DAYTON, Tenn. – The final qualifying round for Group B on Lake Chickamauga was a rain-soaked one. Nineteen anglers are advancing to the Knockout Round of the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage Four Presented by ATG x Wrangler and Shin Fukae claimed a spot in the Championship Round by winning Group B. While Fukae was running away with a round win, Alton Jones Jr. was working near the Toro Cut Line to squeak in the top 20 and earn some much-needed points in his efforts for an Angler of the Year title.
For the second day in a row, the winner of the Qualifying Round put over 100 pounds of Chickamauga bass on SCORETRACKER®. Jason Lambert ended his day with two-day total of 109 pounds, 13 ounces on Sunday, while Fukae was able to register a two-day total of 37 total bass for 114-2 on Monday. Fukae will join Lambert in his first-ever Championship Round on the Bass Pro Tour, something the Japanese angler has been working towards for a while.
“I’m really excited because making the Championship Round was one of my goals for this event,” Fukae said. “I found the biggest school that I’ve found since I got here and decided to start there today. I’m glad I did because that was the right decision.”
Fukae began the day in fifth place with 34-12, more than 40 pounds behind leader Edwin Evers. Fukae caught 11 scorable bass in Period 1, including a 7-5 that earned him an extra $1,000 for the Berkley Big Bass of the day. Once Period 2 rolled around, Fukae was able to surpass Evers for the top spot after landing a 6-11.
The Yamamoto Baits pro will rest easy on Monday night knowing he has a day of planning and relaxation ahead of him while the other 38 anglers fish the Knockout Round for a top-eight spot.
Alton Jones Jr. entered Stage Four sitting in sixth place in the Angler of the Year standings. However, Stage Four could be one of the more important ones for Jones, as three of the five men in front of him in the standings (Bobby Lane, Brent Chapman, and Gerald Spohrer) failed to make the Knockout Round.
“There’s a lot of points up for grabs tomorrow,” Jones said. “There’s room to move up in those standings this week. I’m not going to get to the top of the points, but I can gain some important ground. It’s important to keep pace with Ott DeFoe and Brent Ehrler because they’re ahead of me as well.”
Jones was able to hold on to the final spot in the top 20 by only 6 ounces over Jeff Kriet. He finished the day with 30-11, but was unable to catch a scorable bass in the final period. He saw himself fall down SCORETRACKER® in Period 3 and definitely felt as though his spot in the Knockout Round was disappearing before his eyes.
“I sat on the cut line for an hour and a half, and that never happens,” Jones explained. “I was shocked I made it and I wasn’t really even that excited once the clock hit zero because I knew someone was going to knock me out. I got pretty lucky.”
Jones, Ott DeFoe and Brent Ehrler will all fish in the Knockout Round on Tuesday. All three will gain AOY ground on Lane and Chapman at the e halfway point of the 2021 season.
The 38 advancing pros from Group A and B will now have their weights reset to zero for the Knockout Round. The anglers will fish three periods on Lake Chickamauga and only the top eight pros at the end of the day will move on to meet Shin Fukae and Jason Lambert during Wednesday’s Championship Round. A scorable bass must weigh at least 2 pounds for the Knockout Round.