CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Shelby, North Carolina pro Bryan Thrift, caught a five-bass limit Friday weighing 17 pounds, 12 ounces – the largest limit of the tournament thus far – to grab the early Knockout Round lead after Day 3 of Bass Pro Shops REDCREST Presented by Shore Lunch, the Bass Pro Tour championship. The field is now trimmed to 15, and competition resumes Saturday as the anglers compete to get inside the Top 10 to advance to Championship Sunday. The five-day event, hosted by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Visit Lake Norman and the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department, features anglers competing to become pro bass fishing’s newest world champion, and a top cash prize of $300,000.
Link to Hi-Res Photo of Knockout Round Leader Bryan Thrift
“I started the first period on the same place I’ve been starting every day, and I caught a pretty good limit on a little ¼-ounce Damiki Underspin with a 3-inch (Damiki) Armor Shad,” Thrift said. “I came out of there with almost 12 pounds, and that gave me the confidence to go and run my big fish pattern – throwing a bigger swimbait around docks.
“I ended up getting four bites on it and they were all 3-pounders, which is a very good day on Lake Norman. I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow. If they keep biting that swimbait and I can keep catching them on this underspin, we might have a chance at this one.”
Behind Thrift in second place is reigning Bass Pro Tour Angler of the Year Jacob Wheeler, who boated five bass weighing 15 pounds, 4 ounces.
“I had a solid day out on Norman and survived Day 1,” Wheeler said. “We have our work cut out for us. I’ve got to catch a big bag tomorrow, to sort of make up that margin on Thrift.
“The thing about Lake Norman is it’s really easy to slip up here,” Wheeler said. “If someone catches 12 pounds and you can catch 16, you can make up that weight margin quickly. But we at least survived and made it to where we have a chance going into the next couple of days. I think I figured something out today, so hopefully we can put that in our hand and go out here and try to reel a couple of bass in again tomorrow.”
The Top 15 pros that made the cut and will advance in competition on Lake Norman:
1st: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 17-12
2nd: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 15-4
3rd: Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, five bass, 14-9
4th: Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 14-4
5th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 14-2
6th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., five bass, 12-3
7th: Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., five bass, 12-3
8th: Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 12-3
9th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 12-0
10th: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 11-15
11th: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., five bass, 11-11
12th: Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 11-9
13th: Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, five bass, 11-7
14th: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., five bass, 11-1
15th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 10-15
Finishing in 16th through 20th place are:
16th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 10-13
17th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 10-13
18th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., five bass, 9-7
19th: Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 8-12
20th: Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., four bass, 7-2
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Overall, there were 173 scorable bass weighing 362 pounds, 10 ounces caught by the 20 pros Friday.
Pro Alton Jones Jr. of Waco, Texas, earned Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award with a stout 5-pound, 7-ounce spotted bass that he caught during Period 1. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler that weighs the biggest bass each day, and a $1,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the largest bass of the tournament.
All 40 Anglers competed on Days 1 (Wednesday) and 2 (Thursday) of the event. After two days of competition, the field was cut to just the Top 20 based on two-day total (10 bass) cumulative weight. Weights were zeroed, and the Top 20 anglers competed on Day 3 (Friday). Now the field is trimmed to 15 anglers on Day 4 (Saturday), then only the final 10 anglers compete on Day 5 (Sunday). The winner is determined by the heaviest three-day total (15 bass) cumulative weight with the winner earning the top prize of $300,000 and the REDCREST 2023 trophy.
The General Tire Take Off Ceremony Presented by X2 Power will begin at 6:15 a.m., Saturday, and 7:15 a.m. on Championship Sunday, at Blythe Landing Park, located at 15901 N.C. 73 HY, in Huntersville, North Carolina. Anglers will depart at 7 a.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. on Sunday. Fans are welcome to attend all launch events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLFNOW! live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
In conjunction with the event, the FREE, family-friendly General Tire Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Shore Lunch will also take place throughout the weekend, March 10-12 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day at The Park Expo and Conference Center, located at 800 Briar Creek Road, in Charlotte. Fishing and outdoor enthusiasts will have the opportunity to visit numerous booths and vendors, showcasing the latest and greatest in fishing, boating and the outdoors. The biggest names in the outdoor industry will be on hand, including the professional anglers that compete on the Bass Pro Tour and fishing legends like Jimmy Houston, Roland Martin and Hank Parker.
Throughout the day there will be giveaways and prizes, including signed MLF angler jerseys, rods and reels, gift cards, and more. On Saturday evening, one lucky attendee will win a Tracker Off Road 300 ATV, and on Sunday one lucky attendee will walk away with a brand new 2023 Toyota Tundra SR5 Crew Max. Fans must be present to win the Grand Prize drawings. For more information on the General Tire Outdoor Sports Expo Presented by Shore Lunch, visit REDCRESTExpo.com.
The 2022 Bass Pro Tour featured a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country. The Top 40 anglers in the Angler of the Year (AOY) standings after the seven events qualified to compete in Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2023 Presented by Shore Lunch.
The MLFNOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action from 7:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Championship Sunday. MLFNOW! will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of Bass Pro Shops REDCREST 2023 Presented by Shore Lunch will be showcased across two, two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, July 1 and July 8 on Discovery Channel. Starting in July 2023, MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery Channel, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG + Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, Toro, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.
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.