Jordan Lee racked up 32-10 during Qualifying Round 4 action on Lake Okeechobee, enough for first in Group B. Photo by Phoenix Moore
By Tyler Brinks - February 24, 2020
OKEECHOBEE, Fla. – While the prediction of better fishing due to the improved weather never materialized, there was no shortage of excitement today at the Bass Pro Tour Favorite Fishing Stage Two Presented by Bass Cat on Lake Okeechobee.
The fourth and final Qualifying Round produced an identical catch total to yesterday with 110 scorable bass on SCORETRACKER®, and while the fishing quality remained the same, there was much more drama for Group B.
Monday, it was all about highs and lows and come-from-behind stories. A remarkable nine anglers fell out of the Top 20 to be replaced by anglers who were on the outside looking in when the day began.
Much of that movement happened late in the day with two anglers jumping in with less than 10 minutes remaining.
“It’s been a wild Period 3!” MLF NOW! host Chad McKee said after the flurry of changes in the third period, and “wild” is an understatement for the day’s action.
There were plenty of storylines today, but as he does so often, Jordan Lee stole the show, moving from dead last to first place.
Jordan Lee Rallies
Like Zack Birge the day before, Lee entered the day with nothing to lose. He took a chance on an area that he fished years ago and it produced for him.
“Obviously I struggled the first day and I felt like the water I found in practice wasn’t going to produce today because of the wind and cold we’ve had,” Lee said.
Like he did at Lake Eufala, Lee leaned on his experience and made it work to the tune of eight bass for a tournament-best 32-8. He took the lead early in Period 3 and never looked back.
“I had a day to think about what to do and I thought of one section of canals that I fished when I was in college,” Lee recalled. “That trip was right after a big cold front and we caught them there. Fishing the canals is not what you normally do on Okeechobee if you want to compete, but I just wanted to catch something. The way the lake is fishing now, it is the only place I knew to try.”
Looking ahead, Lee is hoping he can get one more day out of his area and contend for his second career Bass Pro Tour victory.
“I’m excited I made it, obviously, but there were a few other boats in there, and they all advanced,” he said. “Who knows? I may pull something else out my hat.”
Rojas Drops to Second
Dean Rojas was on top of his group at the start of the day, but managed just three bass for 7-0 for a two-day total of 27-08. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort, though.
“I tried my hardest, I just never had a big bite,” Rojas said. “I’m going to think about my game plan and will have to make an adjustment. I missed an opportunity to qualify for the Championship Round, but I plan to change areas for tomorrow.”
Bertrand Rises to Third
Josh Bertrand started the day in eighth place, and once he felt he was safely inside the cut, he began exploring for new waters and may have found something to build on. He ended the day with seven bass for 16-10, bringing his total to 25-7.
“I’m definitely happy with today; I just wanted to make the cut. I stayed in one area until I thought I was safe,” Bertrand said. “During Period 3, I went to another area and was able to catch them on a few different techniques.”
Lee was not alone in starting at the bottom and still managing to qualify for the Knockout Round.
Jeff Sprague had the second-best day in the field today with eight bass for 20-3 and rocketed from last to seventh.
Stephen Browning had a similar trajectory with a last-to-12th jump with seven bass for 18-02. Remarkably, all Browning’s fish came in the final three hours of the day.
Joining Lee, Sprague, and Browning inside of the Top 20 were: Todd Faircloth (21st to 9th), Brent Chapman (23rd to 14th), Cliff Pace (24th to 15th), Alton Jones (28th to 19th), James Elam (29th to 18th), and Andy Morgan (31st to 16th).
Elam and Jones scored bass in the final 10 minutes to advance to the Knockout Round.
The nine anglers who fell from the Top 20 were: Alton Jones, Jr. (9th to 26th), John Murray (10th to 23rd), Jared Lintner (12th to 25th), Terry Scroggins (14th to 29th), Tommy Biffle (15th to 24th), Roy Hawk (16th to 30th), Randy Howell (17th to 32nd), Aaron Martens (19th to 27th), and Boyd Duckett (20th to 21st).
The 38 total qualifiers from Groups A and B head back out on Okeechobee for one more day on the water for the Knockout Round. The weather forecast is for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 85 degrees.
Qualifying Round daily awards were:
- The Berkley Big Bass of the day was Scott Suggs’ 6-10.
- Jeff Sprague put the most fish on SCORETRACKER® with eight bass on the day.
- Jordan Lee earned the Phoenix First award with 32-10.
How, When, Where to Watch
Watch all three periods of Tuesday’s Knockout Round on the MLF NOW! live stream beginning at 7:45 a.m EST. Watch free on MajorLeagueFishing.com, the MLF app or the MyOutdoorTV app.
The General Tire Takeout begins at approximately 4:15 p.m. EST after each day of competition.