KVD Leads MLF Pro Tournament on Cayuga Lake

June 6, 2023
Major League Fishing (MLF)

UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. (June 6, 2023) – Just prior to the start of the 2023 Bass Pro Tour season, the winningest professional bass angler of all-time, Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Kevin VanDam, announced that he is retiring and that the 2023 season would be his last as a touring professional. The seven-event Bass Pro Tour season would be his farewell tour.

Tuesday, on Cayuga Lake, VanDam showed that he is not going away quietly.

VanDam caught 12 scorable smallmouth bass, with his best five weighing 28 pounds, 1 ounce to take the early lead in Qualifying Group A on Day 1 of the of the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Stage Five tournament on Cayuga Lake remain fairly tight throughout the remainder of the top 20, as 20 pounds, 1 ounce is the current mark to break inside the Cutline and advance to the Knockout Round.

Pro Cliff Pace of Petal, Mississippi, had his best day of the year catching a limit weighing 25-15 to end the day in second place, while reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, ended the day in third with five bass weighing 25-10. Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma , caught 25-3 to end the day in fourth, while pro Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Arkansas, rounds out the top five with five bass weighing 24-11.

The 40 anglers in Group A will now have an off day from competition on Wednesday, while the 40 anglers competing in Group B will begin their first day of competition. Group A will resume competition on Thursday.

“Today was a really good day. I got to do what I really love to do – sight-fish for smallmouth,” VanDam said in his post-game interview. “I love to fish that way, it’s something that I’ve been doing my whole life. Just put a spinning rod in my hand, grab a Ned rig, a drop-shot rig, a big tube – all of those finesse baits. A lot of the time they’ll bite on one cast, but today I really had to work for it.”

VanDam targeted spawning smallmouth with a mix of techniques and Strike King baits, including a Baby Z-Too, a Dream Shot and a Half Shell.

“This lake is a tremendous fishery and they’re all really healthy fish – they weigh so big,” VanDam said. “The good thing is it should keep getting better as the week goes on – there should be a lot more fish coming in. There is a huge population of bass in this lake, and they spawn the whole month of June up here.

“We’re off to a really good start, and hopefully we can do the same thing again on Thursday and then we’ll go from there,” VanDam went on to say. “We’re in a great position right now and I feel really good about it, but it is a long week.”

The standings for the 40 pros in Group A after Day 1 on Cayuga Lake are:

1st:        Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 28-1
2nd:       Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., five bass, 25-15
3rd:       Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 25-10
4th:        Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., five bass, 25-3
5th:        Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., five bass, 24-11
6th:        Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., five bass, 24-6
7th:        Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., five bass, 24-3
8th:        Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 23-12
9th:        Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., five bass, 23-3
10th:     Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., five bass, 22-15
11th:     James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., five bass, 22-10
12th:     Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 22-3
13th:     Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., five bass, 22-2
14th:     Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 22-1
15th:     Alton Jones Sr., Lorena, Texas, five bass, 21-15
16th:     Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 21-9
17th:     Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., five bass, 21-8
18th:     Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 21-4
19th:     Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, five bass, 20-14
20th:     Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., five bass, 20-1
21st:      Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., five bass, 19-15
22nd:    Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., five bass, 19-4
23rd:     Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., five bass, 19-1
24th:     Jacob Wall, New Hope, Ala., five bass, 19-0
25th:     Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., five bass, 18-7
26th:     Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., five bass, 18-3
27th:     Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 17-15
28th:     Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., five bass, 16-12
29th:     John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., five bass, 16-9
30th:     Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 16-9
31st:      Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., five bass, 15-7
32nd:    Shinichi Fukae, Osaka, Japan, five bass, 15-6
33rd:     Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, five bass, 15-4
34th:     Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., five bass, 15-2
35th:     Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., five bass, 15-1
36th:     Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, five bass, 14-11
37th:     Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., five bass, 14-3
38th:     Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., four bass, 12-9
39th:     John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., five bass, 12-8
40th:     Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., two bass, 5-13

Overall, there were 444 scorable bass weighing 1,447 pounds, 2 ounces caught by the 40 pros Tuesday, which included 32 5-pounders and four 6-pounders.

Pros Dakota Ebare and Brandon Coulter tied for Tuesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, as each weighed in a largemouth totaling 6-pounds, 9-ounces, to claim a share of the daily award. 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.