Shuffield breaks 100-pound mark, leads charge into Championship Round - Major League Fishing

Shuffield breaks 100-pound mark, leads charge into Championship Round

Image for Shuffield breaks 100-pound mark, leads charge into Championship Round
Even after a successful Knockout Round, Spender Shuffield says he has more tricks up his sleeve for tomorrow's Championship Round. Photo by Rob Matsuura. Angler: Spencer Shuffield.
February 3, 2024 • Mitchell Forde • Bass Pro Tour

MANY, La. — Spencer Shuffield joined an exclusive club of Bass Pro Tour anglers by stacking more than 100 pounds of bass on SCORETRACKER® in a single day. Shuffield won the Knockout Round at B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One Presented by Power-Pole on Saturday with 30 Toledo Bend bass that weighed a combined 101 pounds, 14 ounces.

A handful of anglers have put up 100-pound days during the first six Bass Pro Tour seasons, but Shuffield is the first to do so with all largemouth. Perhaps even more impressive than hitting the century mark is that he did so while keeping some fish in reserve for Sunday’s Championship Round. While weights will zero when the Top 10 anglers return to the water, Shuffield is optimistic that he can put up even bigger numbers and claim his first career BPT win.

“Tomorrow it’s all going to get left out there on the table, so I’m looking forward to it,” Shuffield said. “I haven’t been able to truly lean on these fish yet this week. Tomorrow, we get to – and, man, it would be sweet to break 200 pounds, because it’s definitely possible.”

Shuffield finished the Knockout Round 21-14 ahead of Dustin Connell, who racked up more than 45 pounds in the first period before switching to practice mode. Jacob Wheeler finished third with 72-12. Those three have looked to be the most in tune with Toledo Bend’s bass all week, but the race for the first trophy of the 2024 season will be wide open. All the action will be streamed live on MLFNOW! on and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT.

The 10 anglers who advanced to the Championship Round are listed below. Complete results can be found here.

  1. Spencer Shuffield — 101-14 (30)
  2. Dustin Connell — 80-1 (30)
  3. Jacob Wheeler — 72-12 (22)
  4. Zack Birge — 65-13 (20)
  5. Drew Gill — 60-13 (18)
  6. Matt Becker — 55-12 (18)
  7. Justin Cooper — 52-7 (20)
  8. Alton Jones Jr. — 50-13 (17)
  9. Martin Villa — 43-0 (14)
  10.  Jesse Wiggins — 38-15 (14)

Shuffield eyeing even bigger encore

Shuffield had never fished Toledo Bend prior to December, when he spent a few days on the massive reservoir to pre-practice for Stage One. Ever since that visit, he’s had his sights set on taking home the first trophy of the year.

One of the best on tour at using forward-facing sonar to target suspended fish, Shuffield figured Toledo Bend’s shad-hungry bass would set up to his liking. A successful practice only bolstered his confidence.

While Shuffield racked up more than 130 pounds across the two-day Qualifying Round, easily earning a spot in the Knockout Round, he emerged a bit disappointed. Saturday was more like the success he experienced during practice.

“I kind of lost contact with these bigger fish after practice for some reason,” Shuffield explained. “I had ‘em dialed in really good in practice, and then got out here first day of the tournament; they had really changed on me. The water went from 48 to 52 (degrees), and it was warming up a lot … this morning and they had moved again, and they moved back out to kind of where they were in practice. I think a lot of that had to do with cloud cover, and the water was back to 50 degrees this morning.”

Like just about everyone else in the Top 10, Shuffield has caught the majority of his fish this week with a soft-plastic minnow affixed to a jighead. The key, he said, has been locating groups of bigger-than-average bass. He certainly found them Saturday, boating 10 fish of 4 pounds or bigger.

“It’s the type of bait that I’m looking for,” Shuffield said. “It’s all threadfin shad, of course, but when you find the bait set up correctly on the right type of area and place, you find the bigger quality fish.”

The scariest part for the rest of the field: Shuffield didn’t even visit his most promising spots during the Knockout Round. He ran all new water, adding a few more areas to his arsenal that he could turn to on Sunday. He also thinks he’ll have his fish to himself, saying he didn’t see another competitor all day.

“I said coming into the day that if I could make it to tomorrow without fishing through my best stuff, then I felt like I could win,” Shuffield said. “Today was brand new water, every bit of it.”

With the forecast calling for lighter winds during the Championship Round and the likes of Connell and Wheeler sure to keep the pedal to the metal all day, prepare for fireworks. While he brought up the possibility of hitting the 200-pound mark, Shuffield realistically thinks it will take about 120 to claim the $100,000 first place prize.

“I’ve got four, five, six areas that really, really got ‘em, so I’m really excited about tomorrow, getting to come out here — it’s going to be no wind — and just absolutely get to put the pedal to the gas,” Shuffield said.

Birge’s jerkbait attack pays off

Zack Birge did things a little different than the rest of the anglers today and it paid off with a Top-10 finish. Photo by Phoenix Moore

While every angler who claimed a spot in the Championship Round did so by using forward-facing sonar to target suspended fish, one competitor is doing something a little different than the rest. Zack Birge caught all his fish Saturday on a jerkbait instead of the ubiquitous jighead minnow.

His bait selection just might be key to triggering some bigger bites. Birge, who finished the Knockout Round in fourth with 20 bass for 65-13, landed four fish that weighed 4-11 or bigger. That included a 7-12, the second-biggest of the day. The Berkley Big Bass, an 8-15 brute caught by Mark Daniels Jr., also ate a jerkbait.

We’ll see whether Birge sticks with the jerkbait during the Championship Round, and whether it gives him an edge against a field of minnow-wielding mid-strollers.

Three rookies move on

Martin Villa pulled off the most clutch catch of the day, boating a 5-10 with less than 10 minutes remaining in Period 3. The fish boosted him from 11th place to ninth, earning him a Championship Round berth in his first career Bass Pro Tour event.

Villa is one of three rookies who have wasted no time making their presence felt on tour. All three newcomers who fished the Knockout Round — Villa, Justin Cooper and Drew Gill — finished among the Top 10.

Fishing Clash AOY

Bass Pro Tour anglers will compete throughout the 2024 season for the prestigious Fishing Clash Angler of the Year award and its $100,000 payday. 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 for more information.