Neal, Evers, Birge Hold Serve on Grand Lake as Knockout Round Field is Set - Major League Fishing
Neal, Evers, Birge Hold Serve on Grand Lake as Knockout Round Field is Set
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Neal, Evers, Birge Hold Serve on Grand Lake as Knockout Round Field is Set

Image for Neal, Evers, Birge Hold Serve on Grand Lake as Knockout Round Field is Set
Michael Neal led the field after qualifying days at REDCREST. Photo by Garrick Dixon. Angler: Michael Neal.
March 24, 2022 • Tyler Brinks • Bass Pro Tour

GROVE, Okla. – Day 2 of REDCREST 2022 presented by Costa was another cold start to the day, however the action was anything but. There was plenty of excitement on SCORETRACKER® all day long and with weights tight down to the last angler to start the day; there were some wild swings as anglers rallied towards the top or saw their REDCREST trophy hopes fade.

Michael Neal overtook Edwin Evers for the top spot, but it was symbolic as there is no automatic berth in the Championship Round for REDCREST 2022. Neal ended up with 20 bass for 57 pounds, 7 ounces to lead the pack.


Some of the excitement came from Jordan Lee‘s monster day, James Elam rallying to get inside the Toro Cut Line, and Scott Suggs clinging to the final spot in the Knockout Round. Tomorrow, 10 anglers will fish and the others will fish on Saturday. Placement into groups is based on how they finished after two days of fishing.

Neal, Evers Cruise into Knockout Round

Both Edwin Evers and Michael Neal had excellent first days, catching 39-11 and 35-10. Those weights were enough to carry them to the Knockout Round without catching a scorable bass today. They each spent plenty of time looking for new water and swapped places in the standings.

Neal had eight bass for 21-13 and Evers had four for 15-13. Neal was satisfied to be at the top but would have liked to have finished in another place as it meant he has the day off tomorrow.

“The top of the leaderboard is a good place to be, but I would have rather finished second so I could fish tomorrow with similar conditions to today instead of Saturday,” Neal said. “I was worried about my main area and went back to check it out and caught one. Hopefully, they are still there for Saturday and Sunday’s Championship Round if I can make it that far.”

Lee’s Big Day

After one day of fishing, Jordan Lee found himself in 34th after catching just three bass for 9 pounds. Today, he had the best day of anyone and catapulted to fourth place after catching 11 bass worth 34-14. After a slow start to the day, a small fish gave him a small clue and he ran with it.

“I ran all new water today, tried new stuff and went a few hours without a bite,” Lee said. “I caught a little 12-incher and it clued me in, and I’ve never had a fish that small help that much. I was looking for a home run and with a little luck and a change to my thinking and approach, it ended up to be a really good day.”

Lee divulged that he’s using a jerkbait while watching his Lowrance ActiveTarget and feels good about riding that pattern for the rest of the week. While he didn’t share what he was looking for, Lee has something figured out.

“You had to be really specific with your casts, and I feel like I’m honestly the most dialed in that I’ve been in a while,” he said. “It wasn’t just one spot and some places had multiple fish on them. I’m excited and feel good about doing it again because it will still be cold and what I’m doing sets up well for these conditions.”

Elam Squeezes In

James Elam is one of the three Oklahoma anglers in the field and knows Grand Lake very well, but he had to use all of his local knowledge to make it to the Knockout Round. He finished up in 19th after catching six for 15-10 today, bringing his total to 28-4.

“Grand Lake right now, at least for me, isn’t fishing like normal,” Elam said. “It took a lot of junking around to catch what I caught and it wasn’t easy at all. Every day has been a little different. Yesterday it was reaction baits and today it was all slow baits.”

With weights zeroed for the Knockout Round, Elam hopes to advance one more time and feels a bit of relief after today.

“I think I’ve got more of an idea of what’s happening, and I’m focusing on some of the early blooming areas where the fish move up first,” he said. “I’ve tried to block out all of the pressure from being a local and now won’t have to answer the ‘what happened’ questions since everyone I know around here is obsessed with fishing Grand Lake. It’s fishing and it’s just been a bad week for weather, but it should get better this weekend, but it will be different patterns, too.”

Suggs Backs into Knockout Round

Arkansas pro Scott Suggs began the day in fourth place with 27-12 and he failed to catch a bass over 2 pounds today. His Day 1 weight was barely enough to get by, though, as he ended the qualifying round in 20th place – the last place to advance.

“To make it to the Knockout Round with just my first day weight is incredible,” Suggs said. “It was a nerve-wracking day, and I’d already written off my chances before the camera guy broke the news that I made it. It felt like someone lifted this whole boat off of my shoulders.”

Suggs reflected on his performance today and is looking for a fresh start.

“I got hung up on what I did yesterday and the lake had come up some more and it just didn’t work,” he said. “I’m going to go back and think about my plan. I’ll watch the water levels and have a new attack when I come back here Saturday morning.”

Daily Leaders

  • The Berkley Big Bass of the Day was Dustin Connell‘s 5-12 largemouth.
  • Jordan Lee had the most weight on SCORETRACKER® with 34-14.
  • Lee also had the most scorable bass with 11.

What’s Next & How to Watch

The remaining anglers have been split into two groups of 10, with Group A fishing tomorrow and Group B hitting the water on Saturday. The top five anglers from each day will advance to the Championship Round. Fishing kicks off at 8 a.m. CST tomorrow. Live coverage of REDCREST 2022 presented by Costa starts at 7:45 a.m. CT on the MLF NOW! live stream. Watch for free on, the MLF app, or the MyOutdoorTV app.