Andy Morgan on top for Group B at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops - Major League Fishing
Andy Morgan on top for Group B at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops
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Andy Morgan on top for Group B at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops

Tennessee pro catches 11 bass for 38-12 to jump out to 13-pound, 2-ounce lead, Group A to wrap Qualifying Round Wednesday
Image for Andy Morgan on top for Group B at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops
April 25, 2023 • MLF • Press Releases

MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. – As numerous anglers struggled offshore with finicky bass that they could see on their Lowrance Active Target but not convince to bite, pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee , went old-school Tuesday to jump out to an early lead. Morgan went to the bank, flipping and pitching his way to 11 scorable largemouth weighing 38 pounds, 12 ounces, to pace the field early for Group B in the Qualifying Round of General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops.

Pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, caught the largest bass of the day during Period 3 – a 7-pound, 8-ounce largemouth that came on a weightless wacky rig. If Connell’s largemouth remains the largest bass weighed by Group B after the conclusion of the two-day Qualifying Round on Thursday, he will take home a $25,000 Big Bass Bonus. Big Bass Bonuses are awarded throughout the competition, with payouts of $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 being awarded for the single biggest fish in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.

Link to Hi-Res Photo of Group B Day 1 Leader Andy Morgan 
Link to Photo Gallery of Group B Day 1 Afternoon Highlights
Link to Video of Fish-Catch Highlights from Group B Day 1 on Caney Creek Reservoir 

Morgan will bring a 13-pound, 2-ounce, lead over second-place pro and reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, into Thursday’s second day of competition in the Qualifying Round for Group B. Wheeler landed seven scorable bass totaling 25-10, while pro Brent Ehrler of Redlands, California, went on a third-period flurry, catching four scorable bass weighing 19-7 in a one-hour timespan in Period 3 to finish the day in third place.

The 15 anglers in Group B will now have the day off Wednesday, while the 15 anglers in Group A will wrap up their two-day Qualifying Round. Group B will complete their two-day Qualifying Round of competition on Thursday.

“I was totally blindsided, I had no idea that this would happen and today was way better than I expected,” Morgan said. “I went into this little area – I wouldn’t say totally blind, because I had a couple of bites in there during practice – but I figured that I was just going to try to start out doing some shallower fishing. And then I kept getting bit.

“It was kind of crazy honestly, I had no idea that I was going to catch them like that,” Morgan said. “I thought I could maybe get a couple of bites to get a start, but I was really shocked that I caught as many bass as I did. Because that place is tiny. It’s like a pond. And I was just shocked nobody else was around, and I was shocked that there were no locals. It was a very nice surprise.”

Morgan said he caught his bass on two baits – mainly a Zoom Z-Craw, but he did add a couple of keepers on a Strike King Rage Bug.   

“Now it’s just like, OK, I hope this lasts another day so I can hang on,” Morgan said. “I would love to win this (Qualifying) round and skip the Knockout round and go straight to the Championship (Round), but I know that’s going to be a tough road to hoe, for sure. What I’m doing is very fragile. It’s shallow, fragile, and it can’t take a lot of pressure. And I leaned on it a lot today, a really small area.

“I just don’t think there are very many big ones doing what I’m doing, but I’ll take all of the 4 pounders,” Morgan said.

The standings for the 15 pros from Qualifying Group B after Day 1 on Caney Creek Reservoir are:

1st:          Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 11 bass, 38-12
2nd:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., seven bass, 25-10
3rd:         Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., four bass, 19-7
4th:         Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., four bass, 16-12
5th:         Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 16-11
6th:         Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., three bass, 16-6
7th:         Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 15-11
8th:         Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., three bass, 14-7
9th:         Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 13-10
10th:       Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., three bass, 10-6
11th:       Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., two bass, 8-1
12th:       Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, three bass, 7-15
13th:       Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., two bass, 5-5
14th:       Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., one bass, 2-5
15th:       Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., zero bass, 0-0

Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 57 bass weighing 211 pounds, 6 ounces caught by 14 pros on Tuesday, which included two 7-pounders and six 6-pounders caught from Caney Creek Reservoir.

Different from the Bass Pro Tour regular-season events, General Tire Heavy Hitters features anglers competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format in which anglers catch as many scorable bass and as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. A bass must meet the 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable in the Qualifying and Knockout rounds, but for the final day Championship Round a bass must weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable.

The 15 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Monday and Wednesday – the 15 anglers in Group B on Tuesday and Thursday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the top eight anglers from both groups advance to Thursday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round weights are zeroed, and the remaining 16 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Saturday’s final day Championship Round, weights carry over from the Knockout Round and the highest two-day total wins. In addition to the tournament, Big Bass Bonuses are awarded in each round of competition with payouts of $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 awarded to the single biggest fish in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.

Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. CT. The Qualifying and Knockout rounds, Days 1-5, will launch from Caney Creek Hooks Marina, located at 400 Spillway Road in Chatham, Louisiana. The final 10 anglers competing in the Championship Round will launch from Bonner Ferry Road, located five miles northwest of Bastrop off of Highway 593. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLFNOW! live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

On Championship Saturday, April 29, from 1-6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to visit the Bussey Brake boat ramp located at 5373 Boat Dock Road in Bastrop, to celebrate the Top 10 and crown the 2023 General Tire Heavy Hitters Champion at the Watch Party and Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Heavy Hitters Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.

To qualify for General Tire Heavy Hitters, the weight of an angler’s single-largest bass from each event of the seven 2022 Bass Pro Tour events was recorded. The 30 anglers with the heaviest total from those seven bass qualified to compete in this event.

The MLFNOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLFNOW! will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2023 Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Aug. 5 and running each Saturday through Sept. 9 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.

Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF General Tire Heavy Hitters Event include: Abu Garcia, B&W Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Builders First Source, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Kubota, Lowrance, Lucas Oil, Mercury, Mossy Oak, NITRO Boats, Onyx, Phoenix Boats, Plano, Power-Pole, Shore Lunch, StarBrite, Sqwincher, T-H Marine, Toyota, United States Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, and YETI.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

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