By Dan O'Sullivan - April 8, 2014
DENTON, Tex. – The opening round of any Jack Link’s Major League Fishing event brings new surprises for the competitors. In keeping with that tradition, the officials of MLF had a couple of wrinkles in store for the competitors of Elimination Day One of the 2014 Shell Rotella Challenge Cup near Denton, Texas.
The moment they left the parking lot, the anglers were completely in the dark as to where they were headed. One of the new rules instituted for the event made sure that no angler could do research on their smart phone on the way to the lake.
The anglers didn’t know where they were competing on once again. They did not know that they were headed to Ray Roberts Lake, a Corps of Engineers lake that featured groves of standing timber. What they did know was that they were in the Denton, Texas, area and they knew the anglers that they would be competing against.
Once the anglers were set free on Ray Roberts, they had a choice fish the main lake area that had rocky points and flats, or venture into one of the timber laden creeks and pick their way through the timber. Being that it was the early fall, most of the anglers chose the creeks, thinking that the shad population would be headed that way.
Navigating the wood-choked pockets, coves and creeks proved interesting as it took the field a little while to start registering catches. In fact, there was almost a fifty-fifty split between those who started putting it together in the morning, and those who took until lunchtime or beyond to register their first catches.
The one who figured things out the best on Elimination Day One was Ardmore, Okla., pro Jeff Kriet. The finesse fishing aficionado picked apart the cover a little better than the rest of the field and managed to win the day using a variety of lures including swim jigs, worms, spinnerbaits and swimbaits.
Kriet managed to put together nine keepers that registered on the scoreboard. While there were those who caught more, his average size was slightly higher, and that allowed him to win the day with 15 pounds, 1 ounce. Kriet’s total included the largest fish of the day, a 4-pound, 10-ounce chunk that he caught in the afternoon.
Skeet Reese managed to catch 14 pounds, 10 ounces and qualify for his second consecutive trip to the Sudden Death Round . He was followed by Alton Jones at 14 pounds and Gary Klein who managed to pull together 13 pounds, 11 ounces to be the fourth and final qualifier.
The anglers not able to move on were Mike McClelland with 11 pounds, 1 ounce; Greg Hackney with 6 pounds, 5 ounces; Shaw Grigsby with 4 pounds, 9 ounces; and Tommy Biffle with 2 pounds, 15 ounces.
The top four anglers of Elimination Day One advanced to the Sudden Death Semifinal Round, but they would have to wait another two days to find out whom they would be competing against, and where the battle would take place.
Watch Outdoor Channel on Saturday, April 12, to see which of the anglers competing on Day Two of the Elimination Round will get the chance to move on to the Sudden Death Semifinal and, hopefully, on to the Championship of the 2014 Challenge Cup.
2014 Challenge Cup: Elimination Day One Final Standings
|Angler||Weight (lbs)||Total Fish||Avg Weight (lbs)||Biggest Fish (lbs)||Last Fish (lbs)|
|Jeff Kriet||15 lb 01 oz||9||1 lb 11 oz||4 lb 10 oz||0 lb 13 oz|
|Skeet Reese||14 lb 10 oz||10||1 lb 07 oz||3 lb 05 oz||0 lb 14 oz|
|Alton Jones||14 lb 00 oz||11||1 lb 04 oz||2 lb 12 oz||1 lb 06 oz|
|Gary Klein||13 lb 11 oz||8||1 lb 11 oz||3 lb 03 oz||0 lb 15 oz|
|Top four anglers advance, bottom four are eliminated|
|Mike McClelland||11 lb 01 oz||9||1 lb 04 oz||2 lb 00 oz||2 lb 00 oz|
|Greg Hackney||6 lb 05 oz||4||1 lb 09 oz||3 lb 10 oz||1 lb 02 oz|
|Shaw Grigsby||4 lb 09 oz||4||1 lb 02 oz||1 lb 06 oz||1 lb 06 oz|
|Tommy Biffle||2 lb 15 oz||2||1 lb 08 oz||1 lb 11 oz||1 lb 11 oz|