OSAGE BEACH, Mo. – All week long, Addison, Alabama, pro Jesse Wiggins said that when he closed his eyes, Lake of the Ozarks felt exactly like his home fishery – Lewis Smith Lake in North Alabama. That hometown “feel” was just what Wiggins needed this week. The 32-year-old Alabama angler caught 11 scorable bass Thursday weighing 27 pounds, 11 ounces to win the Bass Pro Tour Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat in Osage Beach, Missouri, and take home the top prize of $100,000.
“Oh my gosh,” said an emotional Wiggins as time expired. “I’m shaking, my videographers shaking, my official is shaking – we’re freaking tore up. I’m just a redneck from Alabama that likes to fish and loves to throw a shaky-head.
“I get here, and the banks look identical to Smith Lake. I mean, identical. And the fish set up identical. It seemed like I could call my shot, all week long.”
Wiggins spent the tournament targeting boat docks with a homemade shaky-head rig. After winning the Group A Qualifying Round, he advanced directly into Thursday’s Championship Round.
“I did exactly what I wanted to do, all week,” Wiggins said. “I grew up throwing a worm – that’s all we did. And we finally get a lake where they’re spawning and they’re biting the shaky-head. When they’re on that thing, I feel like I can win.”
Wiggins’ shaky-head rig was homemade – he fished both a 1/8-ounce and a 3/16-ounce – and he credited his key bait as being a watermelon-candy-colored Jackall Flick Shake worm.
“I always throw my shaky-heads on my 7-foot, 1-inch extra fast St. Croix Legend Elite rod – medium-heavy – with a Quantum Smoke S3 reel,” Wiggins said. “My line was Seaguar – Smackdown 30-pound braid and a 12-pound (Seaguar) Invisx leader. I worked with 12-pound because the water was dingy, and I was throwing it mainly around docks and cables.
“To come away with a win, first place against these guys – Lord have mercy, I can’t even put it into words,” Wiggins said. “My support system back home – they all sacrifice so much. My wife Haley, River, my mom, Haley’s mom, Haley’s sisters, my grandma, my brothers – it’s crazy how much they sacrifice just for me to come out here and chase these things. I am so happy to win this for them. I can’t wait to bring this trophy back home to Addison.”
The Top 10 pros from the Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat finished:
1st: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 11 bass, 27-11, $100,000
2nd: Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., nine bass, 25-4, $45,000
3rd: Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., six bass, 17-11, $38,000
4rd: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 14-0, $32,000
5th: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 13-2, $30,000
6th: Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, four bass, 11-11, $26,000
7th: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., four bass, 10-9, $23,000
8th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., three bass, 10-4, $21,000
9th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., two bass, 4-3, $19,000
10th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., zero bass, 0-0, $16,000
Full results for the entire field can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall there were 49 scorable bass weighing 134 pounds, 7 ounces caught by the final 10 pros Thursday.
General Tire pro Mark Rose earned Thursday’s Championship Round $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award – his second Big Bass Award of the event – with a 4-pound, 9-ounce largemouth that bit a Strike King Finesse jig in Period 1. Brookeland, Texas, pro Dakota Ebare earned the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the overall largest bass of the event with his 6-pound, 14-ounce largemouth that he weighed on Day 1 of competition.
After four regular-season events down in the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season, reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler currently leads with 300 points, while Jordan Lee sits right behind Wheeler in second place with 284 points. Dayton, Tennessee’s Andy Morgan sits in third with 255 points. Jesse Wiggins currently sits in fourth place with 251.5 points, while Alton Jones, Jr., rounds out the top five with 231 points.
The Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat featured anglers competing with a 2-pound 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 Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat was hosted by Central Missouri’s Tri-County Lodging Association, the Lake of the Ozarks Fishing Council and BassingBob.com. The event showcased 80 of the top professional bass-fishing anglers in the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner.
Television coverage of the Bass Boat Technologies Stage Four on Lake of the Ozarks Presented by Bass Cat will premiere as two two-hour episodes at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 15 and Saturday, Oct. 22 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
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, competing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2023 championship.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Covercraft, Favorite Fishing, Garmin, General Tire, Googan Baits, Grundéns, Guaranteed Rate, Humminbird, Lowrance, Luminox, Mercury, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak, Nitro Performance Boats, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop, Rapala, Starbrite, Toro, Toyota, Wrangler, Yellowstone Bourbon and Zoom.
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.