Lee keeps lead, Rose earns big-bass bonus during huge day - Major League Fishing

Lee keeps lead, Rose earns big-bass bonus during huge day

Image for Lee keeps lead, Rose earns big-bass bonus during huge day
Jordan Lee maintained the lead throughout the day to finished with a two-day total of 24 bass weighing 82 pounds, 10 ounces. Photo by Tyler Brinks. Angler: Jordan Lee.
May 21, 2024 • Mitchell Forde • Bass Pro Tour

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Despite locking up a spot in the Knockout Round of General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops during his first day on the water, Jordan Lee used every minute of the second qualifying day for Group B to his advantage. 

Lee hauled his biggest bass of Tuesday, a 6-pound, 7-ounce specimen, over the gunwale just seconds before the end of competition. The buzzer-beater anchored his tally of 19-6 on six scorable bass, which was more than enough to maintain his spot atop the standings. His two-day total of 82-10 topped Kevin VanDam by 21-11.

While he and the other anglers who started the day near the top of SCORETRACKER® spent much of the day in what Lee called “search mode,” Mark Rose provided the most entertaining action. Rose, who started the day in 14th place, blasted 37-13 on seven bass, including a 7-9, which earned him $10,000 as the day’s biggest catch.

Complete results can be found here.

Lee defends lead, turf

Jordan Lee had been looking forward to going all-in on the frog bite. Photo by Tyler Brinks

Like Brandon Coulter a day prior, Lee’s objective Tuesday wasn’t to catch as much weight as he could. Instead, he used the day to prepare for Wednesday’s Knockout Round with a little bit of offense and a little bit of defense.

Lee spent much of the day exploring new water, looking for more schools of bass living in the matted hydrilla on Lake Toho. He’s optimistic he found a few spots that could produce if the bite falters in his Day 1 area, including the one that produced his 6-pounder just before lines out.

“I had three bites here in about five minutes,” Lee said of the spot. “So, maybe I’ll have a little something up here to myself. I don’t really know. It looks good, but we’ll see tomorrow.”

Lee will hope he never has to turn to the backup plan. He did his best to make sure the zone that produced the bulk of his 63-4 on Sunday — a mark no other angler eclipsed across two days of qualifying combined — can carry him through the rest of the tournament, chasing off at least one other angler who stumbled upon the spot.

While Lee almost certainly will have company there tomorrow, he’s all-in on his frog bite, throwing a Berkley Swamp Lord on his signature 7-6, heavy Jordan Lee casting rod from Abu Garcia. The 2020 Heavy Hitters champion told MLFNOW! viewers that he’s been waiting for a tournament that could be won frogging mats like he does during the fall on Lake Guntersville in his home state of Alabama. Given that he and Coulter both used the technique to lead their respective groups through qualifying, this looks like his chance.

“I feel like tomorrow is going to be fun,” he said. “I’ve got some areas I feel like I can put the trolling motor down and (Power-Pole) down and frog, and that’s what we’re going to do. I feel like you can get right in a hurry, for sure.”

Big bass sparks big day for Rose

Catching a 7-9 for the biggest bass of the day earned Rose $10,000 and helped boost him from 14th to sixth place, earning him a spot in tomorrow’s Knockout Round. Photo by Phoenix Moore

Even though Rose caught just two scorable bass totaling 4-9 during his first day on the water, something told him to return to his same starting spot. He described the area as a hard spot with isolated wood where bass relate to current and believed the north wind that greeted the field Tuesday might move more water across the spot, thus attracting more fish.

But even he did not expect what unfolded when he arrived.

Less than 15 minutes after lines in, Rose connected with the 7-9 that would retain Berkley Big Fish honors all day. Across the rest of the first period, he added a 5-3, a 4-9, a 6-13 and a 4-8, catching them on the combination of a Strike King KVD 1.5 squarebill and a junebug finesse worm on a 1/8-ounce Strike King shaky head.

“It wasn’t lights out in practice there, but there was a nice little school of fish, and I felt like it was a good shot to put four or five in the boat pretty quick and then go fishing, looking for something else,” Rose said. “Those big ones, they were just unexpected.”

Even after catching the 7-9, earning $10,000 wasn’t on Rose’s radar. He just wanted to qualify for his first Knockout Round of the 2024 season. As it turned out, he did both with relative ease. Three of the four biggest fish that hit SCORETRACKER® on the day came from Rose, including a 6-4 that ate his shaky head around noon and cemented his place in the top eight. His 37-13 total was the biggest of the day, and his five biggest bass weighed a combined 30-6.

“I wasn’t even thinking about big fish,” he said. “I just wanted to have a good day. I knew that fish would get me started off to the possibility of making the Knockout Round, and it’s been a little bit of a rough start to the year, so I just was trying to really have a good day, just a good day of fishing. It sounds crazy and easy and simple, but I wasn’t thinking about a certain weight, a big fish or anything. I just wanted a good day on the water just to get your confidence and your momentum back, because fishing is such a mental, momentum sport.”

What’s next

Weights will zero overnight, and the top eight finishers from Group B will meet the top eight from Group A for the Knockout Round on Wednesday. They’ll compete for 10 spots in the Championship Round plus an increased daily big bass payout of $30,000. 

During Thursday’s Championship Round, not only will $100,000 be on the line for the winner of the event, the angler who catches the biggest bass will also earn $100,000. Tune in to MLFNOW! on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app to watch all the action live from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET each day.