COLUMBIA, S.C. – Pro Matt Becker of Finleyville, Pennsylvania padded his Day 2 lead Saturday, bringing a five-bass limit to the scale weighing 17 pounds, 8 ounces to remain in control of the leaderboard after Day 3 of the MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Googan Baits Stop 3 Presented by Favorite Fishing – Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina. Becker’s three-day total of 15 bass for 58-10 will give him a 7-pound, 4-ounce cushion heading into the fourth and final day of competition.
Pro Derrick Snavely of Piney Flats, Tennessee, held on to second place with four bass weighing 13 pounds even, for a three-day total of 51-6. Rookie Tai Au of Glendale, Arizona, jumped from 24th place into 9th on Day 3 with a five-bass limit weighing 17-11, while pro Cody Huff of Ava, Missouri, made the biggest leap from 39th place, barely squeezing into the 10th spot by a mere ounce.
With more than a 7-pound lead, Becker is set up nicely for championship Sunday and with the current weather forecast, it seems the sun – and his herring-spawn streak – will continue to shine. However, with a stacked field in the top 10, Becker said he is hedging his excitement and focused on hard fishing on championship Sunday.
“It doesn’t really matter to be in the lead now,” said Becker. “Some of the best fishermen in the world are right behind me – [Anthony] Gagliardi, the hottest fisherman in the world right now Michael Neal – those are some real hammers and they’re right behind me.”
Despite the weather change and rainy conditions Saturday, the 2018 Pro Circuit Rookie of the Year continued his risk versus reward pattern, hitting the edges of points in hopes of finding schooling fish – a pattern that once again kept him at the front of the pack.
“I caught a lot more small fish today, and didn’t catch as many,” said Becker. “I caught three in 10 minutes in the morning and only had two small flurries where I caught three in three casts right before the last storms hit this afternoon. It was not as hot and heavy as it has been, but I’m hoping it was just the weather.”
Becker said once the rain started coming down hard, he was basically just wasting time – time he didn’t have to waste if he wanted to hold on to his lead.
“It was crowded [on the points today], and I got in a bad rotation,” said Becker. “There was a boat on a lot of the spots I wanted to fish. Fortunately, we cut 40 guys after today, so hopefully that opens the lake up more.”
Becker said now it’s just a matter of finishing strong.
“I can’t look in the rearview mirror,” said Becker. “I just have to go out and do my thing. All that really matters is that I catch them because the other guys will really have to catch them to pass me. Hopefully the sun pops out, the fish bite, and I sack up another 17 to 20 pounds to seal the deal.”
The top 10 pros advancing to the final day of competition Sunday on Lake Murray are:
1st: Matt Becker of Finleyville, Pa., 15 bass, 58-10
2nd: Derrick Snavely of Piney Flats, Tenn., 14 bass, 51-6
3rd: Michael Neal of Dayton, Tenn., 15 bass, 51-6
4th: Anthony Gagliardi of Prosperity, S.C., 15 bass, 51-4
5th: Skeet Reese of Auburn, Calif., 15 bass, 51-2
6th: Evan Barnes of Hot Springs, Ark., 15 bass, 50-9
7th: Adrian Avena of Vineland, N.J., 15 bass, 50-0
8th: David Williams of Maiden, N.C., 15 bass, 49-11
9th: Tai Au of Glendale, Ariz., 15 bass, 49-1
10th: Cody Huff of Ava, Mo., 15 bass, 49-1
Anglers finishing 11th through 20th are:
11th: Miles Howe of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., 14 bass, 49-0, $11,000
12th: Ryan Salzman of Huntsville, Ala., 15 bass, 48-11, $11,000
13th: Casey Ashley of Donalds, S.C., 15 bass, 48-8, $11,000
14th: Jason Reyes of Huffman, Texas, 15 bass, 48-8, $11,000
15th: Matthew Stefan of Junction City, Wisc., 15 bass, 48-4, $11,000
16th: Cody Meyer of Star, Idaho, 15 bass, 48-1, $11,000
17th: Kurt Mitchell of Milford, Del., 15 bass, 46-5, $11,000
18th: Cole Floyd of Leesburg, Ohio, 15 bass, 46-5, $11,000
19th: Mike McClelland of Blue Eye, Mo., 15 bass, 46-1, $11,000
20th: Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 14 bass, 46-0, $11,000
For a full list of results visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 222 bass weighing 632 pounds, 10 ounces caught by the 50 pros Saturday. The catch included 36 five-bass limits.
The MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Googan Baits Stop 3 Presented by Favorite Fishing – Lake Murray is hosted by the Capital City Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board.
In Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit competition, the full field of 161 anglers competed in the two-day opening round on Thursday and Friday. The field was cut to 50 anglers on Saturday. Now, the top 10 pros based on their three-day cumulative weight advance to Sunday where the winner will be determined by the heaviest accumulated weight from all four days of competition.
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury, the Pro Circuit Championship, where they will compete for up to $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug. 17-22, and is hosted by Explore La Crosse.
The final 10 anglers will take off at 6:30 a.m. ET on Sunday from Dreher Island State Park, located at 3677 State Park Road in Prosperity. Weigh-in will also be held at the park on Sunday at 3 p.m. Attendance is limited to competing anglers, family, essential staff and media covering the event. Fans are encouraged to follow the action online through the MLF NOW! live stream and coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The MLF Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers, Googan Baits Stop 3 Presented by Favorite Fishing – Lake Murray will feature live on-the-water coverage and a two-hour action-packed television show that will premiere on the Outdoor Channel on Sunday, July 25 from 7 to 9 a.m. ET and re-air on the Sportsman Channel this fall. Weigh-in will be streamed and fans can catch live on-the-water action all day Sunday, April 25 on MLF NOW! beginning at 7 a.m. ET at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit presented by Bad Boy Mowers on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.