Randall Tharp ended Elimination Round 1 in seventh place, advancing to the Knockout Round on Saturday.

RALEIGH, N.C. – It has become one of the most interesting (and in some cases, gut-wrenching) focal points of the young MLF Bass Pro Tour season: the battle around the 20th spot in the standings during Elimination Rounds.

That 20th spot – which represents the final qualifier for the Knockout Round – is the definition of “make or break” and has created some of the highest moments of drama in the history of professional bass fishing.

If you’re Jacob Powroznik, you love it today: the Virginia pro weighed in 12 pounds, 13 ounces of Falls Lake largemouth to finish with a two-day total of 32-14, good for 20th in Group A at the Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Three Raleigh Presented by Evinrude. If you’re Michael Neal, not so much: the Tennessee pro put 17-4 on SCORETRACKER on the day, but fell 2 ounces short of Powroznik for the coveted final spot with 32-12.

“Well, what can you say: somebody has to be that guy, and today, that’s me,” Neal deadpanned as he waited for the start of the Berkely Postgame Show.

“It was very stressful,” Powroznik admitted. “At about 1 p.m., I was like ‘What am I doing wrong?’ The areas where those fish should be going, they’re just not there yet. The biggest thing is just keeping your head in it. I’m just glad I made it.”

Moving on to Knockout

For the 20 anglers who finished just ahead of Neal in Group A Shotgun and Elimination Round competition, it’s on to Saturday’s Knockout Round, where they’ll be joined by the Top 20 after tomorrow’s second Elimination Round on Falls Lake.

Notable performers on the day included:

  • Andy Montgomery, who landed only four scorable fish on the day, but found a 7-4 and a 6-6 to finish the day in 18th with 34-13. Montgomery boated his 6-6 with 7 minutes left in competition.
  • Jared Lintner, who weighed in 18-12 to finish 16th with a two-day total of 36-0.
  • Josh Bertrand, whose 17-4 gave him 38-8, good for 14th.

Staying Put for Two Days

Unlike the previous competition schedule, there’s no lake swap: after fishing one day on Jordan Lake before switching to Falls, the Knockout Round will stay on Falls. Weights will be zeroed, which means that the heavy work done by round leader Kelly Jordon – who stacked 82-4 up on the first day and added 11-0 to his total today – will be erased.

But thanks to their stout performances on Jordan Lake, Jordon and fellow Top 10 finishers Todd Faircloth, Edwin Evers, Wesley Strader, Greg Vinson, Jacob Wheeler, Randall Tharp, Mark Daniels, Andy Morgan and Mike Iaconelli had the flexibility to more thoroughly scout around Falls in preparation for Saturday’s Knockout Round.

Changing Conditions on Falls

Group B’s Elimination Round on Friday will see mostly sunny skies and daytime highs in the mid-70s, and will be looking for largemouth on a fishery that’s currently in a positive transition from winter to spring: the water temperature rose 7 degrees during Thursday’s competition.

That fact that has shallow-water flippers like Powroznik anxious to fish again, and soon.

“Friday is going to be absolutely beautiful, Saturday is going to be beautiful, so it’s time: these fish are getting ready to spawn,” Powroznik said.

How, When & Where to Watch

Competition begins daily at 7:30 a.m. ET, with live, official scoring available via SCORETRACKER on MajorLeagueFishing.com and on the MLF app. The MLF NOW! live stream starts at 10 a.m. ET, with live, on-the-water coverage continuing until lines out at 3:30 p.m. The Berkley Postgame Show live stream will start at 5 p.m. daily.