MONROE-WEST MONROE, La. – Pro Randy Howell of Guntersville, Alabama, caught a 6-pound, 4-ounce largemouth Friday afternoon on Caney Creek Reservoir – the largest bass weighed on the day – to win the $50,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus at General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops. Howell finished the day in first place with a total of eight bass weighing 29-4 and along with the top eight finishers now earns his way into Saturday’s final-day Championship Round on Bussey Brake and a shot at the $100,000 top prize, along with the $100,000 Big Bass Bonus.
The six-day all-star event, hosted by Discover Monroe-West Monroe and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, showcases the Top 30 pros that qualified via the Bass Pro Tour competing in a no-entry fee tournament for a purse of more than $500,000, including numerous massive Big Bass Bonuses and a payout of $100,000 to the winner.
Link to Hi-Res Photo of Knockout Round Winner Randy Howell
Link to Photo Gallery of Knockout Round Afternoon Highlights
Link to Video of Fish-Catch Highlights from Knockout Round on Caney Creek Reservoir
“Man, that was fun,” Howell said. “I’ve had so many days lately that aren’t fun. Days that just don’t go right. This year at the Bass Pro Tour at Douglas Lake, I was in first place after the first day and I fell all the way to 21st place and was the first one out of the cut. All I had to do was catch one little scorable bass, and for two hours I couldn’t catch one. So, days like that are the days that frustrate you, but days like today are what make it all worth it.
“It’s been a lot of fun today – it was a sight fishing day for us,” Howell said. “We got one this morning, just roaming, on shad, and then the rest of the day was spent sight fishing. I think we caught everything today on the (Yamamoto) Flappin’ Hog and one on a lizard. But the Flappin’ Hog has been the deal.”
When Howell caught his 6-pound, 4-ounce Big Bass in Period 2, he had no idea that it would hold up to be the Knockout Round $50,000 Big Bass Winner.
“I was just roaming around, finding a new fish here and there,” Howell said. “I caught that 6-4 and I really didn’t have any idea that would win $50k today. Dakota (Ebare) had caught two 9s (pounders), and there had been 8s caught every day. So, to win with a 6-4 just shows you how tough the fishing was, with the conditions today. I’ve never won that much money for a big fish before. That is incredible.
“To get the opportunity to go to Bussey Brake tomorrow is just so awesome. I probably worked harder, mentally, on this event than I ever have before; just trying to make sure I got there. And every day I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it. I told my wife last night – I really don’t know what I’m going to do today, but I’m going to pray and trust the Lord, and hopefully just get the right feeling and go to the right place at the right time. And man, it was just a perfect day. I’m so thankful.”
With the Knockout Round now complete, the anglers that finished in first through eighth place advance to Saturday’s Championship Round. The Championship Round will feature Group A Qualifying Round winner Bryan Thrift, Group B Qualifying Round winner Brent Ehrler, and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round competing in a final-day shootout for the top prize of $100,000 along with the $100,000 Berkley Big Bass Bonus.
The top eight pros from the Knockout Round that advance to Saturday’s Championship Round on Bussey Brake are:
1st: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 29-4
2nd: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 28-10
3rd: Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., seven bass, 23-0
4th: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 17-9
5th: Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., four bass, 13-13
6th: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, four bass, 12-5
7th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 10-15
8th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., three bass, 10-7
They’ll be joined by Qualifying Round Winners:
Group A: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C.
Group B: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif.
Eliminated from competition after the Knockout Round on Caney Creek Reservoir are:
9th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., three bass, 8-11
10th: Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., two bass, 6-12
11th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., two bass, 4-4
12th: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., one bass, 2-12
13th: Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., one bass, 2-2
14th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., zero bass, 0-0
Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 54 bass weighing 170 pounds, 8 ounces caught by 13 pros on Friday, which included two 6-pounders and three 5-pounders caught from Caney Creek Reservoir.
Berkley Big Bass Bonus Award Winners:
Qualifying Round Group A: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas (9-5), $25,000
Qualifying Round Group B: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala. (8-5), $25,000
Knockout Round: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala. (6-4), $50,000
Championship Round: TBD, $100,000
The final 10 anglers will launch at Bussey Brake on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. CT from Bonner Ferry Road, located five miles northwest of Bastrop off of Highway 593. Fans are welcome to attend the 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.
Different from 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.
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 each day 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 Airforce, 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 Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.