KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Already with a Hall of Fame career that has seen countless memorable moments on the water, 59-year-old B&W Trailer Hitches pro Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Arkansas, showed he still has a few more tricks left up his sleeve. Davis caught 13 scorable bass Friday, with his best five weighing 34 pounds, 10 ounces, to win the Knockout Round and advance to the final day of competition at the Bass Pro Tour B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One on the Kissimmee Chain Presented by Grundéns.
Davis’ total of 34-10 will give him a 10-pound cushion over second-place angler General Tire pro Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tennessee, who weighed in five scorable bass totaling 24-10. Power-Pole pro Chris Lane of Guntersville, Alabama, sits in third place with five bass weighing 23-2, while Addison, Alabama’s Jesse Wiggins weighed in five bass totaling 21-8 to finish the day in fourth. Pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, added to the Toro Cut Line drama, Friday, as the Tennessee pro caught a 6-pound, 3-ounce largemouth as time expired to vault from 13th place into fifth, and bounce out the reigning Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler.
The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition resumes Saturday morning with the Championship Round. In the Championship Round, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total will win the top prize of $100,000.
“Today was a heck of a day for me,” Davis said. “It wasn’t my biggest limit I’ve ever caught – I caught around 42 pounds on this fishery once, I think back in 2001 – but I’m very pleased to have caught 34 (pounds) today. You can never really be comfortable competing in Florida, but 10 pounds is a very nice lead.”
Davis spent the day targeting grass patches and lily pads on a spawning flat in Lake Kissimmee with a Texas-rigged blue craw with red flake-colored Strike King Ocho, with a 3/16-ounce Strike King tungsten weight.
“It was all new water for me today,” Davis said. “This morning on the ride down, I just felt like I needed to go and look at some new water. I pulled into an area that I hadn’t fished – I might have fished it at some point in my career, but it was new this week. I pulled up there and caught one almost 4 (pounds), then a 6-12, and I still didn’t quite have it figured out. But as the day went on I kind of got dialed into the bite, and once I got dialed in, it was game on.”
Another impressive stat that showcases just how special Davis’ day was Friday – although his best five went for 34-10, his next best five scorable fish would have given him a limit for 23 pounds even and he would be in third place.
“I figure I’m going to have to catch at least 15 to 16 pounds tomorrow to have any chance at winning,” Davis said. “One of the reasons I worked so hard today to catch as much as I could was because the weather is going to change. We’re going to have a stout north wind, and there is supposed to be a cold front coming in overnight. It could really turn the fish off, for everybody, so I felt like I needed to amass as much weight as I could, today.”
The Top 10 pros from Friday’s Knockout Round that now advance to Saturday’s Championship Round on the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes are:
1st: Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., five bass, 34-10
2nd: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., five bass, 24-10
3rd: Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 23-2
4th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 21-8
5th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 20-15
6th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., five bass, 20-15
7th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., five bass, 20-5
8th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 19-4
9th: Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 18-14
10th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 18-11
Finishing in 11th through 40th place are:
11th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 18-9, $10,000
12th: Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 18-4, $10,000
13th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 17-15, $10,000
14th: Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., five bass, 17-7, $10,000
15th: Mitch Crane, Columbus, Miss., five bass, 16-10, $10,000
16th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., five bass, 16-8, $10,000
17th: Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., five bass, 16-0, $10,000
18th: Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, five bass, 15-15, $10,000
19th: Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., five bass, 15-13, $10,000
20th: Josh Butler, Hayden, Ala., five bass, 15-7, $10,000
21st: Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, five bass, 14-14, $10,000
22nd: Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., five bass, 14-2, $10,000
23rd: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, four bass, 13-14, $10,000
24th: John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., five bass, 13-14, $10,000
25th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., five bass, 13-13, $10,000
26th: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 13-6, $10,000
27th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 13-5, $10,000
28th: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 12-12, $10,000
29th: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., five bass, 11-12, $10,000
30th: Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., five bass, 11-0, $10,000
31st: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 10-13, $10,000
32nd: Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., five bass, 9-11, $10,000
33rd: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., five bass, 9-10, $10,000
34th: Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, five bass, 9-6, $10,000
35th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., four bass, 7-7, $10,000
36th: Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., two bass, 7-5, $10,000
37th: Shinichi Fukae, Osaka, Japan, three bass, 6-9, $10,000
38th: Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., three bass, 5-7, $10,000
39th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., two bass, 5-4, $10,000
40th: Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., three bass, 5-4, $10,000
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 359 scorable bass weighing 933 pounds even caught by the 40 pros Friday.
Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award went to pro Jesse Wiggins of Addison, Alabama, who caught an 8-pound largemouth in Period 3 on a medium-diving crankbait to earn the payout. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and a $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.
The six-day event, hosted by the Kissimmee Sports Commission, showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of more than $805,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters All-Star event and REDCREST, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Monday and Wednesday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Tuesday and Thursday. After the two-day qualifying round, the Top 20 anglers from each group advanced to Friday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights were zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers competed to finish in the Top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In the Championship Round on Saturday, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total will win the top prize of $100,000.
The final 10 anglers will launch Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET from Big Toho Marina, located at 69 Lakeview Drive in Kissimmee. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the Marina, beginning at 4 p.m. 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, Feb. 18, from 4:30-6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to come in to celebrate the Top 10 and crown the Stage One Champion at the Trophy Presentation. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and take selfies.
The B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Grundéns features anglers competing with a 1-pound, 4-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
The 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, fishing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship, held March 13-17, 2024, on a fishery to be announced.
The MLFNOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down all of the extended action live from the final day of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. MLFNOW! is live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and free via the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the B&W Trailer Hitches Stage One at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Grundéns will air as two, two-hour episodes starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, July 15 on Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery Channel, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG + Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, TORO, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.
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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.