Neal Wins Knockout Round at Bass Pro Tour at Mille Lacs Lake

September 14, 2022
Major League Fishing (MLF)

ONAMIA, Minn. (Sept. 14, 2022) – Pro Michael Neal of Dayton, Tennessee, caught 20 scorable smallmouth bass weighing 77 pounds, 2 ounces to win the Knockout Round and advance to the final day of competition at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Stage Seven tournament on Mille Lacs Lake in Onamia, Minnesota. The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition will resume Thursday morning with the Championship Round. Weights are zeroed, and the angler that catches the most weight will win the top prize of $100,000.

The top eight pros from Wednesday’s Knockout Round that will compete in Thursday’s Championship Round on Mille Lacs Lake are:

1st:          Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 20 bass, 77-2
2nd:         Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 19 bass, 71-3
3rd:         Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 14 bass, 57-4
4th:         James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., 14 bass, 54-1
5th:         Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., 14 bass, 51-12
6th:         David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., 14 bass, 51-6
7th:         Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 14 bass, 49-5
8th:         Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J, 13 bass, 46-13

They’ll be joined by Qualifying Round Winners:

Group A: Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala.
Group B: Alton Jones, Sr., Lorena, Texas

Full results for the entire field can be found at

“I don’t know that I’ve ever won a Knockout Round before,” Neal said in his post-game interview. “It’s not necessarily the round that you want to win, but I can’t complain either way. I laid off my fish pretty quick into the second period and there is a lot more there, but who knows what the weather is going to do tomorrow.

“I’ve got one main area up on the north end of the lake that I’m catching all my fish,” Neal continued. “It’s really been anywhere from 10 to 16 feet, pretty much where you can find a mixture of some grass and one or two rocks mixed in. It’s a very specific cast and you’ve got to hit it. And with the wind, that was kind of a challenge today.”

Neal battled through the winds, throwing a couple of different baits. He mentioned his key bait this week has been a Big Bite Baits SoMolly finesse worm, fished on a drop-shot rig with       10-pound test Sunline SX1 braided line and  8-pound test Sunline Shooter fluorocarbon line and a 1/0 Gamakatsu hook.

“Tomorrow, it looks like we’re going to have the same kind weather, as far as the wind goes, and maybe even some rain,” Neal said. “I don’t know if that will push more fish to me or if it will scatter them out.

“Everybody is back to zero, all back to square one again, and it’s going to be a shootout,” Neal went on to say. “There are some great fishermen in this top 10, no doubt. I’m looking for somewhere around that 80-to-90-pound range probably to try to win tomorrow. Maybe even 100. I feel like I could have gotten to that mark today if I needed to, but tomorrow is going to be different. I’m just ready to come back out here. It’s been a lot of fun this week. We’ve caught a lot of fish, some big fish, and we’ve just got to do it one more day.”

Rounding out the top 40 finishers on Mille Lacs Lake were:

11th:       Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 12 bass, 46-11, $10,000
12th:       Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., 12 bass, 39-0, $10,000
13th:       Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., 12 bass, 38-8, $10,000
14th:       Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 12 bass, 38-7, $10,000
15th:       Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 11 bass, 37-15, $10,000
16th:       Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., nine bass, 32-2, $10,000
17th:       Jeff Kriet, Ardmore, Okla., nine bass, 32-0, $10,000
18th:       Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., nine bass, 31-6, $10,000
19th:       Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., nine bass, 30-2, $10,000
20th:       Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, eight bass, 29-5, $10,000
21st:       Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., eight bass, 29-5, $10,000
22nd:      Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 29-4, $10,000
23rd:      Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., eight bass, 29-0, $10,000
24th:       Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., seven bass, 25-14, $10,000
25th:       Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., nine bass, 25-4, $10,000
26th:       Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., six bass, 24-11, $10,000
27th:       Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., seven bass, 24-2, $10,000
28th:       Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., six bass, 21-1, $10,000
29th:       Jason Lambert, Michie, Tenn., six bass, 20-9, $10,000
30th:       Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., six bass, 20-8, $10,000
31st:       Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 19-6, $10,000
32nd:      Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., four bass, 17-15, $10,000
33rd:      Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., five bass, 16-13, $10,000
34th:       Boyd Duckett, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 16-9, $10,000
35th:       Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., six bass, 16-2, $10,000
36th:       Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., three bass, 12-11, $10,000
37th:       Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., four bass, 12-9, $10,000
38th:       Shinichi Fukae, Osaka, Japan, four bass, 12-8, $10,000
39th:       Ish Monroe, Oakdale, Calif., zero bass, 0-0, $10,000
40th:       Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., zero bass, 0-0, $10,000

Overall, there were 331 scorable bass weighing 1,188 pounds, 9 ounces caught by 36 pros Wednesday.

Texas pro Dakota Ebare earned the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award Wednesday, catching a 6-pound, 1-ounce smallmouth on a drop-shot rig in Period 1. 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.