Neal Dominates Knockout Round, Final 10 Set at Bass Pro Tour Bally Bet Stage Seven at Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota
Sep 15th, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified Sep 15th, 2022 at 2:03 PM
Tennessee Pro Catches 20 Bass Weighing 77-2 to Win Knockout Round By Nearly Six Pounds, Final 10 Anglers Set for Thursday’s Final-Day Shootout for $100,000
ONAMIA, Minn. (Sept. 14, 2022) – Pro Michael Neal of Dayton, Tennessee, caught 20 scorable smallmouth bass weighing 77 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Knockout Round and advance to the final day of competition at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota in Onamia, Minnesota. The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition will resume Thursday morning with the Championship Round. Weights are zeroed, and the angler that catches the most weight will win the top prize of $100,000
The six-day tournament, hosted by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, showcases 80 of the best professional anglers in the world competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 to the winner. The tournament is livestreamed each day at MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MOTV app, and also filmed for television broadcast later this fall on the Discovery Channel.
The top eight pros from Wednesday’s Knockout Round that will compete in Thursday’s Championship Round on Mille Lacs Lake are:
1st: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 20 bass, 77-2
2nd: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 19 bass, 71-3
3rd: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 14 bass, 57-4
4th: James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 14 bass, 54-1
5th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 14 bass, 51-12
6th: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 14 bass, 51-6
7th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 14 bass, 49-5
8th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J, 13 bass, 46-13
They’ll be joined by Qualifying Round Winners:
Group A: Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala.
Group B: Alton Jones, Sr., Lorena, Texas
Full results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever won a Knockout Round before,” Neal said in his post-game interview. “It’s not necessarily the round that you want to win, but I can’t complain either way. I laid off my fish pretty quick into the second period and there is a lot more there, but who knows what the weather is going to do tomorrow.
“I’ve got one main area up on the north end of the lake that I’m catching all my fish,” Neal continued. “It’s really been anywhere from 10 to 16 feet, pretty much where you can find a mixture of some grass and one or two rocks mixed in. It’s a very specific cast and you’ve got to hit it. And with the wind, that was kind of a challenge today.”
Neal battled through the winds, throwing a couple of different baits. He mentioned his key bait this week has been a Big Bite Baits SoMolly finesse worm, fished on a drop-shot rig with 10-pound test Sunline SX1 braided line and 8-pound test Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon line and a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook.
“Tomorrow, it looks like we’re going to have the same kind weather, as far as the wind goes, and maybe even some rain,” Neal said. “I don’t know if that will push more fish to me or if it will scatter them out.
“Everybody is back to zero, all back to square one again, and it’s going to be a shootout,” Neal went on to say. “There are some great fishermen in this top 10, no doubt. I’m looking for somewhere around that 80-to-90-pound range probably to try to win tomorrow. Maybe even 100. I feel like I could have gotten to that mark today if I needed to, but tomorrow is going to be different. I’m just ready to come back out here. It’s been a lot of fun this week. We’ve caught a lot of fish, some big fish, and we’ve just got to do it one more day.”
Rounding out the top 40 finishers on Mille Lacs Lake were:
11th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 12 bass, 46-11, $10,000
12th: Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., 12 bass, 39-0, $10,000
13th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 12 bass, 38-8, $10,000
14th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 12 bass, 38-7, $10,000
15th: Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 11 bass, 37-15, $10,000
16th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., nine bass, 32-2, $10,000
17th: Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., nine bass, 32-0, $10,000
18th: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., nine bass, 31-6, $10,000
19th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., nine bass, 30-2, $10,000
20th: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, eight bass, 29-5, $10,000
21st: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., eight bass, 29-5, $10,000
22nd: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 29-4, $10,000
23rd: Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., eight bass, 29-0, $10,000
24th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., seven bass, 25-14, $10,000
25th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., nine bass, 25-4, $10,000
26th: Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., six bass, 24-11, $10,000
27th: Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., seven bass, 24-2, $10,000
28th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., six bass, 21-1, $10,000
29th: Jason Lambert, Michie, Tenn., six bass, 20-9, $10,000
30th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., six bass, 20-8, $10,000
31st: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 19-6, $10,000
32nd: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., four bass, 17-15, $10,000
33rd: Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., five bass, 16-13, $10,000
34th: Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 16-9, $10,000
35th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., six bass, 16-2, $10,000
36th: Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., three bass, 12-11, $10,000
37th: Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., four bass, 12-9, $10,000
38th: Shinichi Fukae, Osaka, Japan, four bass, 12-8, $10,000
39th: Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., zero bass, 0-0, $10,000
40th: Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., zero bass, 0-0, $10,000
Overall, there were 331 scorable bass weighing 1,188 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 36 pros Wednesday.
Texas pro Dakota Ebare earned the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award Wednesday, catching a 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth on a drop-shot rig in Period 1. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.
The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After the two-day Qualifying Round, the anglers that finished in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advanced to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advanced directly to Thursday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round weights were zeroed, and the remaining 38 anglers competed to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. Tomorrow, in the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
The final 10 anglers will launch on Championship Thursday at 7:30 a.m. CT from Eddy’s Resort, located at 41334 Shakopee Lake Road in Onamia. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Resort, beginning at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Also on Championship Thursday, Sept. 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will host a Celebration Event for fans of all ages, inviting fans to come out and celebrate with the professional anglers from the Bass Pro Tour as they crown the champion of the Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota. The first 50 youth anglers 10 and under in attendance will receive a free Pure Fishing Shakespeare Kid’s Rod and Reel combo. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
The Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota 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 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST IV, the Bass Pro Tour championship, which will be held next March on Lake Norman in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on Championship Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the Bally Bet Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake Presented by Minn Kota will premiere as a two-hour episode at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Nov. 19 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of tournament competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Covercraft, Favorite Fishing, Garmin, General Tire, Googan Baits, Grundéns, Guaranteed Rate, Humminbird, Lowrance, Luminox, Mercury, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak, Nitro Performance Boats, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop, Rapala, Starbrite, Toro, Toyota, Wrangler, Yellowstone Bourbon and Zoom.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and 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, 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 expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh, and immediately 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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