Wheeler Leads Big Early for Group B at MLF Bass Pro Tour Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat
May 1st, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified May 1st, 2022 at 7:48 PM
Academy Sports + Outdoors Pro Catches 15 Scorable Bass Weighing 47 Pounds, 9 Ounces to Lead Group B by 16 Pounds – Group A to Wrap Up Qualifying Round Monday
OSAGE BEACH, Mo. (May 1, 2022) – The reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) is doing it again. Academy Sports + Outdoors pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, caught 15 scorable bass – five more than any other competitor – to jump out to the early lead in the Group B Qualifying Round at the Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat in Osage Beach, Missouri. Wheeler’s total of 47 pounds, 9 ounces will give him a 16-pound, 5-ounce lead over second-place angler James “Worldwide” Watson, the Lampe, Missouri, pro who caught 10 scorable bass weighing 31-4 to end the day in second place.
The six-day event, hosted by Central Missouri’s Tri-County Lodging Association, the Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Council and BassingBob.com, showcases 80 of the top pro bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner. The tournament is livestreamed each day at MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MOTV app, and also filmed for broadcast later this fall on the Discovery Channel.
The 40 anglers in Group B will now have an off day on Monday, while the 40 anglers competing in Group A will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition. Group B will conclude their Qualifying Round on Tuesday.
Wheeler struggled early, catching only two scorable bass in the first period. However, once the sun came out it helped Wheeler, and the other anglers sight-fishing, turn it on.
“Today was a really fun day – definitely no complaints here in the Academy boat,” Wheeler said in his postgame interview. “The first period was a struggle. But then the sun came out, and the sun is your friend when you’re using your eyes. My Wiley X signature series glasses were definitely a major key today. I truly believe I can see a little bit better than most anglers with these glasses.”
In addition to his sunglasses, Wheeler credited a Texas rig as being his key bait while sight-fishing.
“Another key today was the Texas rig – I was throwing white to more translucent, more green-pumpkin colors,” Wheeler said. “I was throwing them on my 7-foot, 3-inch (Duckett) Heavy Action Signature Series rod with 20-pound Sufix fluorocarbon line and a 4/0 VMC straight-shank hook. That sucker absolutely TKOs them.
“I didn’t catch any great big ones today, but I got a ton of really nice ones,” Wheeler went on to say. “I wanted to catch as much as I possibly could, and I’m very happy with how the day ended up. It was a great day, but now we’re going to see what the conditions are for Day 2 and go from there.”
The top 20 pros in Group B after Day 1 on Lake of the Ozarks are:
1st: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 15 bass, 47-9
2nd: James Watson, Lampe, Mo., 10 bass, 31-4
3rd: Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., nine bass, 30-11
4th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 27-14
5th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., eight bass, 25-6
6th: Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., eight bass, 24-7
7th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., eight bass, 24-6
8th: Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., seven bass, 24-1
9th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., nine bass, 22-0
10th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., seven bass, 21-6
11th: Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., five bass, 19-9
12th: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., seven bass, 19-5
13th: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., seven bass, 18-6
14th: Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., five bass, 16-15
15th: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., five bass, 16-1
16th: Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La., six bass, 15-10
17th: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 15-2
18th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 14-13
19th: Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, five bass, 14-8
20th: Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe., five bass, 13-6
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 205 scorable bass weighing 609 pounds, 4 ounces caught by the 40 pros Sunday, which included 29 four-pounders and six five-pounders.
Pro Stephen Browning of Hot Springs, Arkansas, earned Sunday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award after catching a 5-pound, 13-ounce largemouth in Period 1 that was the largest of the day. 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 compete 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 Grand Glaize Marina Recreation Area, located at 711 Public Beach Road in Osage Beach. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Marina, 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.
On Championship Thursday, May 5, from 4 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 Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat. The FREE, family-friendly event will be fun for fishing fans of all ages. The first 50 middle school or high school anglers will receive a free Abu Garcia rod and reel combo valued at $100. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, take selfies and participate in tackle giveaways.
The Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat 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 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 Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat will premiere as two two-hour episodes at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 15 and Saturday, Oct. 22 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, 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.
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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