Rookie Becker Wins First Bass Pro Tour Title and AOY on Same Day

Despite inclement weather and a stacked field on Championship Sunday, Favorite Fishing pro Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tennessee weighed a five-bass limit totaling 22 pounds, 11 ounces to earn his first Bass Pro Tour win and the top award of $100,000 at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Minn Kota Stage Seven at Saginaw Bay Presented by Suzuki. Becker’s two-day total of 10 bass weighing 40-9 earned him the win by a whopping 5-pound, 1-ounce margin over the winningest angler of all time, Bass Pro Shops pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who was competing in his last Bass Pro Tour event before retirement, and finished in second with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 35-8.

Coming into the final event of the season at Saginaw Bay, Becker, Jacob Wheeler and Ott DeFoe were separated by only three points in the Bass Pro Tour Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) race, and while all three pros were still in contention late into the final day, it was Becker who moved up from fourth place to clinch the AOY title and take home an additional $100,000.

“I’ve always wanted to win an Angler of the Year trophy, so that was my ultimate goal coming into this event,” said an emotional Becker. “I’m just a poor kid from Pittsburgh, but this was my dream, and I just can’t believe we did it. Anything is possible through Christ, I’ll tell you guys that. If I can do it, anybody can.”

“This whole day has been such a blur, it’s just unbelievable,” said Becker. “We went out this morning with a slim chance at winning AOY, but that’s what has been on my mind all week. I hadn’t really even thought about winning the tournament, I was just super focused on winning AOY. To me, that is the pinnacle of the season. The best, over seven tournaments, all across the country.

“About half-way through the second period, I realized we could win this tournament and AOY, and I still can’t believe it actually happened,” said Becker. “I expanded to a different area yesterday during the Knockout Round where I’d only had one bite during practice. I went out there at the end of the first period yesterday and started getting a couple bites and caught a decent bag that put me in fifth place and advanced me to the Championship Round.”

Becker spent most of Championship Sunday in the mid-section of Saginaw Bay, around Charity Island.

“This morning I started out a little close to the ramp, but about halfway through the first period I moved out to Charity Island,” said Becker. “I’d found a stretch out there during the Knockout Round, and it didn’t take long for me to find this magic sweet spot. It wasn’t very big, but it had one little school of only about 10 to 15 smallmouth– but they were all 4 to 5 pounds.

“I still don’t know why they were there or what they were doing, but I just happened to stumble onto them and ended up catching 22 pounds pretty quick,” continued Becker. “It was just incredible.”

Becker was using a 7-foot, 2-inch medium-heavy Favorite Fishing Hex Rod, throwing a drop-shot rig with a Yamamoto Shad Shape worm in a custom color you can only get through FishUSA.com. with 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid and a 10-pound Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon leader. FishUSA has a huge inventory of the color coming for a restock as it sold out after Becker’s win, so you can order now with confidence and they will ship as soon as their shipment arrives.

“I typically throw the natural shad color, but with the water being a little bit dirty and especially with it being so cloudy and dark today, I went with Becker’s Magic Juice which is an exclusive color I designed with Yamamoto and Billy Hines at FishUSA,” said Becker. “That’s a color I designed specifically for tournaments like this, so to win the tournament and AOY on the bait that I designed is just incredible.

Winning bait was Becker’s Magic Juice Yamamoto Shad Shape Worm exclusive to FishUSA.com.

“This is the best field of professional anglers in the game, no doubt,” Becker continued. “This field is stacked, and that’s exactly why I wanted to be on the Bass Pro Tour – I wanted to fish against the best anglers in the world and see if I could prove myself and compete with them.

“Showing up to the first event this year, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never really fished much against Wheeler or VanDam or any of the greats in the sport, so I was kind of curious how I would be able to compete against this field.

“I had an average finish at the first event in Florida, but it’s really just been uphill ever since,” said Becker. “I’ve finished with four top 10’s in the last six tournaments, so that’s been a really good way to end the season.”

The top 10 pros from the Minn Kota Stage Seven at Saginaw Bay Presented by Suzuki finished:

  1. Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 40-9, $100,000
  2. Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 10 bass, 35-8, $45,000
  3. Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 10 bass, 34-7, $38,000
  4. Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 10 bass, 32-9, $32,000
  5. Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 32-9, $30,000
  6. Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 10 bass, 31-14, $26,000
  7. Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 10 bass, 31-9, $23,000
  8. Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 31-8, $21,000
  9. Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 30-9, $19,000
  10. Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, 10 bass, 29-5, $16,000

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Becker's Magic Juice Shad Shape Worm was the winning bait at Saginaw Bay.

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