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Stefan Wins MLF Invitational on Mississippi River

After numerous top-ten finishes in his Major League Fishing Career, Matt Stefan is now a champion earning the victory on June 27, at the upper Mississippi River in Lacrosse, WI. He locked down the win and a $80,000 paycheck by catching a total weight of 48 pounds, 6 ounces over his three days of fishing.

The Wisconsin pro started the event in fourth place with 16 pounds, 8 ounces after day one, and stayed consistent on day two weighing in 16 pounds, 6 ounces to move into second place. When the dust settled on the final day, Stefan’s 15 pounds, 8 ounces was enough to secure the victory after a close call at the lock that almost cost him the win.

With barge traffic not expected, the group of anglers fishing Pool 7 were uneasy as they made their way back on the final day and noticed a barge working through the lock. Several of the top anglers knew it was going to be close, and 90 minutes later, they raced back and made it safely with just a minute to spare.

“I thought the event was over when I saw that barge,” said Stefan. “I had a good day and was thinking I was going to be dumping my fish back in the river and missing my chance at victory. I have worked for something like this my entire career and to finally secure a tour-level win justifies the effort – I needed this victory.”

Matt Stefan lands a key bass on the Mississippi River / Photo by Hunter Rud – MLF


Stefan focused his efforts on a one-mile stretch of river and until day one of the event, he had no idea what the potential may be. With added pressure, the fishing was tough overall and he found the fish to be a bit finicky.

When he was unsuccessful with reaction-style baits or power-fishing techniques, he knew exactly what to do. Each day, he probed the mile-long area with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent The General and changed colors based on the conditions.

“If it was cloudy, I went with the black and blue; If it was sunny, I fished the green pumpkin color,” added Stefan.” I was just throwing the 5-inch General in the holes, really keying in on any small holes within the eelgrass or on the outside edges.”

Stefan’s impressive victory has solidified his professional fishing journey and marks a turning point in his career.