Rookie Marshall Robinson wins Group B Qualifying Round at PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury  - Major League Fishing
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Rookie Marshall Robinson wins Group B Qualifying Round at PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury 

South Carolina pro catches two-day total of 115-11 to win Group B Qualifying Round, field of 20 set for Saturday’s Knockout Round
Image for Rookie Marshall Robinson wins Group B Qualifying Round at PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury 
April 12, 2024 • MLF • Press Releases

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Maintaining his spot atop SCORETRACKER® wasn’t Marshall Robinson of Landrum, South Carolina’s primary focus during a windy, cold second day of qualifying for Group B at the Bass Pro Tour PowerStop Brakes Stage Three Presented by Mercury. But the 20-year-old still managed to catch enough Dale Hollow Lake bass while exploring new water Friday that he stayed ahead of Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, TexasDustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, and the rest of his pursuers. Robinson boated eight scorable bass that combined to weigh 23 pounds, 3 ounces, bringing his two-day total to 115-11.

While Jones and Connell both finished within 3-2 of Robinson’s total, the primary drama didn’t come from the top of the leaderboard but the cut line. Seven anglers finished within 10 pounds of 10th place, all of them holding a spot within the Top 10 at some point during Friday’s action. Ultimately, it was Alton Jones Sr. of Lorena, Texas, who claimed the final spot with a two-day total of 71-15.

The remaining 20 anglers – the Top 10 from each group – now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and anglers compete to finish in the Top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Sunday. In Sunday’s final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Link to Hi-Res Photo of Qualifying Group B Winner Marshall Robinson
Link to HD Video – Fish-Catch Highlights of Group B Qualifying Round Day 2 on Dale Hollow Lake
Link to Photo Gallery of Group B’s Day 2 Qualifying Round Highlights on Dale Hollow Lake

A cold north wind howled across Dale Hollow throughout the competition day, increasing until it culminated in a storm that dumped rain and even some hail. Given those conditions, which made it difficult for anglers fishing away from the bank to position their boats and present baits accurately, Robinson was grateful for his 90-plus-pound effort on Wednesday, still the best day of anyone in the field so far. As a result, he didn’t have to catch a scorable bass Friday to qualify for the Knockout Round.

“I told my boat official and my camera guy — we were looking around, there’s like 4-footers crashing around us — and I’m like, ‘Man, it’s a good day to not have to catch them,’” Robinson said. “I definitely enjoyed that. That was super relaxing.”

Robinson didn’t visit any of the areas he’d explored during practice or the first day of competition, instead searching for new spots that fit the pattern he’s discovered. Targeting mostly smallmouth, which accounted for seven of his eight scorable bass Friday, he’s hitting areas that contain gravel, shelf rock and deep-water access in close proximity.

“If you can find that mix on a bank that has good, deep water close by, it’s like a light switch,” he said.

While he’s using forward-facing sonar to locate fish, Robinson said they’re not chasing shad. He believes the smallmouth have mostly been spawners. He’s used a few different finesse techniques to catch them, primarily leaning on a 3-inch Yamamoto Scope Shad in either Tennessee shad or sexy shad on a homemade, 1/4-ounce ball head.

“I think they’re on beds, but I’m making them come up and eat,” Robinson said. “I’ll see a lot of them on bottom, and I’ll throw over top of them, they come flying up and eat it out of anger.”

Robinson thinks the bite will improve as Saturday brings more mild weather. But in his case, his lower weight Friday had more to do with his approach than the conditions. Every time he caught a fish, Robinson said, he saw others with it, but he purposely avoided catching more than one from any group, hoping to save them for the Knockout and Championship Rounds.

“When I would catch one, a lot of times there’d be more, eight or 10 more, and I wouldn’t throw back in there,” he said. “So, I feel good that I found some new stuff.”

Looking to make his first Championship Round appearance in just his third Bass Pro Tour event, Robinson already has a goal in mind for the Knockout Round – 55 to 60 pounds. If he can hit that mark, he thinks he’ll be comfortably clear of the cut line, and he might even give himself more time to practice for a shot at his first professional win.

“I feel good about tomorrow,” Robinson said. “I feel like I need to catch 55 or 60 pounds. … So, I’m going to go out there and try and hit that mark, and if I reach it earlier than expected, I may do some more practicing, try to find some new stuff then.”

While Mother Nature prevented the cut weight from climbing as high as many might have expected given that 11 anglers topped 40 pounds during Group B’s first day on the water, Friday’s brawl to finish among the Top 10 proved to be especially crowded. Eleven anglers wound up finishing within 13-2 of one another, ranging from Shin Fukae in seventh place to Keith Carson in 17th.

