Wheeler Coasts to Qualifying Round Win at MLF Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns
Feb 22nd, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified Feb 22nd, 2022 at 4:40 PM
Academy Sports + Outdoors Pro Smashes Two Day Total of 30 Bass Weighing 121 Pounds to Advance Straight to Thursday’s Championship Round, 19 Anglers Advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round
QUITMAN, Texas (Feb. 21, 2022) – Academy Sports + Outdoors pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, caught 16 scorable bass weighing 64 pounds, 9 ounces to earn the win Monday during the Group A Qualifying Round at the MLF Bass Pro Tour Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns in Quitman, Texas.
Wheeler’s two-day Qualifying Round catch of 30 bass totaling 121 pounds even earned him the win by a wide 47-pound, 9-ounce margin over Bass Pro Shops angler Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who caught a two-day total of 22 bass weighing 74-9 to finish in second place. Pro Keith Poche of Pike Road, Alabama, caught a two-day total of 17 bass weighing 68-5 to finish the round in third, while Toro pro Jeff Sprague of Wills Point, Texas , ended the round in fourth place with a two-day total of 16 bass for 56-14. Rounding out the top five was Favorite Fishing pro Jonathon VanDam, who caught 12 bass for 56-0 to advance in fifth place.
The six-day event, hosted by the Lake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce, the Wood County EDC, the Sabine River Authority and the Rains County Tourism Board, showcases 80 of the top professional bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner.
“It feels great to win and advance straight to the Championship Round,” said Wheeler, who will advance to his ninth Championship Round appearance in the last 11 Bass Pro Tour events. “It’s good to start the season off where we left it last season. Momentum is everything in bass fishing – everything in any sport. Right now, our old buddy ‘Mo’ seems to be looking out for us.”
Like Day 1, Wheeler spent his day throwing various jerkbaits to isolated timber, using his forward-facing sonar to key in on specific targets.
“Realistically, it came down to Jerkbait Fishing 101,” Wheeler said in his post-game interview. “I caught a lot of fish today on a lot of different jerkbaits, but I ended up really focusing on more of the pearl-translucent colored ones. That seemed to be the deal for me today.
“I’m excited to get back out there for the Championship Round,” Wheeler went on to say. “I’m going to regroup and prepare for a cold day on the water on Thursday. There should be some giants caught.”
The top 20 anglers from Group A will now have an off day from competition, while the 40 anglers competing in Qualifying Group B will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition Tuesday. The Knockout Round, featuring 38 anglers competing to finish in the top eight, will take place Wednesday. Thursday’s Championship Round will feature Wheeler, Tuesday’s Group B winner, and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round competing in a final-day shootout for the top prize of $100,000.
The top 20 pros in Qualifying Group A that now advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round on Lake Fork are:
1st: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 30 bass, 121-0
2nd: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 22 bass, 74-9
3rd: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 17 bass, 68-5
4th: Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, 16 bass, 56-14
5th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 12 bass, 56-0
6th: Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 16 bass, 55-10
7th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 12 bass, 54-6
8th: Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., 15 bass, 53-10
9th: James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 13 bass, 52-10
10th: Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La., 15 bass, 47-14
11th: Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 17 bass, 46-8
12th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 10 bass, 45-12
13th: Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 11 bass, 44-1
14th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 11 bass, 40-2
15th: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., 12 bass, 39-2
16th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 12 bass, 38-4
17th: Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., 12 bass, 37-15
18th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., 11 bass, 36-13
19th: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, nine bass, 35-8
20th: Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., seven bass, 34-4
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 185 scorable bass weighing 687 pounds, 5 ounces caught by 39 pros Monday. The catch included five 7-pounders, four 8-pounders and one 10-pounder.
Knoxville, Tennessee’s Brandon Coulter caught a 10-pound, 2-ounce bass in Period 3, throwing a bladed swimjig near stumps and timber to earn the day’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award. 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 each two-day qualifying round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Thursday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 38 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 launch each day at 7:30 a.m. from the Oak Ridge Marina, located at 2949 TX-154 in Quitman, Texas. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Marina, beginning at 4:30 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.
The Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns will feature 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 the REDCREST 2023 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 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 Toro Stage Two on Lake Fork Presented by Grundéns will premiere at 7 a.m. ET, Sept. 17 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 competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, BallyBet, 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.
About Major League Fishing
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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