The 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour is officially underway.
With a slow finish in the final period of Stage One of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, Bradley Roy was able to hang on for the first tournament title of his career Sunday.
The season kicked off in West Monroe, Louisiana, on a trio of different lakes. Lake d'Arbonne hosted the first four fishing days for the qualifying rounds, and the top 19 anglers from each group made their way to Caney Creek Reservoir for the Knockout Round.
The top eight anglers from that day of fishing advanced to the final day on Bussey Brake Lake, along with the winners of the qualifying rounds.
As the anglers arrived in Lousiana for the week, they were greeted with frigid air temperatures in the 20s. As the event progressed, both the weather and the fishing heated up.
Lake d'Arbonne Qualifying Rounds
On the Bass Pro Tour, the 80-angler field is split into two groups of 40, Group A and Group B. Each fish twice during the qualifying rounds, with groups rotating on alternate days. The top anglers advance to the next rounds.
The cold Louisiana weather proved to be a test for the anglers on Lake d'Arbonne, a lake with stained water and countess cypress trees and stumps. Navigating the fishery was hazardous and the fishing was just as tricky, with some anglers posting zeroes or daily catches of one or two bass.
Figuring out the puzzle the best was Alabama pro Mark Daniels, Jr and Georgia pro Jared Lintner, who each won their respective group and advanced to the Championship Round. Daniels scored 16 bass for 33 pounds, five ounces over two days. Lintner had 18 for 47-5.
Knockout Round on Caney Creek
Even though Caney Creek Reservoir is just over an hour away from d'Arbonne, it's a much different fishery. Roughly a third of the size, Caney Creek has much cleaner water and plenty of grass. It has a long history of big bass, with the Louisiana state record largemouth of 15.97 pounds coming from the reservoir in February 1994, along with many other double-digit bass.
It didn't take long for the big bass to show up as Randy Howell caught a 10-11 in the first period, along with other anglers latching onto quality bass over 7 pounds. The winner for the day was Jacob Wheeler, with 43-7 for nine bass. Included in his creel were two over 7 pounds and two more over 6 pounds.
Championship Round on Bussey Brake Lake
The final 10 anglers took to the small Bussey Brake Lake, a lake that just re-opened roughly two years ago after a lengthy rehabilitation by the state. It has plenty of good cover and big Florida-strain largemouth bass.
The lake is full of wood, with trees under the water just about everywhere you look. With so much cover in the water, flipping and pitching baits dominated the event, with nearly every fish caught during the final day succumbing to those techniques.
Kentucky angler Bradley Roy took the win. He's enjoyed a solid career for over a decade without a victory until now. He was able to catch five bass for 26-2, including a giant 8-14 fish that he landed during a midday bite window that produced four of his fish. He failed to catch a single bass in the final period, clung to the lead for the entire afternoon, and held on for the win. Roy caught his fish with a black and blue Missile Baits D-Bomb.
Second place was veteran Texas pro Alton Jones, who caught five bass for 24-15, including a big bass that weighed 9 pounds even. His success also came flipping and pitching shallow wood.
Third place was Jordan Lee, with five fish for 24-9. Lee caught his bass flipping and pitching a ½-ounce black and blue jig to the plethora of shallow wood.
Making the most noise on the day, though, was Alabama pro Randy Howell, who caught a 12-15 giant late in the day. It marked his personal best, set just one day earlier on Caney Creek, and became the new Major League Fishing record holder for the largest bass caught in competition. The fish bit a 5-inch black and blue Yamamoto Senko.
The Bass Pro Tour returns next week in Texas on famed Lake Fork. The big bass factory has the chance to provide more fireworks and produce giant bass, as it has done for anglers for decades.
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