TULSA, Okla. – The final 10 anglers at REDCREST Presented by Costa make up a stacked field that includes both of the previous REDCREST winners and all three Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year winners since the tour’s inception in 2019. Also on the resumes of the final 10 are four Bassmaster Classic trophies and three Forrest Wood Cup titles. Those accolades don’t include the regular-season wins and MLF Cup triumphs that are part of their stellar careers.
The anglers competing today on Grand Lake include Jordan Lee, Michael Neal, Dustin Connell, Bobby Lane, Jacob Wheeler, Luke Clausen, Andy Montgomery, Edwin Evers, Bryan Thrift, and Zack Birge.
It’s hard to make predictions for this Championship Round, so we enlisted the help of the experts: we caught up with five Mercury Pro Team anglers at the REDCREST Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Costa to see who they think will win.
John Murray – “I’m going way off the board with a wildcard and picking Michael Neal,” Murray said with a laugh. “I live near him in Tennessee and know how good he is – his momentum is getting bigger and bigger with each good finish. It’s a safe bet for me to pick him, but I think he will win it.”
Josh Bertrand – “Both Michael Neal and Jordan Lee will be tough to beat because they’ve been catching them so well this week,” Bertrand said. “If I had to pick one, I’m going with Jordan because he has something about him where he always steps up in the big events and takes it to another level. He’s clutch, and the most cool-headed fisherman there is now and maybe ever. That dude doesn’t let anything rattle him and even if the pattern changes on him, he regroups and finds something new.”
Shaw Grigsby – “My initial thought is to go with Edwin because of his local knowledge and Birge fits there as well because of that,” Grigsby said. “But if I’m looking at how everyone is fishing and not just techniques, but overall, I have to pick Michael Neal. He’s hotter than hot and has that self-confidence that will make him hard to beat in the Championship Round. That’s an easy prediction because he’s done so well so far in the tournament, but he’s rolling right now everywhere he goes on both the Bass Pro Tour and Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit.”
Randy Howell – “Edwin is one I look to win because he knows so much about Grand Lake and knows how to adjust with every little change in water level and clarity,” Howell said. “Michael Neal is another one because he’s on such a hot streak and has that forward-facing sonar figured out as good as anyone.”
Ryan Salzman – “I think Birge will do well since he went to college around here and has tons of experience on Grand Lake,” Salzman said. “I look for him to have a big final day, but I think Jordan wins it. He’s a buddy of mine, and I talked to him yesterday and he seems very confident. You get this weird calm feeling when you know you are going to catch them and he has that right now.”