Hatfield Wins Group B Qualifying Round at MLF Pro Circuit TITLE on the St. Lawrence River

August 19, 2022
MLF Pro Circuit

MASSENA, N.Y. (Aug. 19, 2022) – It was a battle at the top of the unofficial leaderboard for most of the day between several hard-charging pros, but pro Nick Hatfield of Greeneville, Tennessee – the 2022 Rookie of the Year (ROY) – maintained his lead atop the field at the Major League Fishing (MLF) TITLE  – the Pro Circuit Championship – Tournament on the St. Lawrence River in Massena, New York. Hatfield shored up the Group B win Friday, punching his ticket straight through to Sunday’s Championship Round with a five-bass limit weighing 24 pounds, 3 ounces, bringing his two-day total to 46-4. Hatfield finished 2-pounds, 7-ounces ahead of Power-Pole pro Chris Lane of Guntersville, Alabama , who caught a two-day total of 43-13 to end the Qualifying Round in second.  

The top 20 anglers from Group B will move on in the competition. Anglers finishing 21st – 30th earned $10,500 at the event, while anglers finishing 31st – 50th took home $10,000. Group A and Group B Qualifying Round winners will enjoy a day off on Saturday, while the remaining 18 anglers – 9 from Group A and 9 from Group B – will compete in the Knockout Round. Weights will be zeroed, and anglers will compete to finish in the top eight and advance to Championship Sunday.

The Championship Round on Sunday will feature Group A winner Spencer Shuffield, Group B winner Nick Hatfield and the top eight anglers from the Knockout Round, competing in a final-day, five-bass-limit shootout for a top prize of up to $235,000. The six-day event, hosted by the Town of Massena, showcases the top 48 pros in the 2022 Pro Circuit standings, along with last year’s reigning TITLE champion and reigning Angler of the Year – all competing for a purse of more than $800,000.

“I caught a lot of good fish the last two days, but there are a lot of great fishermen right behind me and they were on them as well,” Hatfield said. “I felt like I made some good decisions today and winning this automatic berth to the Championship Round feels good, but I’ve got to get back out there and do it again on Sunday.

“I’m seeing a lot of big fish. I weighed in a 3½ and a 3¼, and lost a couple big ones. The wind is supposed to blow on Sunday, but if I can get to my spot and just lean on them, I think I can catch another 23 to 25 pounds.”

The wind could definitely be a factor for Hatfield, who is making an hour and 45-minute run to his primary spot.

“I had some mechanical issues today, but was able to make it back for the weigh-in. I’ll definitely be getting that fixed on my day off and getting everything prepped and ready to go for the final round.”

Hatfield said he knew he’d found something special in practice but is pleasantly surprised at how much the area is producing.

“I have a mile stretch of isolated clumps of rocks that’s really good. There’s a ton of bait in there – perch and gobies – and I’m even seeing some balls of bait,” Hatfield said. “In practice, you don’t really know the extent of what you’ve got, you just kind of catch a couple then leave it alone. So it’s definitely playing out better than I expected it to.

“Some of the bass are in 20- to 30-feet of water, but most are in 35- to 45-feet. I’m utilizing my (Garmin) LiveScope and moving around until I find some, then just pitching a drop-shot at them. If I see one big fish, there are usually 4 or 5 right there with it and I’m able to catch at least one of them.”

Hatfield only caught 3 bass out of his primary spot on Friday, but those bass weighed upwards of 15 pounds. Although he’s basically laid off his fish the first two days of competition, he was still able to finish on top, and said he’s super excited for Championship Sunday.

“I feel really good about what I’m doing and where I’m at,” Hatfield continued. “I know these smallmouth could leave and things could change on Sunday, but I’m just excited to be fishing on the final day and hopefully I can go out there and do what I did today or better.”

The top 10 pros from Qualifying Group B that now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round on the St. Lawrence River are:

1st:           Nick Hatfield, Greeneville, Tenn., 10 bass, 46-4 – ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
2nd:          Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 43-13
3rd:          Martin Villa, Charlottesville, Va., 10 bass, 41-5
4th:           John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., 10 bass, 40-10
5th:           Jon Canada, Helena, Ala., 10 bass, 40-4
6th:           Jared McMillan, Clewiston, Fla., 10 bass, 40-1
7th:           Bobby lane, Lakeland, Fla., 10 bass, 39-12
8th:           Casey Scanlon, Eldon, Mo., 10 bass, 39-9
9th:           Jacob Wall, New Hope, Ala., 10 bass, 38-14
10th:        Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 38-4

Finishing in 11th through 25th in the Group B Qualifying Round were:

11th:        Corey Neece, Bristol, Tenn., 10 bass, 37-10
12th:        Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 10 bass, 37-9
13th:        Lane Olson, Forest Grove, Ore., 10 bass, 37-7
14th:        Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 10 bass, 37-1
15th:        Grae Buck, Green Lane, Pa., 10 bass, 36-2
16th:        Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., 10 bass, 35-11
17th:        Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 10 bass, 35-6
18th:        Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 10 bass, 33-2
19th:        Jeff Reynolds, Calera, Okla., 10 bass, 32-8
20th:        Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 10 bass, 32-4
21st:        Josh Butler, Hayden, Ala., 10 bass, 31-10
22nd:       Andy Newcomb, Camdenton, Mo., 10 bass, 31-0
23rd:       Phillip Dutra, Guntersville, Ala., nine bass, 27-1
24th:        Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, nine bass, 25-8
25th:        Chad Warren, Sand Springs, Okla., nine bass, 25-5

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 124 bass weighing 466 pounds even caught by the 25 pros on Friday, with 24 five-bass limits.

Hatfield brought a smallmouth weighing 6-pounds, 3-ounces to the scale to win the Group B $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler in each group that weighs the biggest bass over their two-day Qualification Round.