GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (May 19, 2023) – Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tennessee, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 16 pounds, 4 ounces, to win the Qualifying Round for Group B Friday at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour tournament at Lake Guntersville. Over two days, Becker caught 10 bass weighing 46 pounds, 13 ounces to earn the first Qualifying Round victory of his career and advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round.
“I’m definitely happy to win the Qualifying Round, but I realize this is just the beginning,” Becker said in his post-game interview. “It’s going to be an absolute slugfest here this weekend, and it’s going to take some serious weight. Hopefully we’ve found enough, but I’m not sure. I’m not feeling too good about it after this afternoon – those guys behind me were catching some big fish.”
Although Becker didn’t come close to matching his 30-pound total from the first day of competition Friday, he also did not fish his best areas. He spent his day covering new water with a Carolina rig, trying to find more options for the weekend.
“I didn’t go to my best stuff today – there really was no reason for me to,” Becker said. “I was pretty much moving on to the Knockout Round no matter what, today, so I drove past some of it to look, but I didn’t go there.
“It’s probably going to be a boat race to the areas with a couple of guys tomorrow,” Becker continued. “It’s kind of a community hole, so we’re really going to have to lighten up the boat and get ready to race in the morning.”
Becker had no problem finding fish, but he struggled to get any bites until he switched to a bait that he doesn’t typically throw – a Carolina rig.
“Today, it was all about the Carolina rig, which if you know me you know that is not me at all,” Becker said. “That was the only thing that I could really get them to bite today. I used a ½-ounce Epic Tungsten Carolina-rig weight, tied to a swivel with a couple of beads, and then running that down to a Trokar TK100 5/0 standard worm hook. I’m throwing it on 15-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon line with a Favorite (Fishing) Hex 7-foot, 6-inch heavy rod.
“Just dragging that around today I was able to catch a couple of fish, which was cool, but I really don’t feel very confident going into the Championship Round,” Becker went on to say. “I kind of beat up the fish that I’d been fishing for, and these guys behind me are catching a lot of big ones. It’ll take some serious weight to move onto the Championship round, so I’m going to have to adjust and hopefully find some new ones tomorrow.”
Reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, caught a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 43-7 to finish the round in second place, while Lynchburg, Virginia pro David Dudley ended the round in third place with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 42-12. Brent Ehrler of Redlands, California, caught 10 bass weighing 42-10 to land in fourth, while Bryan Thrift of Shelby, North Carolina, will advance to the Knockout Round with a two-day total of 10 bass weighing 41 pounds, 8 ounces to round out the top five.
The remaining 40 anglers – the top 20 from each group – now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round, where weights are zeroed, and the anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round on Sunday. Weights will carry over from the Knockout Round into the Championship Round, which will feature the final 10 anglers competing for the heaviest two-day cumulative total and the top prize of $100,000.
The top 20 pros from Group A that now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round on Lake Guntersville are:
1st: Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 46-13
2nd: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 10 bass, 43-7
3rd: David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 10 bass, 42-12
4th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 10 bass, 42-10
5th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 10 bass, 41-8
6th: Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 10 bass, 40-8
7th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 40-5
8th: Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 10 bass, 40-0
9th: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 10 bass, 36-15
10th: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 36-13
11th: Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., 10 bass, 36-10
12th: Brett Hite, Phoenix, Ariz., 10 bass, 36-2
13th: Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Ala., 10 bass, 35-5
14th: Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 35-4
15th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 10 bass, 34-14
16th: Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 10 bass, 34-0
17th: Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 10 bass, 33-15
18th: James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 10 bass, 33-14
19th: Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., 10 bass, 33-12
20th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., 10 bass, 33-5
Eliminated from competition are:
21st: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 10 bass, 33-2
22nd: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 10 bass, 32-3
23rd: John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., nine bass, 32-1
24th: Alton Jones, Sr., Lorena, Texas, 10 bass, 31-13
25th: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 10 bass, 30-6
26th: Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 30-3
27th: Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 10 bass, 30-3
28th: Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., 10 bass, 29-4
29th: Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 10 bass, 29-3
30th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 10 bass, 28-3
31st: Mitch Crane, Columbus, Miss., 10 bass, 27-8
32nd: Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., eight bass, 26-12
33rd: Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., eight bass, 26-5
34th: Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., 10 bass, 25-7
35th: Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., 10 bass, 23-11
36th: John Murray, Spring City, Tenn., 10 bass, 22-15
37th: Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., eight bass, 21-14
38th: Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., nine bass, 21-14
39th: Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, seven bass, 16-1
40th: Tommy Biffle, Wagoner, Okla., four bass, 8-0
Overall, there were 323 scorable bass weighing 943 pounds, 3 ounces caught by the 40 pros Friday, which included 15 5-pounders, one 6-pounder and two 7-pounders.
Friday’s $1,000 Big Bass Award was awarded to pro David Dudley, who weighed in a 7-pound, 9-ounce largemouth which bit his signature Perfection Lures Wacky Worm 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.