After breaking nearly every major weight record on the Bass Pro Tour this week, Academy Sports + Outdoors pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, added another accolade to his resume Wednesday. Wheeler caught 35 scorable bass weighing 129 pounds even to earn his fourth career Bass Pro Tour victory â€“ the most all-time â€“ and the top prize of $100,000 at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley in Massena, New York.
Among the Bass Pro Tour records that Wheeler set this week was the single-day heaviest weight â€“ 165 pounds, 1 ounce, that he weighed on Day 1 â€“ the heaviest two-day qualifying round weight â€“ 222 pounds, 1 ounce â€“ and the most weight ever weighed in a Championship Round â€“ 129 pounds even â€“ that he set Wednesday. With his latest victory, the 30-year-old pro pushed his career earnings to more than $2.6 million.
“I was fortunate to have a solid practice for this event. I didn’t know what I could catch, and I didn’t know what it would take to win, because it was so crazy out here on the St. Lawrence River,” Wheeler said. “To officially be the champion… I don’t think I’ve ever won on smallmouth on a natural river system, so this feels unbelievable.”
While the final tally on SCORETRACKER ® may seem as though it was an easy win for Wheeler, the Tennessee pro found himself in seventh place after a slow start Period 1 with only five smallmouth for 21-8. As he prepared to start his afternoon, Wheeler made the decision to run to an area he found while practicing during his final Qualifying Round.
Thanks to a more than 30-pound cushion in that round, Wheeler was able to scout new areas and find fish for the Championship Round. They were also fish that he knew he could count on because of the area they were located.
“I was looking for fish in the places that had the most wind, because I knew that those areas wouldn’t be fished as much,” Wheeler explained. “I knew that if I was going to have two days off the water that I was going to need to find fish that would be there when I got back in the Championship Round, so I found a spot that was getting beat on by the wind out of the southwest a ton. I knew other guys wouldn’t want to mess with that area because if it was windy like it was, the waves wouldn’t be fun to deal with for flogging and sight fishing.
“I’ve been in a handful of situations like this one right here, and there is nothing like a plan coming together perfectly,” Wheeler went on to say. “I cherish every single win, every single top-10. It’s something that you’re never guaranteed so you have to make sure to take a step back and appreciate these moments. This one right here was special. I cannot wait to celebrate with my wife and my little one.”
Toro pro Jeff Sprague of Point, Texas, matched his career-best finish on the Bass Pro Tour with his second-place showing at the event.
“Finished in second, so close once again,” Sprague said in his post-game interview. “One of these days we’re going to figure out how to win one of these events. But I’m still super excited about my finish this week. We fished extremely hard today, I even ran around this morning and fished new water and tried to make something happen. It was a crazy, amazing week here in New York and I’m thrilled to bank another top-10 finish.”
The top 10 pros at the Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River finished:
- Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 35 bass, 129-0, $100,000
- Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, 26 bass, 100-6, $45,000
- Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 31 bass, 91-1, $38,000
- Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 28 bass, 86-15, $32,000
- Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 27 bass, 86-15, $30,000
- Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 25 bass, 84-1, $26,000
- Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 24 bass, 83-2, $23,000
- Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 17 bass, 73-14, $21,000
- Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 13 bass, 46-2, $19,000
- John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 12 bass, 38-3, $16,000
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 238 bass weighing 819 pounds, 11 ounces caught by the final 10 pros on Wednesday.
Wheeler also won Wednesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing a 6-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth on a drop-shot rig in Period 1 to earn the prize. Lucas earned the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the largest bass of the event with his 6-pound, 13-ounce smallmouth that he weighed on Day 1 of competition.
th place and did not qualify for Wednesday’s Championship Round, but his finish was strong enough to maintain his lead in the MLF Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year standings. With two events remaining in the season, DeFoe currently sits with 352 points and owns a 10-point lead over the second-place pro, California’s Brent Ehrler (342). Wheeler remains in third with 338, followed by Florida’s Bobby Lane in fourth place with 311 and Alabama’s Justin Lucas in fifth place with 309. Full AOY standings for the entire Bass Pro Tour field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.