As the 2022 Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour approaches the halfway point, we check in on the developments and preview the rest of the season.
It's hard to believe, but the Bass Pro Tour season is nearly halfway done. A stacked early season schedule has already put three regular-season events in the books out of seven for the year. REDCREST is in the rearview mirror and one more special event, Heavy Hitters, will take place this week.
Through four events, some trends have emerged. Here's the midseason review of the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season.
Wheeler Still Rolling
Jacob Wheeler appeared unstoppable last season, winning three events and Angler of the Year. He's having another impressive start to this season. Although he's yet to take home a trophy, he's finished in the Top 10 in every event.
It's seems like only a matter of time before Wheeler wins again and he's a favorite to do it at every stop, no matter the season or fishery type. Even with his great start to the year, he trails Jordan Lee in the Angler of the Year points race. If we're lucky, it will be a tight battle to the end of the season between two of the brightest stars in bass fishing.
The Winner Trends
All of the Bass Pro Tour anglers have had great careers, but 2022 has been particularly memorable for several anglers as they claimed their first tour-level wins.
Kentucky's Bradley Roy started his pro career as a 19-year old on the Bassmaster Elite Series back in 2010, and he's been at it ever since as a pro angler. Now 31, he claimed his first big win at Stage One. Immediately after that event, Alton Jones, Jr. won his first tour-level event.
The third stop on Smith Lake saw Dustin Connell claim his first regular-season win on the Bass Pro Tour after winning REDCREST last season and this year's REDCREST Champion is Bobby Lane, with his first BPT win and first tour-level triumph since 2009.
Bounce Back Seasons
It's still early enough in the season that things could change, but several anglers are primed to have tremendous bounce-back seasons after tough showings last time around.
One of the most dramatic has been Alabama's Randy Howell, who sits in 5th place in the points after a 74th place finish last year. He's been on a roll to start the year; he's fishing with purpose and catching some giant bass.
Three others who are in an excellent position to make REDCREST after subpar seasons last year are Randall Tharp (10th place this year after 66th last season), Tommy Biffle (29th after 62nd in 2021), and Marty Robinson, who sits in 32nd after ending last year in 73rd.
Big Bass Galore
This season started with a bang in Louisiana when Randy Howell set the Major League Fishing big bass record with a 10-11 on Caney Creek, and then broke it a day later with his 12-15 from Bussey Brake. Those big bass fireworks were impressive and continued into the next event on Lake Fork. Five anglers caught double-digit bass there, headlined by Bradley Roy's 11-11.
Those giants have significantly impacted next year's Heavy Hitters qualifications. That event counts the biggest bass from each angler over all of the regular-season events and puts them into a ranking.
After three events, Randy Howell leads with 23-15, followed by Bradley Roy at 23-3, and 2021 Heavy Hitters Champion Alton Jones is third with 22-10. Mark Daniels, Jr. holds the current 30th and last qualifying spot with 14-11.
Rookies Playing Ball
This year, six new anglers joined the Bass Pro Tour after success on the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit last season. They've all had some moments of success and several are within range to qualify for next year's REDCREST. They have proven that they have what it takes to compete at this level.
Dakota Ebare has had the best start, highlighted by a second-place finish on Lake Fork. He's in 22nd place in the points race and has made his name well-known on tour as a threat to win in just three events. Jeremy Lawyer is currently in 31st and Cole Floyd is 40th, the last qualifying spot for REDCREST.
The final three rookies are Ryan Salzman (47th), Dylan Hays (57th), and Clabion Johns (67th), and each of them could make it with a solid second half to the season.
The MLF season is right about halfway through and it's been a great one so far, with plenty of big bass and exciting storylines. Time will tell what the second half has in store.