Final 10 anglers set for Championship Sunday at Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick at Santee Cooper Lakes - Major League Fishing
Final 10 anglers set for Championship Sunday at Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick at Santee Cooper Lakes
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Final 10 anglers set for Championship Sunday at Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick at Santee Cooper Lakes

Ohio pro Cole Floyd catches 14 bass weighing 46-9 to pace Saturday’s Knockout Round, final 10 anglers set for Championship Sunday
Image for Final 10 anglers set for Championship Sunday at Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick at Santee Cooper Lakes
February 24, 2024 • MLF • Press Releases

CLARENDON COUNTY, S.C. – For most of his first three days on the water at the Suzuki Stage Two Presented by Fenwick at the Santee Cooper lakes, pro Cole Floyd of Leesburg, Ohio, lurked just behind the leaders – safe from the cut line but never really threatening to overtake for the top spot on SCORETRACKER®. He qualified for Saturday’s Knockout Round by finishing ninth in Group A, then hovered in the middle of the Top 10 throughout Saturday’s action.

Until the final few hours, that is. 

During an explosive Period 3 that saw Santee Cooper’s big bass start snapping for just about everyone in the field, Floyd boated eight bass weighing a combined 28 pounds, 6 ounces. That brought his total on the day to 46-9, vaulted him into the top spot on the leaderboard and sent a clear message to the rest of the field that he’s not to be overlooked during Sunday’s Championship Round. 

Link to Hi-Res Photo of Knockout Round Winner Cole Floyd
Link to HD Video – Fish-Catch Highlights of Knockout Round on Santee Cooper
Link to Photo Gallery of Knockout Round Afternoon Highlights

Seeking his first win as a touring pro, Floyd will have his work cut out for him. Looming within the top five were pros Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Alabama, who stacked up an epic 42-6 on just six bass; Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, the six-time Bass Pro Tour champion; and pro James Watson of Lampe, Missouri, who caught a pair of 8-plus-pounders Saturday.

The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition resumes Sunday morning with the Championship Round. In the Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Floyd, who hasn’t had a camera in his boat all week, doesn’t mind operating outside the spotlight. He said he relishes the underdog role.

In fact, he wasn’t necessarily trying to finish the Knockout Round in first place. He spent much of Saturday running new water, and he just happened to hit a productive area in Lake Marion during the final couple hours. He added to his total as he sampled the bass population living there.

“Every time I got off pad with my boat, it seemed like I could get a bite,” Floyd said. “Everything was just kind of going my way.”

Like much of the field, Floyd has caught his fish winding a bladed jig – in his case, a Strike King Thunder Cricket – around cypress trees, “trying to cover as much water as (he) can.” He believes the key to his hot afternoon was the west wind, which picked up speed as the day progressed and pushed water into his section.

“The wind just seemed to blow in all that mud, that dirty water from the other side of the lake, and it just helped my area a lot more,” Floyd explained. “Stained it up and got it more active.”

Floyd is optimistic that the area he found has plenty of bass to carry him through the Championship Round. However, the forecast – sunny skies, cooler temperatures and a light breeze out of the north – has him concerned that he might have to switch up techniques.

“Obviously, I had a good day today,” he said. “I feel like I’m in a good area to possibly win it, but I feel like the weather is going to hurt me more than anything. I think it’s going to be calmer tomorrow, and it’ll just make the bite tougher.”

Floyd, who will compete in his second career BPT Championship Round, is no stranger to tournament success. He won multiple events at the college level, plus took home three straight Angler of the Year titles in the LBL Division of the Phoenix Bass Fishing League from 2017-2019.

A BPT victory, however, would represent a whole new frontier. Floyd called the prospect of landing his first national win “life-changing.”

“It would be a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve worked my ass off – I’m not super old – my whole life just to have this opportunity, so it would be something very special, that’s for sure.”

The Top 10 pros from Saturday’s Knockout Round that now advance to the final day Championship Round on Santee Cooper Lakes are:

1st:        Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 14 bass, 46-9
2nd:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala, six bass, 42-6
3rd:       Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 39-14
4th:        Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 11 bass, 34-1
5th:        James Watson, Lampe, Mo., seven bass, 32-3
6th:        Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 12 bass, 30-8
7th:        Dave Lefebre, Erie, Pa., nine bass, 29-0
8th:        Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 28-4
9th:        Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 28-0
10th:     Jesse Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 26-14

Eliminated from competition are:

11th:     David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., six bass, 25-8
12th:     Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, six bass, 25-1
13th:     Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., nine bass, 22-0
14th:     Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., six bass, 21-13
15th:     Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., three bass, 14-14
16th:     Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., four bass, 13-1
17th:     Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., three bass, 12-6
18th:     Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 11-4
19th:     Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., four bass, 6-10
20th:     Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., zero bass, 0-0

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 145 bass weighing 490 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 19 pros Saturday. The catch included six 6-pounders, three 7-pounders, and five 8-pounders.

Pros Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Alabama, and James Watson of Lampe, Missouri, tied for Saturday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, as each weighed in a largemouth totaling 8 pounds, 15 ounces. 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 tournament, hosted by the Clarendon County Chamber of Commerce, showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of $659,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2025, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day Qualifying Round on Tuesday and Thursday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. After the two-day Qualifying Round was complete, the anglers that finished first through 10th from both groups advanced to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights were zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers competed to finish in the Top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. Sunday, in the final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, from 1-6 p.m. MLF welcomes fans of all ages to visit the John C. Land III landing for the MLF Watch Party. Fans can watch the pros live on the MLFNOW! big screen, enjoy free food, enter to win hourly giveaways and cheer on their favorite pros. The first 50 kids 14 and under will receive a free rod and reel from Pure Fishing, and the final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration on Championship Sunday to meet and greet fans, sign autographs and take selfies.

The final 10 anglers will launch at 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday from the John C. Land III Landing, located at 4404 Greenall Road in Summerton. Sunday’s General Tire Takeout and Championship Celebration will be held at the park, 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 .

The MLFNOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on the final day of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. MLFNOW! is live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

Suzuki Stage Two at Santee Cooper Lakes Presented by Fenwick features the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers catch as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. The tournament features anglers competing with a 1-pound, 8-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. The MLF Fisheries Management Division determines minimum weights for each body of water that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

The 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, for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2025 championship. 

Bass Pro Tour anglers also compete throughout the 2024 season for the prestigious Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) award and its $100,000 payday. Fishing Clash – an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide – is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League.

Television coverage of Suzuki Stage Two at Santee Cooper Lakes Presented by Fenwick will premiere as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Sept. 21 on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering the following Saturday on Sept. 28. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, BUBBA, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, Garmin, General Tire, Humminbird, Lowrance, Mercury, MillerTech, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak Fishing, NITRO, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Rapala, StarBrite, Suzuki, Toyota and U.S. Air Force.

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 FacebookX , Instagram and YouTube.