Justin Lucas Grabs Early Group B Lead at MLF Bass Pro Tour Toyota Stage Six at Lake Champlain Presented by Googan Baits
Aug 8th, 2021 by Keith Worrall
Modified Aug 8th, 2021 at 12:38 PM
Guntersville, Alabama Pro Catches 15 Bass Totaling 50 Pounds, 2 Ounces to Lead Group B’s Qualifying Round, Group A to Finish Their Qualifying Round Saturday
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (Aug. 6, 2021) – Berkley pro Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Alabama, caught 15 scorable bass Friday weighing 50 pounds, 2 ounces, to grab the early lead in Group B after their Day 1 Qualifying Round at the Toyota Stage Six at Lake Champlain Presented by Googan Baits in Plattburgh, New York. Lucas will bring a 5-pound, 15-ounce lead into Group B’s Qualifying Round finale on Sunday.
Right behind Lucas in second place is Knoxville, Tennessee pro Brandon Coulter, who held the lead for most of the day before Lucas overtook him in the third period. Coulter boated 18 bass totaling 47-15. Rounding out the top three was Toro pro Jeff Sprague of Point, Texas, who caught 17 bass for 44-1 to end the day in third.
The 39 anglers in Group B will now have a day off on Saturday, while the 34 anglers in Group A will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition. Group B will conclude their Qualifying Round on Sunday. The six-day event, hosted by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau and the City of Plattsburgh, features the top professional anglers from around the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner.
“It was a good day today, especially considering that I didn’t catch anything in the first hour and a half,” Lucas said in his post-game interview. “We’ve got a lot of work left to do, though. We’re only halfway done to win this round. If I can win on Sunday and advance straight to the Championship Round, well, you never know what can happen there.”
Lucas said that he drop-shotted throughout the day, targeting smallmouth in 20 to 35 feet of water.
“It’s no real secret what I’m doing,” Lucas said. “I’m drop-shotting on these big smallmouth with a Berkley (PowerBait) MaxScent Flat Worm, of course. I’m fishing a bunch of different mixture-type spots – some have gravel, some have rock, some have sand, and some even have a little bit of grass. But the key is the bait. And they’re not far from where they spawn.
“When you get in those areas, if you can hit those little windows when they’re in there biting, you can put a bunch of weight up quick, like we did today,” Lucas went on to say. “Hopefully these spots can get some rest, and not get pounded too hard tomorrow. There really wasn’t that many guys fishing them today, so that kind of has me excited. Hopefully the sun will warm that water up and keep moving these fish out. That’d be really, really nice.”
While Lucas gained the lead late in the day with his afternoon smallmouth bite, pro Brandon Coulter had held the lead for most of the day on the strength of largemouth.
“I had a good day, I just came out of the gate really hot,” Coulter said. “I’ve been doing that a lot lately. I think I led early on most of the days at St. Lawrence. I’m just having trouble closing it out and I’m frustrated right now. I had the chance to really put some distance on second place today, and instead I let Justin come in and take the lead. And kudos to Justin. I mean, that kid is phenomenal. But a lot is going to come into play in these next two days.
“The good news is, despite my frustrations I was blessed today, and I love this place. This is my favorite place in the world to fish. I guess we’ll just have to see how things play out on Sunday morning. I had elbow surgery last year, and it ended my season early. To be able to come back and be hammering them now on a 7-foot, 11-inch Savage Gear Black Ops Heavy Flipping Stick, not on a spinning rod, is awesome. The elbow is good, it’s healthy and it sure feels good to set the hook on a few.”
The top 20 pros in Group B after Day 1 on Lake Champlain are:
1st: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 15 bass, 50-2
2nd: Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., 17 bass, 44-3
3rd: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 16 bass, 44-1
4th: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 15 bass, 38-0
5th: Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., 13 bass, 37-9
6th: Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 13 bass, 37-0
7th: Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, 13 bass, 36-3
8th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 13 bass, 33-11
9th: Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 32-0
10th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 11 bass, 31-4
11th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 10 bass, 29-4
12th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., nine bass, 28-11
13th: Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 10 bass, 28-3
14th: Shaw Grigsby, Gainesville, Fla., 10 bass, 27-12
15th: Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., 10 bass, 27-11
16th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., eight bass, 27-7
17th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., eight bass, 26-4
18th: Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, eight bass, 23-11
19th: Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, eight bass, 22-14
20th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., seven bass, 21-6
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 320 bass weighing 920 pounds, 12 ounces caught by the 39 pros on Friday.
Shaw Grigsby won the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award Friday, weighing in a 5-pound, 14-ounce largemouth bass on a worm during Period 3. Berkley will award $1,000 to the angler who weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.
The MLF Bass Pro Tour Toyota Stage Six at Lake Champlain Presented by Googan Baits is hosted by the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau and the City of Plattsburgh.
MLF announced earlier this week that the normal 80-angler Bass Pro Tour field would be reduced to 73 for this event, as seven anglers withdrew from competition for undisclosed reasons. After consulting with the MLF Angler Advisory Board, a slight change was made to the Qualifying Round Toro Cut Lines due to the unbalanced angler groupings.
The 34 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Lake Champlain on Thursday and Saturday – the 39 anglers in Group B on Friday and Sunday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 17th place from Group A (50% of field) and 2nd through 20th place from Group B (50% of field) advance to Monday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Tuesday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed and the remaining 35 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
Anglers will take off from the Plattsburgh City Marina, located at 2 Dock St., in Plattsburgh, at 8 a.m. ET each day of competition. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will also be held at the Launch Ramp, beginning at 5 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all takeoff and takeout ceremonies and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
MLF officials have divided the lake into two zones in which anglers will compete – Zone A (north end of lake) and Zone B (south end of lake – Ticonderoga area). Anglers choosing to fish in Zone B must go through the normal takeoff procedure at the Plattsburgh Boat Launch and then trailer to a public ramp within Zone B. Anglers will depart the Boat Launch at 8 a.m., and competition will start with “lines in” at 9 a.m.
The Toyota Stage Six at Lake Champlain Presented by Googan Baits features anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 76 of the top professional anglers in the world – joined at each event by 4 pros that qualify from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit – competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2022 championship.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the Toyota Stage Six at Lake Champlain Presented by Googan Baits will premiere at 7 a.m. ET, Nov. 6 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel and the Sportsman Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
For complete details and updated information on the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, the Sportsman Channel and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019 MLF acquired FLW and rebranded it as MLF BIG5, which expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh and immediate release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.
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