Myers takes over top spot on Dale Hollow - Major League Fishing
Myers takes over top spot on Dale Hollow
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Myers takes over top spot on Dale Hollow

South Carolina pro stacks 79-14 on scale to sail into Knockout Round
Image for Myers takes over top spot on Dale Hollow
Britt Myers topped the field for Group A with a two-day total of 43 bass weighing 140 pounds, 8 ounces. Photo by Joel Shangle. Angler: Britt Myers.
April 11, 2024 • Mitchell Forde • Bass Pro Tour

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. — At one point Thursday afternoon,  Britt Myers felt a bass bite his bait, but he didn’t set the hook. Not wanting to educate too many of the fish he’s found prior to the Knockout Round at PowerStop Brakes Stage Three Presented by Mercury on Dale Hollow Lake, the South Carolina native waited, hoping the bass would spit out his jighead minnow, then tried to shake it off. Somehow, he still hooked the 3-pound, 10-ounce smallmouth and added it to his rapidly ballooning weight total.

The second day of qualifying was “one of those days” for Myers — in the best way possible. With everything seemingly going his way, Myers boated 24 scorable bass for nearly 80 pounds, bringing his two-day total to 140 pounds, 8 ounces and topping the leaderboard in Group A.

“It was just one of those days where you couldn’t do anything wrong,” Myers said. “I’ve had those days before in practice, but never during a major event. It was just super fun.”

Myers, who entered the day more than 17 pounds behind Day 1 leader Drew Gill, wasted little time chipping away at the deficit. He stacked a whopping 42-5 onto SCORETRACKER® during the first period. Even after Myers started running new water, he barely slowed down, adding 12 more scorable bass for 37-9 to his tally. 

Myers took the lead in the final minutes of the second period and finished the day 16-4 ahead of Gill. Those two, plus the rest of the Top 10 finishers in Group A, earned spots in Saturday’s Knockout Round, where they will face off with the Top 10 anglers from Group B.

Complete results can be found here.

A magical day for Myers

Britt Myers hit several different locations on Thursday. Photo by Garrick Dixon

In the months prior to the start of the 2024 Bass Pro Tour season, Myers worked with his son, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals pro Britt Myers Jr., to learn the intricacies of chasing offshore fish with forward-facing sonar. The elder Myers was excited to show off his new skillset at the first two events, but they didn’t quite go as planned. Myers finished 71st at Toledo Bend and 65th at Santee Cooper.

As a result, the fact that he leaned on Garmin LiveScope to amass more than 80 pounds made Thursday even sweeter.

“I went to Toledo, I was so excited, because I wanted to use that technique, and even Santee Cooper,” Myers said. “But fish just moved, and things didn’t work out. So, I desperately needed this tournament.”

Myers caught his Day 1 total using the same technique — a jighead minnow and forward-facing sonar — but did so much shallower, due in large part to gusting winds that forced him to stay in protected pockets and coves. But something he noticed Tuesday gave him a clue about a pattern he thought he might be able to replicate around the lake given the right conditions.

It didn’t take long for him to be proven right. Myers started Thursday morning in an area he’d caught bass during practice, then ran 10 to 15 more areas that set up similarly. He caught fish from all of them. Not wanting to divulge too many of the details, Myers said depth hasn’t seemed to matter — he caught fish anywhere from 4 feet to 30 feet Thursday — but the key is “how the bass are positioned.”

“Literally, I never fished anywhere today that I fished the first day,” Myers said. “I think those fish are just roaming anywhere from 4 foot to 30 foot. And I know it sounds crazy. I don’t understand that. It’s against everything in the bass fishing handbook. But that’s what’s going on.”

Myers didn’t just find schools of bass at each of the spots he visited, but big ones. He landed five 4-plus-pounders Thursday, averaging about 3-5 per fish. Through three days at Dale Hollow, it’s become clear that finding groups of those bigger-than-average bass will be key to outdueling other anglers in an event where getting bites isn’t an issue.

“The crazy thing is, I caught two 4-pound smallmouth, and then I caught two 4-pound largemouth,” Myers said. “It’s just a day you won’t forget.”

Looking to make his first ever Championship Round appearance on the Bass Pro Tour, the most important question Myers will have to answer prior to Saturday is which of the myriad areas he found Thursday to focus on. He’ll give that plenty of thought during his day off the water. In the meantime, he’ll be basking in the excitement of his magical day.

“I guess you start where you had the most bites, and where the highest concentration of fish is,” Myers said. “I just can’t even explain the day, to be honest with you. I’m still kind of puzzled.”

Largemouth or smallmouth… or both?

Britt Myers says he is fishing for smallmouth, but the largemouth are sharing the same areas. Photo by Garrick Dixon

Entering the event, one of the primary subplots to the action on Dale Hollow figured to be whether the lake’s smallmouth or largemouth would comprise the winning catch. In most past tournaments on the Kentucky-Tennessee border reservoir, largemouth have dominated, but that’s resulted in part from the lake’s slot limit, which prohibits anglers from possessing smallmouth between 16 and 21 inches in length. With the Bass Pro Tour’s catch-weigh-immediate release format, anglers don’t have to worry about the slot, freeing them up to show off the smallmouth population Dale Hollow is best known for.

So far, most anglers have caught a mixture of species, and it doesn’t seem to matter. Largemouth have accounted for about two-thirds of the scorable bass caught through the first three days of competition, but the average size has been similar, with a scorable largemouth weighing 2.8 pounds on average compared to 2.9 pounds for smallmouth.

Interestingly, Myers caught mostly smallmouth for the second day in a row, with 15 of his 24 fish being brown ones. Gill, on the other hand, predicted prior to the event that the winning total would consist of 75% smallmouth, yet he’s caught 29 largemouth to 11 smallmouth across the first two days.

“Before the tournament started, I thought if you fished for smallmouth, you would occasionally catch a decent largemouth, but you wouldn’t catch many largemouth,” Myers said. “And actually, it’s just been the opposite of that. So I’m really fishing for smallmouth, but the largemouth are sharing the same areas.”

Rather than which species will win, the bigger question seems to be whether anglers fishing around the bank can keep up with those using forward-facing sonar to target offshore schools of fish. The offshore game has dominated so far, with each of the top four finishers in Group A eclipsing 100 pounds that way. But with shallow specialists like Ott DeFoeJeff Sprague and David Dudley all making the Top 10 and the weather forecast to warm this weekend, it’s possible we could see a wave of bass hit the banks and give one of those anglers a chance to spoil the forward-facing sonar party.

What’s next for Stage Three

Group B will return to the water Friday for its second day of qualifying. The battle to make the Top 10 and join the 10 qualifiers from Group A in the Knockout Round should be tight. Weights will zero prior to the Knockout Round, then the Top 10 finishers will advance to Sunday’s Championship Round.

Catch all the action through Sunday on the MLFNOW! live stream. The stream will start at 7:30 a.m. CT and run through 4:30 p.m. each day on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Fishing Clash Angler of the Year

While the winner of the Stage Three trophy and accompanying $100,000 payday remain to be determined, Dale Hollow has already assured there will be a shakeup in the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year race. Defending AOY Matt Becker, who entered the event third in this year’s competition, missed the Knockout Round, finishing 17th in Group A. Jesse Wiggins, meanwhile, continued his strong season by climbing into the Top 10. Wiggins entered the event second to Jacob Wheeler in the points. The winner of the season-long competition will take home an additional $100,000 check.

Fishing Clash, an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide, is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. You can download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play, or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.