches while jockeying for position. The improved fishing also helped, as many anglers posted big numbers and made runs toward the top. Two anglers with more than 30 pounds – Justin Lucas and Gary Klein – jumped into the Top 10 and will advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round.

The fishing appears to be improving on the Chowan River and connected waters, or the anglers are just putting the puzzle pieces together better. Either way, things are looking good for a stellar finish to this event.

Connell expands areas

Connell’s Day 3 total was the fifth best on the day, made even more impressive by the fact that he was actively searching for new areas. Nothing he had previously fished was part of his plan on Thursday.

“I really like this place,” he said. “I went practicing all day and didn’t intend to reel them in like that. This place has a lot of fish, and I feel like I’m figuring this place out. I ran new stuff all day and maybe added 25% more to what I’d already found.”