Neal Wins Knockout Round on Mille Lacs; Avena Keeps Wheeler from Championship Round Berth - Major League Fishing
Neal Wins Knockout Round on Mille Lacs; Avena Keeps Wheeler from Championship Round Berth
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Neal Wins Knockout Round on Mille Lacs; Avena Keeps Wheeler from Championship Round Berth

Image for Neal Wins Knockout Round on Mille Lacs; Avena Keeps Wheeler from Championship Round Berth
Michael Neal won the Knockout Round on Mille Lacs Lake to earn a spot in the Championship Round of Stage Seven. Photo by Garrick Dixon
September 14, 2022 • Mason Prince • Bass Pro Tour

ONAMIA, Minn. – It was a two-horse race at the top of SCORETRACKER® on Wednesday, but the most dramatic battle was at the Toro Cut Line, where 2 ounces separated two close friends. The Championship Round of the Bally Bet Stage Seven Presented by Minn Kota is set after eight anglers advance out of the Knockout Round.

Full Results

Neal Locks Up Top Spot

Michael Neal is looking to end his 2022 season the same way he ended his 2021 season: with a win in the final event of the year. Neal won Stage Seven on Lake St. Clair in September of 2021, and after winning the Knockout Round on Mille Lacs, he seems to be in prime position to grab another Bass Pro Tour victory on the last day of the season.

The Tennessee pro caught 20 bass for 77 pounds, 2 ounces on Wednesday, edging out Dustin Connell by 5-15. Neal focused on the north side of Mille Lacs, fishing one key area in which he caught all of his fish.

“I making a very specific cast to a very specific area, and you have to hit it with long casts,” Neal said. “I focused on a bigger area today because of the wind we had, and I think I may have to do that again tomorrow. I don’t know if the clouds and wind will push more fish to me or if it will make them all scatter more, I guess we’ll see.”

Neal utilized a drop-shot for most of the day, catching all of his fish in about 10 to 15 feet of water. Even though he found himself on top of SCORETRACKER® to end the day, Neal doesn’t believe that his weight would be enough to win come Thursday.

“It’s going to be a shootout tomorrow, no doubt,” Neal said. “Everyone is back to zero and I’m guessing you’ll need anywhere from 80 to 90 pounds to win tomorrow. Maybe even 100 pounds. I feel like I could have gotten to that mark today.”

Avena Holds off Wheeler for Final Spot in Championship Round

Adrian Avena is moving on to his first Championship Round of the 2022 season after beating Jacob Wheeler for the final spot above the Cut Line in the Knockout Round on Wednesday. Photo by Mason Prince

Yesterday was Jacob Wheeler’s day of celebration after winning his second straight Bally Bet Angler of the Year title, but Wednesday belonged to his buddy Adrian Avena. Avena was able to keep Wheeler from clinching his seventh Championship Round appearance of the year by just 2 ounces.

With only five minutes remaining in the day, Wheeler brought in a 3-10 smallmouth to pull within 2 ounces of Avena. However, neither Avena nor Wheeler were able to catch another scorable bass in the final five minutes, sending Avena on to his first Championship Round of the year.

“Going back and forth with one of my best friends was fun, but it was stressful,” Avena said. “It was a grind out there today with the wind blowing and the waves, but I just stayed glued to my Lowrance Active Target with a Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm.”

Daily Leaders

  • The Berkley Big Bass of the Day belonged to Dakota Ebare who landed a 6-1 smallmouth.
  • Neal had the most weight on SCORETRACKER® with 77-2.
  • Neal caught the most scoreable bass with 20.

What’s Next

The Bally Bet Stage Seven Presented by Minn Kota concludes on Thursday with the Championship Round. The 10 remaining anglers will once again have their weights reset to zero. The angler with the most weight on SCORETRACKER® after three periods of fishing on Mille Lacs Lake will be named the Stage Seven Champion and earn $100,000. Fans can watch all the action on MLF NOW! beginning at 7:45 a.m. CT.