Hughes Leads Invitational Tournament at Sam Rayburn

February 10, 2024
Major League Fishing (MLF)

BROOKELAND, Texas (Feb. 10, 2024) – Day 2 of the Major League Fishing (MLF) Invitational Stop 1 tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir was an absolute fireworks show. New York pro Alec Morrison and Tennessee’s Cole Breeden both caught 11-pounders, and nine pros topped 20 pounds. Headlining it all, local rookie Marshall Hughes of Hemphill, Texas, blitzed 38 pounds, 7 ounces to tally up 50-14 and rocket into the lead. Of course, Hughes had an 11-pounder as well (the third of the day) and staked himself a little more than a 6-pound cushion after only scratching up 12-7 on Day 1.

Hughes has a sterling record on Sam Rayburn and should certainly be riding high, but he’s not safe yet. Behind him are some of the best in the game with forward-facing sonar. Hughes might have the edge on local knowledge, but Day 3 of the event could be a shootout for the ages.

The three-day tournament featured a roster of 150 anglers competing for a top prize of up to $115,000 and an invitation to compete at REDCREST 2025. The field is now trimmed to 30, and the winner will be determined tomorrow by heaviest three-day cumulative weight.

Midway through the day, it looked like one of the storylines would be a lack of big bags. Usually, by noon of any Rayburn event, somebody has cracked a bag in the upper 20s or 30s, and they might be headed back to the dock to wait for the scales to open. Then, things started clicking for Hughes.

“I had like 14 pounds at like 11 or something; I was kind of down in the dumps with 14 pounds that late in the day,” said Hughes. “I started running around, running some new stuff. I was trying what I did yesterday, and it wasn’t working. I ran up to a hard spot, a shallower hard spot, and got bit and caught one — it was a 5-pounder, my small one.”

That was the only clue he needed. 

“So, I started running that stuff, and I pulled up on one, and they had just moved up and started feeding,” he said. “It was just balls to the walls. I’ve never seen what I saw today, ever.”

Fishing in 12 to 15 feet with a Bill Lewis Scope-Stik and a 5/8-ounce Buckeye Mop Jig with a Yamamoto Flappin’ Hog, Hughes watched most of the fish bite on forward-facing sonar.

“I rolled in, and they were there feeding,” he said. “It wasn’t like they were schooled up together. It was one there, one here. The ones that were higher up came on the jerkbait. The water is dingy right now; it’s hard for them to see it.”

Fishing 60 or 70 tournaments a year, Hughes is a full-time fisherman who hasn’t gone national – yet. Now, he’s looking to start his rookie year with a win. All he needs to do is have another good day on a lake he calls home.

“This afternoon, I just went out and started plucking around,” he said. “I love to catch ‘em on a ‘trap’ — I feel like that’s my forte — but they ain’t eatin’ a ‘trap’ now, so they’re putting me elsewhere. I need to just go fishing like I did today.”

The top 30 pros advancing to the final day of competition on Sam Rayburn Reservoir are:

1st:        Marshall Hughes, Hemphill, Texas, 10 bass, 50-14
2nd:       Alec Morrison, Peru, N.Y., 10 bass, 44-3
3rd:       Jake Lawrence, Buchanan, Tenn., 10 bass, 43-9
4th:        Cal Lane, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 43-9
5th:        Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 10 bass, 43-3
6th:        Keith Poche, Cecil, Ala., 10 bass, 41-14
7th:        Brody Campbell, Oxford, Ohio, 10 bass, 41-5
8th:        Nick Hatfield, Greeneville, Tenn., 10 bass, 41-1
9th:        Brock Reinkemeyer, Warsaw, Mo., 10 bass, 38-8
10th:     Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 10 bass, 38-6
11th:     Dillon Harrell, New Caney, Texas, 10 bass, 38-6
12th:     Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 10 bass, 37-11
13th:     Jaden Parrish, Liberty, Texas, 10 bass, 37-3
14th:     Cole Breeden, Lebanon, Tenn., 10 bass, 36-12
15th:     Britt Myers, Jr., Lake Wylie, S.C., 10 bass, 36-4
16th:     Lane Olson, Forest Grove, Ore., 10 bass, 35-12
17th:     Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, 10 bass, 35-8
18th:     Clayton Batts, Butler, Ga., 10 bass, 35-5
19th:     Andrew Nordbye, Guntersville, Ala., 10 bass, 35-1
20th:     Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, 10 bass, 34-8
21st:      Ramie Colson, Jr., Cadiz, Ky., 10 bass, 34-2
22nd:    Jordan Wiggins, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 34-1
23rd:     Michael Harlin, Sunrise Beach, Mo., 10 bass, 33-15
24th:     Mitchell Robinson, Landrum, S.C., 10 bass, 33-11
25th:     Ty Faber, Pagosa Springs, Colo., 10 bass, 33-10
26th:     Jacob Walker, Springville, Ala., 10 bass, 33-7
27th:     Terry Fisher, Decatur, Ala., 10 bass, 32-13
28th:     Kyle Hall, Granbury, Texas, 10 bass, 32-8
29th:     Mark Condron, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 10 bass, 32-6
30th:     Rick Harris, Kingsland, Texas, 10 bass, 31-10

Pro Cole Breeden of Lebanon, Tennessee, earned the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award Saturday with a largemouth bass that weighed in at 11 pounds, 12 ounces.

Overall, there were 693 bass weighing 1,914 pounds, 7 ounces caught by 146 pros Saturday. The catch included 131 five-bass limits.