Jordan Lee not only made $200,000 at Heavy Hitters 2020, he also currently leads the pack for Heavy Hitters 2021. Photo by Phoenix Moore

As they packed to leave Central Florida in mid-June after Toyota Heavy Hitters Presented by Venmo, Jordan and Kristen Lee were faced with the enviable task of fitting a new heavyweight belt and trophy into the extended cab of his tow rig.

Both awards eventually ended up on Kristen’s lap for the 10-hour drive from Kissimmee to Alabama.

They didn’t have too much trouble fitting the $200,000 of Jordan’s winnings into their bank account, though, as Lee took full advantage of the opportunity created by the big-fish payouts at Heavy Hitters.

The Berkley pro won the Championship Round on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain with 52 pounds, 9 ounces to claim a $100,000 check. He also happened to put the heaviest fish of the final day on SCORETRACKER®: a 7-4 that won him an extra $100,000 for big-fish honors (part of a $745,000 prize pool for the groundbreaking big-fish bonanza).

Heavy Hitters Redux in 2021

Thanks to a newly organized 2021 Bass Pro Tour schedule, Lee and 39 other MLF pros will have another opportunity to capitalize on their abilities to find big fish as Heavy Hitters returns in 2021.

“Heavy Hitters was originally created as a one-off event to replace REDCREST when that event was moved to a springtime date, but it was so wildly popular with both the fans and the anglers, we chose to keep Heavy Hitters and eliminate the MLF Cup championship, which everybody knows as the World Championship,” said MLF co-founder Boyd Duckett. “There was such a tremendous level of excitement around the big-fish concept of the first Heavy Hitters – from the minute we announced it, we knew right away that it was an event that we had to try to get on a schedule every year.”

Qualification for Heavy Hitters 2021 will be based upon the same standards originally developed for 2020: total weights of each angler’s sngle biggest bass in five regular-season events. For Heavy Hitters 2021 – which will tentatively be held in the spring – that will mean the five biggest bass each angler weighs in the five 2020 Bass Pro Tour stages (Lake Eufaula, Lake Okeechobee, Lake Fork, the Kissimmee Chain and this week in Sturgeon Bay).

That means that Lake Michigan’s legendary 6-pound smallmouth will play an even bigger role this week than just determining the winner of a single event.

“Heavy Hitters was designed as a big-fish deal from start to finish: big-fish money, higher weight minimums, right down to how the anglers qualify,” Duckett said. “We made the adjustment to include all 80 (this year), but your ability to catch big fish in 2020 is going to decide how you qualify in 2021.”

Current Standings

To nobody’s surprise, Lee holds the No. 1 spot in qualification weight for Heavy Hitters 2021, with 30 pounds, 4 ounces. He caught an 8-0 in Eufaula, a 6-7 at Okeechobee, a 6-15 at Lake Fork, and an 8-14 on the Kissimmee Chain.

RELATED: Full Standings

Andy Morgan (26-14) and Takahiro Omori (26-12) enter Stage Five in second and third, followed by six more anglers with 26 pounds or more.

The current Heavy Hitters final spot is occupied by Cody Meyer with 21-4, with 11 anglers within a pound of him. One quarter of the Bass Pro Tour field of 80 is within a 2-pound range of the 40th and final qualification spot.