Morgan goes 'old school' for lead on Caney Creek, Connell goes 'new school' for big bass - Major League Fishing

Morgan goes ‘old school’ for lead on Caney Creek, Connell goes ‘new school’ for big bass

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Andy Morgan held a steady pace throughout the day to finish in the lead by a 13-pound margin. Photo by Tyler Brinks. Angler: Andy Morgan.
April 25, 2023 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. – The bites were slow to start the day, but the big ones woke up to end Day 2 at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops. Dustin Connell finished the day with the $25,000 Berkley Big Bass lead thanks to his 7-pound, 8-ounce largemouth and Andy Morgan holds the top spot on SCORETRACKER® after catching 11 bass for 38-12.

There were five bass over 5 pounds, six over 6 pounds and two over 7 pounds caught on Day 2, and the bigger-fish bites gradually improved as the day moved on, especially once the third period came around. Connell was able to catch his 7-8 in Period 3 as well as a 6-7, Brent Ehrler added two 6-pounders and Randall Tharp added a 6-13 as well in the final frame.

Morgan masterful in Monroe

Did Morgan feel right at home flipping pads and driftwood with a Zoom Z Craw on Caney Creek?

“I think you know the answer to that,” Morgan said through a grin.

The Tennessee pro opted out of the deep-water, forward-facing-sonar game that many of the anglers are playing this week. Instead, the three-time FLW Tour Angler of the Year did what he does better than almost anyone in the Bass Pro Tour field, flip shallow. His decision paid off as he carries a 13-3 lead over second-place Jacob Wheeler into his second day of fishing on Thursday.

Morgan’s 38-12 on Day 1 will give him a 13-3 lead when Group B finishes their Qualifying Round on Thursday.

“I was in my wheelhouse today and it felt good to be there,” Morgan chuckled. “I didn’t really find any fish in practice, but I just had a good feeling I could get bites flipping. I think the cold front helped me today, so we’ll see how it goes on Thursday if the weather is more stable.”

While many anglers struggled to find keeper bites until that afternoon, Morgan got started right away with four bass in the first period. And while he never connected with a truly big bite, Morgan managed to collect three 4-pounders and two 5-pounders to build his comfortable lead.

As for his plans for Thursday, don’t expect to find Morgan changing his course now.

“I’ve got to ride this horse whether it runs fast or dies now,” Morgan said. “I don’t think there’s big ones doing what I’m doing up shallow. Maybe a 4- or 5-pounder, but not an 8-pounder. I think the big fish are offshore. Now, a week or 10 days ago? I’d be doing the right thing for a big one up shallow. But now? The majority of those big ones are out deeper.”

The 7-8 Dustin Connell caught today could turn out to be worth $25,000.

Connell’s 7-8 bests buddy Wheeler by 1 ounce for big bass

Connell can be the $25,000 man if his 7-8 holds on for one more day of competition for Group B. He was able to knock his good friend Wheeler out of the Berkley Big Bass spot by just 1 ounce at the end of the day.

“It felt great to get Jacob by 1 ounce because I love beating Jacob,” Connell said. “I know he might be a little salty about it. I could see a 7-8 holding up for one more day and winning $25,000. This place has 8-pounders in here obviously and you never can tell, but I could honestly see a 7 1/2-pounder being the big bass.”

Connell spent his day offshore, scanning brush piles. He had several good spots located, but it was one special brush pile that he found the most success with.

“I had a brush pile that I saw some big ones on earlier in the morning I marked,” Connell said. “Once it got sunny and calm in the afternoon, I went back to it and saw that fish sitting at the base of the brush. I was able to catch it on a drop-shot thanks to a really good cast as well. I also caught a 6-7 off that spot, too. It was just one of those special spots you love to find.”

Other notes from Caney Creek

  • Jacob Wheeler continues to show no matter the format or location, he’s always a factor in the race for the lead. Wheeler is in second place with seven bass for 25-10
  • Randall Tharp made a run in the third period with three fish for 14-7 (which included a 6-13) to move him into the Top 10.
  • Brent Ehrler went from last place to third in the final 70 minutes of the day. He caught four fish for 19-7: 6-13, 6-4, 4-0 and a 2-6.
  • Jesse Wiggins is the last man inside the Top 8 with one more day for Group B to go. His three bass for 10-6 is 2-5 ahead of 11th place Jordan Lee.

What’s next

Heavy Hitters continues on Wednesday with Group A’s second day of competition on Caney Creek Reservoir. The pros will carry over their weight from Day 1 and try to position themselves above the Cut Line. The Top 8 anglers after three periods of fishing will move on to the Knockout Round on Friday. The angler with the biggest bass in Group A will walk away with $25,000. The current mark to beat is Dakota Ebare with a 9-5.

Coverage begins at 7:45 a.m. CT at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

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