Lucas, Wiggins, Elam in Good Position to Make First Knockout Round - Major League Fishing

Lucas, Wiggins, Elam in Good Position to Make First Knockout Round

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MLF pro James Elam fishes near a dock during his Shotgun Round. Photo by Garrick Dixon
April 9, 2019 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

DAYTON, Tenn. – Through the first three events of the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour, we’ve seen some anglers who are consistently competing for a championship: Edwin Evers, Jeff Sprague, and Jordan Lee are just a few. However, there are still some anglers who are not only fighting for their first appearance in a Championship Round, but their first Knockout Round appearance.

MLF pros James Elam, Jesse Wiggins and Justin Lucas have all been close to breaking into a Knockout Round, but haven’t quite gotten over the hump to start the year. That may change this week as all three anglers are inside the Top 20 in Group A after Tuesday’s Shotgun Round 1 of the Econo Lodge Stage Four Presented by Winn Grips.

Justin Lucas put over 50 pounds on SCORETRACKER to finish in the Top 10.

Lucas Learning Chickamauga

Lucas had the best finish of the three anglers—he was sixth—and cracked the 50-pound mark for the first time this season, with 50-10. Lucas was able to get off to a good start today because of the spawning stage of the bass.

“I think what has helped me this event is my familiarity with this lake and the time of year we’re in,” Lucas explained. “I’m a terrible shallow-water pre-spawn fisherman. Unfortunately, that’s really all we’ve had up until this point. This week is the first time I’ve been able to catch a fish on a spinning rod all year, and that’s something that’s usually a big part of my arsenal. I got a lot of bites today, though, and I hope to keep it rolling.”

The start of the year has not gone Lucas’ way, and he will be the first to tell you that. However, he has himself in a position he hasn’t been all season and he does not want that to slip through his fingers.

“When you miss three cuts in a row, it’s a bad start,” Lucas admitted. “The number one goal on Thursday is to catch enough weight to make it to the Knockout Round. To make the cut would just give me some relief, honestly. This format is still new to me, and it’s taken a bit of a learning curve.”

Jesse Wiggins and a 4-pound, 8-ouncer that helped him to ninth place.

Wiggins Happy With Position

Wiggins finds himself in ninth place after a solid day on Lake Chickamauga. He was able to reel in 22 fish for 46-13, easily his highest weight total for a round this year. Wiggins hails from Alabama, but still feels very comfortable with the kind of fishing Chickamauga offers. He was able to use his practice time to find himself a honey hole where he caught a majority of his fish today.

“I found an area today that had a lot of fish in it and was able to catch a bunch of them,” Wiggins said. “The bad part is, I was trying to save that spot, but I had to go there to get myself in a good spot heading into Thursday.”

He may sit in ninth after the day, but Wiggins is focused on being in the Top 20, regardless of where he is positioned.

“Making the cut on Thursday is just another stepping stone for me,” Wiggins outlined. “The goal is just 20th place, and it would be awesome to get there. I’m going to stick with my same game plan that got me bites today, and hopefully that’s enough to get me through to Saturday.”

James Elam had a strong Shotgun Round. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Elam Ready For More

Elam finished his Shotgun Round in 10th place thanks to 27 bass for 46-6, the third-most fish in the round. After a slow start to the year, Elam has started to figure some things out in Tennessee.

“The key for me today was just being able to catch fish, which was something I hadn’t done well in the first three events,” Elam admitted. “There’s a big wave of fish coming. There’s not a lot of females up by the banks yet, but they are about to be. It’s a good time to take advantage of those male bass making a bed.”

A Top-20 finish would not be the biggest moment in Elam’s career, it’s more about getting the metaphorical monkey off of his back.

“I need to get after it and I need to get with it,” Elam said. “I’ve had some success in the past, so it’s not about making a name for myself, it’s about digging myself out of the hole I’m in. It also helps me to know that I can adapt to this way of fishing, which is a style I really like.”

Group A will be back on Lake Chickamauga on Thursday for their Elimination Round, where only the Top 20 anglers advance to the Knockout Round. The Econo Lodge Stage Four Presented by Winn Grips from Dayton, Tennessee continues Wednesday with Group B’s Shotgun Round. The round begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with MLF NOW! live coverage starting at 10 a.m. ET for free on MajorLeagueFishing.com.