Carson started the day in 10th place, but a slow morning caused him to tumble out of the Top 10. Wesley StraderLuke ClausenDean Rojas and Dave Lefebre all hovered around the cut line for most of the day but wound up just short. Mark Davis and Nick LeBrun both made spirited comebacks to put themselves in contention. Davis started the day in 18th place and stacked more than 36 pounds on SCORETRACKER® using a Carolina rig but ultimately finished 8 pounds shy. LeBrun started all the way back in 32nd and climbed as high as 10th with the biggest total of anyone in the field (53-10), but he found himself one spot out of the Top 10 at lines out.

Anthony Gagliardi and Grae Buck, meanwhile, pulled off successful rallies. Starting the day in 14th, Gagliardi started slow with just one scorable bass in the first 3 1/2 hours before catching fire and climbing to ninth. Buck totaled 41-3 to vault from 16th to eighth and make his first Bass Pro Tour Knockout Round. 

Jones Sr. and Fukae did just enough to keep their spots among the Top 10 after strong Day 1 performances. Jones Sr. came through in the clutch, catching a pair of scorable bass in the final 30 minutes to cement his spot in the Knockout Round.

The Top 10 pros from Group B that now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round on Dale Hollow Lake are:

1st:          Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., 37 bass, 115-11
2nd:        Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 38 bass, 112-14
3rd:        Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 39 bass, 112-9
4th:         Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 34 bass, 99-1
5th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 32 bass, 93-5
6th:         Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 30 bass, 83-6
7th:         Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 23 bass, 75-8
8th:         Grae Buck, Green Lane, Penn., 26 bass, 75-3
9th:         Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 27 bass, 74-15
10th:      Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 26 bass, 71-15

Eliminated from competition are:

11th:      Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 21 bass, 67-4
12th:      Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 25 bass, 67-2
13th:      Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 24 bass, 64-7
14th:      Dave Lefebre, Erie, Penn., 26 bass, 64-6
15th:      Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 23 bass, 63-15
16th:      Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 23 bass, 63-5
17th:      Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., 24 bass, 62-6
18th:      Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 19 bass, 51-1
19th:      Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 18 bass, 47-6
20th:      Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 17 bass, 46-11
21st:      Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., 18 bass, 45-10
22nd:     Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, 16 bass, 44-15
23rd:     Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 16 bass, 43-14
24th:      Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 17 bass, 43-14
25th:      Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 14 bass, 43-14
26th:      Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 16 bass, 43-1
27th:      Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., 14 bass, 42-6
28th:      Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La., 14 bass, 38-11
29th:      Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., 13 bass, 37-7
30th:      Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 14 bass, 35-11
31st:      Jason Vance, Battle Ground, Ind., 13 bass, 34-8
32nd:     Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 11 bass, 30-7
33rd:     Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., 10 bass, 29-6
34th:      Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 10 bass, 28-14
35th:      Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., nine bass, 26-5
36th:      Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., seven bass, 25-2
37th:      Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., eight bass, 22-9
38th:      Justin Cooper, Zwolle, La., seven bass, 21-10
39th:      Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 10-9

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

Overall, there were 315 scorable bass weighing 892 pounds, 4 ounces caught by 39 pros Friday, which included 108 3-pounders, 11 4-pounders and one 5-pounder.

Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award was awarded to Fukae, who weighed in a 5-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth that bit his drop-shot rig in Period 2. 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 Byrdstown-Pickett County Chamber of Commerce & Bill Dance Signature Lakes, showcases 79 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 39 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. Now that each two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers that finish first through 10th from both groups advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers compete to finish in the Top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. In the final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers will launch at 7:30 a.m. CT each day from Sunset Marina and Resort, located at 2040 Sunset Dock Road in Monroe. Each day’s General Tire Takeout 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 SCORETRACKER® leaderboard and event 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 four days 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.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, from 1-6 p.m. MLF welcomes fans of all ages to visit Sunset Marina and Resort for the MLF Watch Party and Kids Fishing Derby. 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 each day. Additional fishing gear will be provided onsite for the fishing derby or kids can bring their own. 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.

PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury 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 2-pound 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 79 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. 

The 79 anglers taking on Dale Hollow this week aren’t just battling for a first-place trophy and $100,000 payday. Valuable points in the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year race are also up for grabs. The winner of the season-long competition will take home an additional $100,000 check.

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. You can download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.

Television coverage of PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury Knockout Round will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 5 on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering on Oct. 6. 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 FacebookXInstagram and YouTube.