BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Toyota Series angler Adam Wagner of Cookeville, Tennessee, brought a five-bass limit to the scale Friday weighing 16 pounds, 10 ounces to win the three-day Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. at Dale Hollow Lake in Byrdstown, Tennessee. Wagner’s three-day total of 15 bass weighing 53-11 earned him the win by a whopping 10-pound, 12-ounce margin over second-place angler Brandon Cline of Wheelersburg, Ohio, and earned Wagner the top payout of $86,575, including the lucrative $35,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 contingency award, in the second tournament of the 2021 Toyota Series Central Division Presented by Neat Companies.
“It was pretty awesome being able to lead wire-to-wire,” Wagner said of his most recent of 16 career wins in MLF competition – four on Dale Hollow. “My win last year [on Dale Hollow Lake] was really awesome, too. That was one of my favorite wins because of the way I found them and the comeback, but this one is pretty special, too.”
His finish adds another Top-10 finish to Wagner’s resume, bringing his total Top-10 finishes to 70 in the last 20 years.
“I was rattled coming into the final day because I only had five bites on Day Two,” he admitted. “I had one area that I had saved that I thought I could go in and catch five. I saved it for today and they bit really good. I caught all my fish in that one area.
“[On Day 2] I pulled into that area I was saving, and I almost fished it, but I’m really glad I didn’t.”
Wagner weighed in 10-pounds, 13-ounces less on Thursday than he did on Wednesday, and said he was certain his lead would evaporate by the end of the Day 2 weigh-in. However, nearly everyone strugged that day due to a cold front that moved Dale Hollow’s impressive bass population off the bank.
Wagner said he knew he’d need to at least catch a limit on Championship Friday to contend for the victory, so he picked up his flipping stick, as he had done all week, and went up shallow.
“I caught every fish in this tournament on a Big Bite Baits Craw Tube in watermelon red, flipping dirt-shallow near run-ins on Wednesday with the rain, and off the bank a little more on Thursday as the cold front pushed fish further from their future beds,” said Wagner.
A second day of cold, sunny conditions moved those same fish back up ultra-shallow on Championship Friday and Wagner said he was ready for them, bringing in a 16-10 bag on a day when Bass Pro Tour angler Bryan Thrift was the only other pro to weigh in a limit.
Wagner said confidence is what made all the difference in this tournament.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” he said. “It’s just a confidence thing – I’ve done this for so long – I just have confidence in everything I do.”
The top 10 pros on the Dale Hollow Lake finished:
1st: Adam Wagner of Cookeville, Tenn., 15 bass, 53-11, $86,575
2nd: Brandon Cline of Wheelersburg, Ohio, 13 bass, 42-15, $20,250
3rd: Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C., 14 bass, 42-9, $14,250
4th: Jimmy Washam of Covington, Tenn., 13 bass, 41-1, $12,250
5th: Robert Reagan of Byrdstown, Tenn., 12 bass, 37-12, $11,250
6th: Derek Remitz of Grant, Ala., 12 bass, 37-7, $9,125
7th: Ryan Salzman of Huntsville, Ala., 12 bass, 35-9, $7,900
8th: Derik Hudson of Concord, Va., 12 bass, 33-14, $7,100
9th: Chase Henley of Kingston, Tenn., 10 bass, 30-7, $5,900
10th: Steve Lopez of Oconomowoc, Wis., 11 bass, 29-2, $4,500
A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
Wagner and Mason Sapp of Campbellsville, Kentucky, each took home an additional $75 for the Day One Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, with a bass weighing 5 pounds, 11 ounces. Ethan McDonald of Livingston, Tennessee, won the Day Two Berkley Big Bass award in the pro division, bringing a bass weighing 6-pounds even to the scale.
Wagner’s winning total included an extra $35,000 as the highest finishing Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus member. Boaters are eligible to win up to an extra $35,000 per event in each Toyota Series tournament if all requirements are met. More information on the Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus contingency program can be found at PhoenixBassBoats.com.
Bryan McNeal of Cabot, Arkansas, won the Strike King Co-angler Division Friday with a three-day total of seven bass weighing 25 pounds, 5 ounces. McNeal took home the top prize package of a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
The top 10 Strike King co-anglers on Dale Hollow Lake finished:
1st: Bryan McNeal of Cabot, Ark., seven bass, 25-5, Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat w/115-hp outboard
2nd: Timothy Jolley of Monroe, Tenn., eight bass, 24-2, $6,125
3rd: Steven Curtsinger of Buffalo, Ky., nine bass, 24-0, $4,900
4th: Chad Cartwright of Eddyville, Ky., eight bass, 24-0, $3,950
5th: Chris Graham of Blue Ridge, Ga., nine bass, 22-11, $3,450
6th: Pop Catalin of Cookeville, Tenn., eight bass, 22-2, $2,950
7th: Jared Mataczynski of Wausau, Wis., eight bass, 21-15, $2,450
8th: Zach Haitz of Ripley, Ohio, six bass, 21-0, $1,975
9th: Bobby Gray of Lexington, Ky., seven bass, 19-9, $1,590
10th: Bud McKelvey of Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 15-8, $1,350
In the Strike King co-angler division, the $100 Day One Berkley Big Bass award winner was Danell McKinney of West Liberty, Kentucky, with a 5-pound, 8-ounce bass, while the $100 Day Two award went to McNeal with a 5-pound, 5-ounce bass.
The Toyota Series at Dale Hollow Lake was hosted by the Byrdstown-Pickett County Chamber of Commerce. It was the second of three regular-season tournaments in 2021 for Central Division Presented by Neat Companies anglers. The next event for Toyota Series anglers will take place on April 8-10 – the Toyota Series at Grand Lake presented by Fenwick in Grove, Oklahoma. For a complete schedule, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The 2021 Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. consists of six divisions – Central, Northern, Plains, Southern, Southwestern and Western – each holding three regular-season events, along with the International division. Anglers who fish all three qualifiers in any of the eight divisions and finish in the top 25 will qualify for the no-entry-fee Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. Championship for a shot at winning $235,000 cash, including a $35,000 Phoenix MLF BIG5 Bonus for qualified anglers. The winning Strike King co-angler at the championship earns a new Phoenix 518 Pro bass boat with a 115-horsepower Mercury outboard.
The 2021 Toyota Series Championship presented by A.R.E. will be held Oct. 28-30 on Pickwick Lake in Counce, Tennessee, and is hosted by the Hardin County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
For complete details and updated information visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow the Toyota Series presented by A.R.E. on the MLF BIG5’s social media outlets at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.