(May 18, 2017 - La Crosse, WI)
Pro Matthew Stefan of Junction City, Wisconsin, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds even Thursday to sit atop the standings after Day One of the FLW Tour at the Mississippi River presented by Evinrude. Stefan will bring a slim 2-ounce advantage into Day Two of the four-day event that features 160 of the world’s top bass anglers competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
“I feel like the way I’m fishing is a lot different than what a lot of guys would probably expect,” said Stefan, a seven-year Tour veteran who is one of three Wisconsin residents competing in the event. “I live on the Wisconsin River, which is literally a mini-Mississippi River, and what I’m doing right now is exactly what I would be doing back home. It’s not anything crazy or off-the-wall, but it’s not what a lot of people would go to right off the bat.”
Stefan said he began his day in Pool No 8. He caught a couple of keepers before locking down to Pool No. 9 around 7:30 a.m. where he was able to finish off his first limit. Around 10:30 a.m., he said he returned to Pool No. 8 where he was able to cull some earlier bites.
“I’m keying in on the smallmouth – I think I’ve got a decent pattern,” said Stefan. “I didn’t really find much for largemouth in practice. I was able to get them to bite, but they were random and didn’t have good size to them.”
Stefan said he was able to put a dozen keepers in his boat throughout the day, and that his knowledge of the region’s smallmouth migration helped him do it.
“The one thing I’ve learned over the years about the Mississippi River is that if you want to compete here, you’ve got to understand the migration routes,” said Stefan. “It’s a little bit different for largemouth and smallmouth. For smallmouth, you’ve got the migration from the main-river channel to their spawning zones. Whether it’s the main channel or two miles into a backwater, you’ve got specific holding areas in those routes. If you can get an idea of those routes, you can track them.”
Stefan said he plans on starting Day Two of the event in Pool No. 8, and would prefer to stay there if he can get the right bites.
“If I can catch the weight I need to make the top-20 cut I may not go down to No. 9 and save those areas for the rest of the weekend,” said Stefan. “But, if the morning doesn’t go as planned, I’ll make the run in a heartbeat.”
The top 10 pros after day one on the Mississippi River are:
1st: Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., five bass, 18-0
2nd: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 17-14
3rd: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., five bass, 16-11
3rd: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 16-11
5th: Yamamoto Baits pro Matt Greenblatt, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 16-1
6th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 15-14
7th: Polaris pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 15-13
7th: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, five bass, 15-13
9th: Cody Meyer, Auburn, Calif., five bass, 15-9
9th: Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., five bass, 15-9
Weaver caught a bass weighing 4 pounds, 15 ounces – the largest in the Pro Division – which earned him the day's $500 Big Bass award.
Overall there were 736 bass weighing 1,855 pounds, 11 ounces caught by 159 pros Thursday. The catch included 128 five-bass limits.
Tim Beale of Hernando, Mississippi, leads the Co-angler Division with five bass weighing 15 pounds, 8 ounces, followed by Cody Hackett of Stoddard, Wisconsin, in second place with five bass totaling 13 pounds, 6 ounces.
The top 10 co-anglers after day one on the Mississippi River are:
1st: Tim Beale, Hernando, Miss., five bass, 15-8
2nd: Cody Hackett, Stoddard, Wis., five bass, 13-6
3rd: Casey Goode, La Crosse, Wis., five bass, 13-4
4th: Caleb Kuphall, Mukwonago, Wis., five bass, 12-9
5th: Cole Herb, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, five bass, 12-8
6th: David Goodyear, Beloit, Wis., four bass, 12-6
7th: Matthew Frisk, Sparta, Wis., five bass, 12-3
7th: Carlton Thompkins, Myrtle Beach, S.C., five bass, 12-3
9th: Richie Eaves, Nauvoo, Ill., five bass, 11-15
10th: Jeff Cox, Saline, Mich., five bass, 11-14
Goodyear earned $250 for the Big Bass award in the Co-angler Division with a 4-pound, 3-ounce fish.
Overall there were 409 bass weighing 907 pounds, 2 ounces caught by 143 co-anglers Thursday. The catch included 32 five-bass limits.
In FLW Tour competition, pros and co-anglers are randomly paired each day, with pros supplying the boat, controlling boat movement and competing against other pros. Co-anglers fish from the back deck against other co-anglers. The full field competes in the two-day opening round. Co-angler competition concludes following Friday’s weigh-in, while the top 20 pros based on their two-day accumulated weight advance to Saturday. Only the top 10 pros continue competition Sunday, with the winner determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from the four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2017 Forrest Wood Cup, the world championship of professional bass fishing. The 2017 Forrest Wood Cup will be on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina, Aug. 11-13.
The total purse for the FLW Tour at Mississippi River presented by Evinrude is more than $800,000, including $10,000 through 50th place in the Pro Division. The tournament is hosted by Explore La Crosse.
Competitors will take off at 6:30 a.m. CDT each day from Veterans Freedom Park, located at 1 Clinton St., in La Crosse. Friday’s weigh-in will be held at Veterans Freedom Park beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday’s weigh-ins will also be held at Veterans Freedom Park, but will begin at 4 p.m.
Prior to the weigh-ins Saturday and Sunday, fans are invited to experience the free Fishing Expo at Veterans Freedom Park from noon to 4 p.m. The Expo is a unique opportunity for fishing fans to meet their favorite anglers, enjoy interactive games, activities and giveaways provided by FLW sponsors, and learn more about the sport of fishing and other outdoor activities.
Youth are also invited to participate in the free FLW Foundation’s Unified Fishing Derby at Copeland Park, located at 1130 Copeland Park Drive in La Crosse, on Saturday, May 20, from 9-11 a.m. The event, hosted by FLW Foundation pro Cody Kelley along with other FLW Tour anglers, is free and open to area youth (18 years of age and younger) and Special Olympics athletes (all ages). Rods and reels are available for the first 50 participants to use, but youth are encouraged to bring their own if they own one.
Television coverage of the FLW Tour at Mississippi River presented by Evinrude will premiere in high-definition (HD) on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) Aug. 2 from Noon-1 p.m. EDT. The Emmy-nominated "FLW" television show airs on NBCSN, the Pursuit Channel and the World Fishing Network and is broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, making it the most widely distributed weekly outdoors-sports television show in the world.
For complete details and updated information visit FLWFishing.com.
FLW is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, providing anglers of all skill levels the opportunity to compete for millions in prize money in 2017 across five tournament circuits. Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, with offices in Minneapolis, FLW conducts more than 274 bass-fishing tournaments annually across the United States and sanctions tournaments in Canada, China, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea. FLW tournament fishing can be seen on the Emmy-nominated “FLW" television show, broadcast to more than 564 million households worldwide, while FLW Bass Fishing magazine delivers cutting-edge tips from top pros.