MASSENA, N.Y. – For the second day in a row, the 38 anglers fishing in the Knockout Round of the General Tire Stage Five Presented by Berkley had to wait out a lightning delay. However, that brief afternoon storm didn’t put a damper on another record-breaking day on the Bass Pro Tour thanks to some St. Lawrence River smallmouth.
That 45-minute lightning delay Tuesday afternoon might not have helped any other angler more than Gerald Spohrer. The Louisiana pro was able to take advantage of the slick-calm conditions after the delay to the tune of 73 pounds of smallmouth to end his day with 35 bass for 130 pounds, 8 ounces.
“Today was awesome but tomorrow is what really matters,” Spohrer said immediately following his Knockout Round win. “I rolled up to this area after the storm and it was slick and sunny. I was able to see everything and there were 4-pounders everywhere. I just plucked them all off one-by-one while sight fishing.”
This will be Spohrer’s third Championship Round appearance of the 2021 season, and keeps him well in the hunt in the Angler of the Year race. The Grundens pro entered Stage Five sitting in ninth place in the AOY standings, 50 points behind leader Ott DeFoe. With DeFoe missing the cut in the Knockout Round, Spohrer has a great chance to gain some ground on the two-time winner this year.
While Spohrer prepares for his third Championship Round of the season, Adrian Avena will be getting ready for his first. Avena was able to put together two important fish catches in the final 10 minutes to jump above the Toro Cut Line and into the Championship Round.
The New Jersey pro was sitting in ninth place just 2-5 behind Justin Lucas with only 10 minutes remaining. That’s when the Berkley pro hooked a 5-pounder to bump Lucas into ninth while he moved into eighth. Shortly after, Avena brought in a 4-1 smallmouth that locked him into a Championship Round berth, giving him a much-needed feeling of relief after one of his more stressful days of the season.
“If you want to live a long and stress-free life, I wouldn’t recommend fishing the MLF format,” Avena said jokingly. “I just made the right decisions at the end of the day that paid off. I’m excited to get a shot at it tomorrow. Anything can happen in that Championship Round, but it’s going to be tough to beat my buddy Jacob Wheeler and John Cox. Those guys are dialed in right now.”
As Avena caught his final 4-1, Lucas was able to bring in a 4-5 smallie almost simultaneously. Thanks to that quick spurt of catches, it became Andy Montgomery who found himself just below the Toro Cut Line as time expired. Montgomery received the news that he was in ninth place with just seconds remaining in the round. The South Carolina pro was shocked, but was able to find a silver lining.
“Ain’t nothing you can say,” Montgomery said with a sense of dejection. “I finished 11th on the St. Lawrence River with a spinning rod in my hand all week, which isn’t really my forte. I’m really proud of the way I fished, just came up short this time.”