By Dan O'Sullivan - May 18, 2014
DENTON, Tex. – After five days of competition, three days of the Elimination Round and two days of Sudden Death, the Championship Round of the Jack Link’s Major League Fishing 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup was all that was left for six anglers to battle it out for the title.
For the final day, the competition returned to Ray Roberts Lake, the site of the Elimination Round. However, instead of fishing the lower end of the lake that featured open water and easy travel routes, MLF officials tossed the anglers a changeup. Now the playing field was on the upper half of the lake, the timber-choked area of the Buck Creek arm.
Given the time of year, the trick to finding the right bass in this section of the lake was having the ability to ignore seeing a seeming endless forest. Locating underwater structure that held a concentration of bass was critical. Another factor was time management, as many of these anglers are the type to use their ability to make quick decisions and moves to their advantage. There were no easy, quick runs across the lake in this round.
The six finalists were divided into two distinct categories, those with MLF Championship Round experience and those without. Three anglers had qualified for a championship day and three had not.
Anglers with finals experience:
- Brent Ehrler
- Kelly Jordon
- Kevin VanDam
Anglers without finals experience:
- Gary Klein
- Skeet Reese
- Dean Rojas
The final day started with four anglers choosing to venture into the trees, but two anglers, Rojas and Klein stayed and focused on the rip rap surrounding the railroad trestle and passenger car bridges near the launch ramp. Klein and Rojas traded blows early and it looked as though they might run away from the pack by targeting the rip rap with small crankbaits.
While Klein and Rojas were adding points the leaderboard early, there was one angler still on the prowl for something specific. It was the angler that pretty much dominated his first two rounds by producing the big bite. That angler was big fish specialist, Kelly Jordon.
Jordon had set in his mind to find isolated hydrilla patches from the moment the final day began. While it took him a while to locate his first target, he managed to only produce a few transient bites here and there. He eventually found what he was looking for, a concentration of bass, and the result started to reflect on the leaderboard.
Once he found a significant hydrilla patch, Jordon pulled out a lipless crankbait and went to work. From the end of the second period through the rest of the day, Jordon took charge and put on a clinic about how to win an MLF event in tough conditions. Posting seven of his 16 keepers in the last 45 minutes of the day, Jordon was able to swipe the Challenge Cup trophy with a total weight of 22 pounds, 11 ounces.
Klein made it interesting towards the end of the final period by making a late move, catching a 5-pound, 12-ounce largemouth to bump his total weight to 16 pounds, 1 ounce. It was reported that he lost a big fish that could have possibly overtaken Jordon.
Reese performed well in his first Championship Round, weighing in 12 pounds on 10 keepers to finish third. Rojas finished fourth with 10 pounds, 12 ounces, while Brent Ehrler finished fifth with 10 pounds 6 ounces.
Kevin VanDam managed to boat only three keepers for 5 pounds, 10 ounces, largely because the standing timber slowed his style of fishing.
2014 Challenge Cup: Championship Final Standings
|Angler||Weight (lbs)||Total Fish||Avg Weight (lbs)||Biggest Fish (lbs)||Last Fish (lbs)|
|Kelly Jordon||22 lb 11 oz||16||1 lb 07 oz||3 lb 11 oz||1 lb 01 oz|
|Gary Klein||16 lb 01 oz||9||1 lb 13 oz||5 lb 12 oz||5 lb 12 oz|
|Skeet Reese||12 lb 00 oz||10||1 lb 03 oz||3 lb 06 oz||0 lb 13 oz|
|Dean Rojas||10 lb 12 oz||6||1 lb 13 oz||3 lb 01 oz||2 lb 02 oz|
|Brent Ehrler||10 lb 06 oz||7||1 lb 08 oz||2 lb 14 oz||2 lb 12 oz|
|Kevin VanDam||5 lb 10 oz||3||1 lb 14 oz||3 lb 08 oz||0 lb 12 oz|
Kelly Jordon’s Scoring Detail
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 01 oz||0-5||4:30 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||0 lb 15 oz||0-5||4:21 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 06 oz||0-5||4:20 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||3 lb 11 oz||0-5||4:14 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 02 oz||0-5||4:08 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||0 lb 14 oz||0-5||3:51 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 00 oz||5-10||3:47 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Main Lake Shoreline||Standing Timber||2 lb 09 oz||0-5||1:16 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Main Lake Shoreline||Standing Timber||0 lb 14 oz||0-5||1:13 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Main Lake Shoreline||Standing Timber||2 lb 02 oz||0-5||12:50 PM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 00 oz||0-5||11:53 AM|
|Largemouth||Worm, paddletail||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 00 oz||0-5||11:28 AM|
|Largemouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||0 lb 13 oz||0-5||10:14 AM|
|Smallmouth||Lipless Crankbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 05 oz||0-5||8:49 AM|
|Smallmouth||Jig, flipping||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 03 oz||0-5||8:44 AM|
|Largemouth||Spinnerbait||Offshore||Standing Timber||1 lb 12 oz||0-5||8:28 AM|
Stay tuned for what’s ahead for Major League Fishing in the future. More exciting bassin’ wars are in the works.