It was an emotional afternoon for Vineland, New Jersey pro Adrian Avena. After numerous seasons of watching his roommates and travel partners earn multiple wins and championship victories, the 12-year veteran finally earned his own red trophy. Avena caught eight scorable smallmouth bass Sunday, with his best five weighing 28 pounds, 10 ounces to win the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Five on Cayuga Lake Presented by ATG by Wrangler and earn the top payout of $100,000.
Avena’s two-day Knockout and Championship Round total of 10 bass weighing 58 pounds even earned him the victory by a 2-pound margin over second-place finisher Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who finished with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 56 pounds even, good for $45,000.
Over his four days of competition, Avena weighed in 20 smallmouth bass totaling 105 pounds even. Also breaking the 100-pound mark over four days were five other pros – Shuffield (106-10), Jacob Wheeler (100-8), Alton Jones Jr. (102-4), Matt Becker (102-0) and Kevin VanDam (102-2).
It was an incredible week of fishing that will likely be looked back on as the greatest smallmouth event in Bass Pro Tour history.
“You have no idea what this win means to me,” Avena said on stage in his post-game interview. “I travel and room with three of the best guys in the world, and I ain’t going to say that I got tired of them winning all the time, but man, it was starting to take a toll on me.
“I love them guys, and when you surround yourself with a house full of guys that are straight hammers it rubs off a little bit. But watching them boys win trophy after trophy… I’m just so glad that now I’ve got mine.”
Throughout the week Avena targeted bedding smallmouth, using a flogger to locate the bass and then drop-shotting a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm or a 4-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive Minnow. He threw the setup on an Abu Garcia Fantasista rod with a Abu Garcia Revo Rocket spinning reel.
“The Gulp minnow was the deal, but the key was the chartreuse top,” Avena said. “The chartreuse color was a big player this week. Also, I used a very small leader – getting my bait close to the bottom really mimicked those perch that were getting into their beds.
“Another big key was fishing deeper than everyone else,” Avena continued. “After you’d hook a smallmouth they’d shoot straight up, so I had to have a spinning reel setup with a very fast gear ratio. I used the Revos all week.”
Despite starting the day with a lead, Avena said that he was never comfortable throughout the final day of competition.
“I told myself this morning that I was not stopping on a fish that was under 5½ pounds, as I knew they wouldn’t win this tournament,” Avena said. “This lake is chock full of 4-pounders, and I passed up on so many of them todaybecause I knew they wouldn’t help. I didn’t catch a whole lot of bass today, but I caught the right ones that I needed.
“I have so many people to thank, that have believed in me from the start, and this just feels really good to be able to do this for them,” Avena went on to say. “My dad has a weak heart, and he’s always telling me, ‘Adrian, I want to see you win a tournament before I pass away.’ Well, pop, we got it done this week. I’m still shaking, and I am freaking stoked!”
The final 10 pros from the Favorite Fishing Stage Five at Cayuga Lake Presented by ATG by Wrangler finished:
1st: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 10 bass, 58-0, $100,000
2nd: Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 56-0, $45,000
3rd: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 55-2, $38,000
4th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 54-0, $32,000
5th: Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 10 bass, 53-8, $30,000
6th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 10 bass, 52-4, $26,000
7th: Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 52-0, $23,000
8th: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 10 bass, 51-15, $21,000
9th: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, 10 bass, 51-4, $19,000
10th: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 10 bass, 49-11, $16,000
Full results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 97 scorable bass totaling 459 pounds even weighed by the 10 pros on Sunday.