By Dan O'Sullivan - February 16, 2016
There always some anticipation leading up to each Major League Fishing event. The anglers seem to sense competition is about to become more intense, and when you couple the fact they don’t know exactly what body of water they are going to fish, the anxiety climbs.
When the field of 24 regulars and the six Selects anglers, who qualified from the 2016 Summit Select event, set foot in La Crosse, Wis., for the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2016 General Tire Summit Cup, they knew there was a possibility they would be competing on the upper Mississippi River. The only caveat being they did not know which pool.
Pool selection would dictate the type of baits and techniques they would use, as well as which species of black bass they would target. However, without that bit of information, each angler had to prepare for all scenarios.
Pool 7 is an areamany of the anglers – especially those on the Bassmaster Elite Series – are familiar with from past tournaments. Pool 7 provides anglers options of fishing main river current, or backwater areas with aquatic vegetation.
Jeff Kriet was the first angler to post a score on the SCORTRACKER LIVE leaderboard, by fishing an area he had been on before. However, MLF events have proven one thing; the person who strikes first doesn’t always have the last laugh.
Several anglers got on little flurries of activity and were able to overtake Kriet in the first period. However, it was Brent Chapman who proved to be the most impressive. The Lake Quivira, Kansas, pro located a main river bank with laydown logs and flipped a soft-plastic creature bait to largemouth holding there. He was able to string together a nice batch of catches to make him the early leader.
As the day wore on, Kevin VanDam, Kriet and others made attempts to overtake Chapman’s lead, but it was another qualifying Select angler who managed to get the job done.
Ott DeFoe had chosen a typical summer approach for river fishing. Targeting current breaks in the main river with a variety of moving lures, including a small swimbait, DeFoe found a winning pattern.
By the end of the day, DeFoe’s swimbait pattern was enough to overtake Chapman’s power-flipping pattern to take the win by a small margin. DeFoe produced 28 keepers for a total of 33 pounds, 2 ounces, less than a pound and a half in front of Chapman with 31 pounds, 15 ounces.
VanDam finished third with 29 pounds, 6 ounces, followed by Bobby Lane in fourth with 27 pounds even.
The top four anglers – DeFoe, Chapman, VanDam and Lane – advance to the Sudden Death Semifinal Rounds where they will race to be one of the first three anglers to reach a predetermined cut-weight.
Anglers finishing fifth through tenth place were eliminated from competition.