Connell Wins MLF Bass Pro Tour Tournament at Cayuga Lake

August 11, 2022
Major League Fishing (MLF) Archive

UNION SPRINGS, N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2022) – In a week where largemouth bass made up more than 80-percent of all of the fish caught on and weighed by the 80 anglers that competed in the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour on Cayuga Lake, Dustin Connell, stuck with smallmouth and bested them all. The Clanton, Alabama pro caught 25 scorable smallmouth bass weighing 96 pounds, 12 ounces, to win the Bass Pro Tour Stage Six on Cayuga Lake in Union Springs, New York on Thursday. The victory was the third Bass Pro Tour win of Connell’s career – second of the season – and earned him the top payout of $100,000.

“I am shook up. This is unbelievable,” an emotional Connell said in his post-game interview. “I worked so hard for this tournament man. I sat out here and battled these waves, every day, and I practiced so hard, from daylight to dark. It’s so special to win two in one year. This is just nuts.

“I’d only been here once before – I came here a couple of years ago for an MLF Cup event on Cayuga,” Connell continued. “I only caught two bass, all day long. And now we’re holding the trophy up. And to win it with smallmouth – this is unreal.”

Connell spent the tournament drop-shotting a variety of baits, using his Lowrance ActiveTarget forward-facing sonar to follow the roaming schools of smallmouth.

“I caught all of my fish this week on a spinning rod. I had seven or eight of them tied up every day,” Connell said. “I was using 12-pound Gold Label Seaguar (fluorocarbon), and a variety of different baits. I was using a green-pumpkin bait. I caught a bunch of key fish on it around all of the structure. For the suspended fish, I caught them on a shad bait. Just following them around. They love to roam during the summer and that’s the best way to catch them.”

The victory tied Connell with Tennessee pro Ott DeFoe for second-most career wins on the Bass Pro Tour all-time list with three. Jacob Wheeler, who finished runner-up to Connell this week, has the most Bass Pro Tour wins with five.

“I look at guys like Jacob and Ott, and to even be mentioned in the same conversation with them, as that type of fisherman… my gosh,” Connell said. “I’m just a kid out here, living his dream. I am so blessed to get this win.”

The top 10 pros from the Stage Six on Cayuga Lake are:

1st:          Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 25 bass, 96-12, $100,000
2nd:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 27 bass, 80-9, $45,000
3rd:         Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 17 bass, 49-7, $38,000
4th:         Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., 17 bass, 48-13, $32,000
5th:         Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 14 bass, 46-10, $30,000
6th:         Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 11 bass, 46-10, $26,000
7th:         Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 14 bass, 43-12, $23,000
8th:         Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, 14 bass, 41-8, $21,000
9th:         Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 11 bass, 32-14, $19,000
10th:       Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., eight bass, 32-14, $16,000

Full results for the entire field can be found at

Overall, there were 158 scorable bass weighing 519 pounds, 13 ounces caught by the final 10 pros on Thursday.

Brookeland, Texas pro Dakota Ebare earned Thursday’s Championship Round $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award, and the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the overall largest bass of the event, with a massive 7-pound, 10-ounce smallmouth that bit a Strike King Baby Z-Too during Period 1. Ebare’s giant smallmouth was just 10 ounces shy of the New York state record that was set on Cayuga Lake in late June.

After six regular-season events in the 2022 Bass Pro Tour season, reigning  Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler leads with 459 points with just one event left in the regular season, while Jordan Lee is in second place with 394 points. Dayton, Tennessee’s Andy Morgan sits in third with 373 points. Texas pro Alton Jones currently sits in fourth place with 356.5 points, while Randall Tharp rounds out the top five with 352 points.