Connell Conquers Cayuga Smallmouth to Win Second Event in 2022 - Major League Fishing

Connell Conquers Cayuga Smallmouth to Win Second Event in 2022

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Dustin Connell is the winner of Stage Six on Cayuga Lake, his second win of the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season. Photo by Garrick Dixon
August 11, 2022 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

UNION SPRING, N.Y. – For the second time in the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season, Dustin Connell is a champion. Connell is the winner of the Fox Rent A Car Stage Six Presented by Googan Baits on Cayuga Lake after catching 25 bass for 96 pounds, 12 ounces on Thursday to claim his second silver-and-red BPT trophy in six months.

Full Results

Smallmouth Carry Connell to Victory

Dustin Connell caught exclusively smallmouth during his Championship Round on Cayuga Lake. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Connell was clutch from start to finish on Cayuga, leading nearly the entirety of the finaly day and never surrendering his commanding lead. The only angler to really threaten Connell all day was second-place Jacob Wheeler, and he was only able to get within 16-3 of Connell when all was said and done.

Once again, it was all about smallmouth for Connell on Cayuga, this time for $100,000. All of his 25 scorable bass were of the brown variety. The Alabama pro knew that if he wanted to win his second event of the year, he was going to have to fish off the beaten path.

“I’m not a good grass fisherman, so I knew I was going to have to do something different,” Connell admitted. “I caught my first smallmouth of this tournament on a Googan Baits Drag N Drop and thought, ‘Oh wow.’ I decided then I was fully committed to smallmouth. To win the tournament on all smallmouth up here is just nuts.”

The win gives Connell three total on the Bass Pro Tour in his career — the two this year joining his REDCREST title in 2021. He now joins the likes of his good friend Wheeler and Ott DeFoe as the winningest anglers in the tour’s history. That fact is something Connell is still trying to grasp completely.

“It’s so special to win two of these in a year,” Connell said through appreciative tears. “I look at guys like Wheeler and Ott, and just to be considered as that caliber of a fisherman, it’s an honor. I’m just a kid out here living his dream.”

Wheeler Finishes Second, Increases Lead in AOY Race

Jacob Wheeler finished second on Cayuga but still increased his lead in the AOY race over Jordan Lee. Photo by Phoenix Moore

While Wheeler saw the chance at yet another victory slip away, he’ll leave western New York in a somewhat pleasant mood after notching another Top 10 finish in the 2022 season and increasing his lead in the Bally Bet Angler of the Year race. Wheeler now has earned five Top 10s in 2022, including two third-place and two second-place finishes.

Wheeler’s lead over Jordan Lee in the AOY race has increased from 38 points to 53 points. If Wheeler is able to secure a spot in the Knockout Round at Stage Seven on Mille Lacs Lake in September, he will clinch his second-straight AOY title, regardless of how Lee finishes.

Solid Finishes for Anglers Who Needed Them

Andy Montgomery’s top 5 finish boosted his chances at making REDCREST on his home lake.

While it was the usual suspects at the top of SCORETRACKER®, there were a number of anglers who grabbed much-needed Top 10 points on Cayuga Lake this week. Only the top 40 anglers in points will earn a qualification into REDCREST IV. With only one event remaining, these pros certainly helped themselves toward earning a trip to Lake Norman.

  • Andy Montgomery finished third on Cayuga, earning him 78 points. He came into Stage Six in 37th place for a REDCREST IV qualification, assuring him he will move up the ranks in pursuit of a berth in the big event on his home lake (Lake Norman).
  • Cody Meyer is another name who will benefit from his solid eighth-place finish, earning 73 points. He was 32nd in total points entering Stage Six.
  • Although he’s celebrating an AOY title from the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit this season, Michael Neal was in 24th place in the AOY standings on the Bass Pro Tour entering Stage Six. After a 10th-place finish on Thursday, he’s most certainly clinched his spot in REDCREST IV.

Daily Leaders

  • The Berkley Big Bass of the Day belonged to Dakota Ebare who landed a 7-10 smallmouth.
  • Connell had the most weight on SCORETRACKER® with 96-12.
  • Wheeler caught the most scorable bass with 26.