MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. – Five days of competition are in the books for General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops and the finale is shaping up to be a slugfest. Eight pros advanced out of the Knockout Round on Caney Creek Reservoir to get a shot at a $100,000 bass and a $100,000 championship on Bussey Brake come Saturday.
1. Randy Howell – 29-4 (8)
2. Dakota Ebare – 28-10 (10)
3. Edwin Evers – 23-0 (7)
4. Ryan Salzman – 17-9 (5)
5. Josh Bertrand – 13-13 (4)
6. Alton Jones Jr. – 12-5 (4)
7. Andy Morgan – 10-15 (4)
8. Bradley Roy – 10-7 (3)
The state of Louisiana has been quite good to Randy Howell over the past 14 months or so. Of course, he has the MLF record for a 12-14 bass he caught on Bussey Brake during Stage One of the Bass Pro Tour in 2022, but now he has a $50,000 bass to his credit as well.
Howell landed a 6-4 bedding female late in the morning on Friday to take the Berkley Big Bass lead. Little did he know that in a week that has seen multiple 7-, 8- and 9-pounders that a 6-pounder would pay off in a big way.
“I decided to go sight fishing today because the conditions were just perfect for it,” Howell said. “I found a small male on a bed, but I didn’t see the female. As I was trying to catch the male, I saw the female swim into the bed and knew I had to catch her. I was able to flip to her and catch her, not even thinking a 6-4 would be enough to win $50,000 today, but I’m glad it was.”
Howell also walked away as the winner of the Knockout Round after catching eight bass for 29-4 on the day. Now, Howell can officially shift his focus to the Championship Round at Bussey Brake, the place he’s been waiting to fish again for more than a year. Catching a 10-11 one day, then following it with a 12-14 the next will do that to an angler.
“All I’ve thought about all week was just making it to Bussey Brake,” Howell said. “It’s a special place and the potential for giant fish is always there. I know we’re fishing it postspawn and all the double-digit fish get caught in February and March. But, I’ve still been hearing of big fish being caught there this time of year. I hope it hasn’t been beat to death when we get there tomorrow because I can’t wait to get there.”
The grind has been real for the pros on Caney Creek this week. While there have been many big fish caught, the wear and tear on the 5,000-acre reservoir started to show on Friday. The good news for the advancing anglers is that a change of venue is on the horizon and a chance at a $100,000 bass is coming with it.
Here’s what some of the pros had to say about moving on past Caney Creek and onto Bussey Brake.
Edwin Evers: “I think pressure had a lot to do with why the fishing was so tough. I’m looking forward to getting to Bussey Brake because I won’t have a spinning rod in my boat and I’m going to have the opportunity to catch a fish of a lifetime.”
Bradley Roy: “Caney Creek is a decent-sized lake but it got small quick. There’s fish out deep, but I don’t think they’re all out deep. The ones who were up shallow were really beat on this week and that just makes for tough fishing.”
Josh Bertrand: “The fish aren’t in a phase where there’s a lot of fish doing the same thing. There’s a few fish shallow, a few in the middle, and a few out deep. Bussey is going to be fun because it’s totally different than Caney. Having the opportunity to catch a 10-pounder at any minute is going to be a lot of fun.”
The Top 10 is set and Saturday a $100,000 winner will be crowned and a $100,000 Berkley Big Bass will be awarded as well. Weights reset and the venue changes, as the Championship Round anglers take on Bussey Brake — the location of the biggest bass ever caught in MLF competition by Howell just last season, a 12-14.
Coverage begins at 7:45 a.m. CT at MajorLeagueFishing.com.