TYLER, Texas – What began as a slow morning on Lake Palestine for the 2022 General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops, began to heat up once the 16 anglers competing in Group A started to locate some East Texas bass. The opening salvos have been fired on the 25,000-acre reservoir and the first Qualifying Round for Group A provided plenty of storylines heading into their next round of competition on Monday.
Ott DeFoe ended Saturday on top of SCORETRACKER® with 10 bass for 31 pounds, 14 ounces. REDCREST 2022 presented by Costa Champion, Bobby Lane, ended the round in second place behind DeFoe with eight bass for 24-13. Stage One Champion, Bradley Roy, takes the Big Bass lead in Group A after catching a 6-pound, 9-ounce largemouth. If Roy’s 6-9 holds up as the big bass in Group A after Monday’s second Qualifying Round, Roy will earn a $25,000 check.
The first few events of the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season were forward-facing-sonar derbies. That’s not going to be the case for Heavy Hitters. DeFoe caught almost all of his fish sight fishing the shallow waters of Lake Palestine.
“When I could see them, the best thing I could use to get to aggrevate them was a VMC Tokyo rig with a 4.5-inch swimbait on the back of it,” DeFoe said. “With the way the weather is shaping up and the moon phase, what I’m doing should only get better.”
DeFoe also pitched around a Texas-rigged Bass Pro Shops Magnum Fin-Eke worm with a 3/16-ounce weight to bring in his bass.
He’ll enter Monday with a cushion over the rest of the field, but DeFoe won’t be letting off the gas. While $25,000 for a big bass does sound nice, the Tennessee pro’s sole focus is on winning the round and moving on directly to the Championship Round.
“If I get to a 15- or 20-pound cushion to end the day on Monday, then yeah, I might start looking around for a big bass,” DeFoe said. “But, my main focus is still to move on right to the Championship Round and go for the win.”
No REDCREST hangover for Lane just yet. “Big Fish” Bobby Lane finds himself in second place after a solid day on Lake Palestine with eight bass for 24-13 and 7-1 behind the leader DeFoe.
Lane insists he’s trying to put his REDCREST win in the back of his mind and focus on this week, but he admitted it’s a little more difficult with his fellow anglers showering him with congratulations.
“Every time I idled by someone during practice, they let me know that I was the REDCREST winner,” Lane said. “But, I’ve got a job to do and that’s to catch fish and this place sets up really nice for me.”
Lane caught his eight fish using a variety of different baits including a frog, spinnerbait and flipping a soft plastic creature bait — but he mentioned a 3/8-ounce Berkley swim jig as what got him started in the morning with a shad spawn bite. The Florida pro is hoping that the shad spawn trend can continue for him come his second Qualifying Round on Monday.
“I’m hoping the warmer nights will get the shad spawning again by the time Monday gets here,” Lane said. “There’s prespawn, spawners and postspawn fish in the lake right now. I had 12 rods on my deck today and if it looks good, I’m gonna fish it.”
Roy is on the outside looking in on the Top Eight right now on SCORETRACKER® after only catching two bass for 9-11 on Saturday. But there’s about a $25,000 silver lining for Roy — he currently has the big bass for Group A after catching a 6-9.
Roy’s morning started off very slow by his standards as he went without a scorable bass for nearly the first four hours of competition. He was starting to scratch his head with a zero on the board considering he had a solid practice. Then he was able to find the 6-9.
“I was fishing some typical spawning patterns when I caught that fish,” Roy said. “I was able to catch that one skipping a worm around and it really stopped the bleeding for me. I struggled today but having the big fish and being closer to the cut is a good start.”
Group A still has one more day left on Lake Palestine before the $25,000 big bass award is handed out. Does Roy believe he can hold on to his lead until the end of Monday’s second Qualifying Round?
“I wouldn’t put $25,000 on it,” Roy said with a chuckle. “I guess there’s always a chance that it holds up, especially with only 16 of us out there in our group, but I highly doubt it.”
Group B takes on Lake Palestine for the first time during Heavy Hitters on Sunday with 16 new pros in their first Qualifying Round. Those 16 anglers will look to position themselves on SCORETRACKER® above the Elimination Line while also searching for a $25,000 big bass. The competition kicks off at 8 a.m. CST. Live coverage of the second day of General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops starts at 7:45 a.m. CST on the MLF NOW! live stream. Watch for free on MajorLeagueFishing.com, the MLF app, or the MyOutdoorTV app.