Hungry and Humble: Inside Sprague’s Stellar Season – MLF
Jun 3rd, 2019 by Keith Worrall
Modified Jun 3rd, 2019 at 12:21 PM
Jeff Sprague finished in eighth place during Elimination Round 1 and advanced to his seventh-straight Knockout Round. Photo by Garrick Dixon
By Mason Prince – June 3, 2019
BRANSON, Mo. – There aren’t many guarantees on the Bass Pro Tour, but Jeff Sprague making a Knockout Round is about as sure-fire as it gets. Another Elimination Round in the books, another Top-20 finish for the Texas pro, who is now a perfect 7-for-7 in Knockout Round appearances through seven stages in the 2019 season.
The Gene Larew pro boated a two-day total of 70 bass for 116 pounds, 2 ounces. That impressive weight was enough to give him an eighth-place finish and push him on to Tuesday’s Knockout Round once again. Sprague credits his success this season to a couple of key factors.
“I’m just hungry and making good decisions,” Sprague explained. “I’m just putting together strong patterns of what the fish seem to be doing.”
Itching for a Win
While he’s perfect in Knockout Round invitations, Sprague has punched his ticket to three Championship Rounds throughout the season. He was able to finish in second place behind Edwin Evers in Stage Two—the closest he’s come to a Bass Pro Tour trophy—but his first win still eludes him.
“I don’t know how I haven’t won a Stage championship yet,” Sprague said. “I feel like I’m on this pattern in every stage that I’m intercepting this fish in-between where they are and where they’re going. I don’t know if that’s a winning pattern, but I know it’s a strong pattern. It’s my strength right now.”
Game Recognize Game
Sprague is new to the MLF stage, but the “rookie” has made his presence known just five months into the inaugural Bass Pro Tour. Despite multiple top-10 finishes in the past and an impressive career leading up to his new MLF chapter, the Texas pro feels like he is finally getting notoriety for his fishing prowess.
“I’ve spent my whole life bass fishing and I feel like I’m finally getting recognized for my achievements,” Sprague admitted. “I spent time on other tours where I feel like my accomplishments weren’t really appreciated. While I’ve never won, I feel like I’ve always been very consistent. I really enjoy this MLF format because it’s like being a kid again. It has me excited to go fishing every day.”
Jeff Sprague caught this 3-6 during Elimination Round 1.
Putting the Fun Back in Fishing
Back when the Bass Pro Tour was in its early stages, Sprague was one of the last anglers to receive an invite to join the budding new league. When his phone rang, Sprague says he jumped at the chance to be a part of MLF, a decision he does not regret.
“When I got the call that I was going to be a part of the Bass Pro Tour, I have not come down off that high yet,” Sprague expressed. “Getting that call was like being a kid and going to Disneyland and being told you never have to leave. I love bass fishing, and this is the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life bass fishing. Period. End of story. When I’m having fun fishing, it comes easy to me. The less fun you have doing this, the harder you make it on yourself.”
It’s easy to have fun when you’re having a season like Sprague is having. Coming into the Bad Boy Mowers Stage Seven Presented by Covercraft, he was the Points Championship Leader with 417 points, three points ahead of Edwin Evers. Since a spot in the REDCREST Championship come August is pretty much guaranteed, Sprague has been able to take a look around, appreciate where he has come from while also appreciating the quality of the anglers that surround him.
“The fact that I get to be around the best anglers in the world every day, guys I’ve idolized and looked up to, is just amazing to me,” Sprague said. “I’m just humbled to be here because I get to be around these guys whose names are on the front of the bait packages I open. It’s just a great experience and I’m humbled to be a part of it. My heart is in it.”
Sprague is back on the waters of Table Rock Lake for the Knockout Round on Tuesday, June 4. He and the rest of the Top 20 pros from Group A await the Top 20 pros from Group B. You can watch all three periods of Elimination Round 2, beginning at 12 p.m. CT on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MLF mobile app.