MASSENA, N.Y. (WWTI) – A pro angler from Tennessee broke nearly every record and took home the winning prize at the Bass Pro Tour in Massena on Wednesday night.
Academy Sports + Outdoor Pro Jacob Wheeler won the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley after the Championship Round of the competition on June 30.
During the final day of competition, Wheeler caught 35 scorable bass weighing 129 pounds, which earned him his fourth career Bass Pro Tour victory, the most ever awarded.
Throughout the five-day competition, Wheeler broke nearly ever weight record, bringing in the single-day heaviest weight of 165 pounds, one ounce; heaviest two-day qualifying round weight at 222 pounds, one ounce; and most weight ever weighed in a Championship Round of 129 pounds even.
With this new victory, the 30-year-old angler took home the top prize of $100,000, which pushed his career earnings to over $2.6 million.
“I was fortunate to have a solid practice for this event. I didn’t know what I could catch, and I didn’t know what it would take to win, because it was so crazy out here on the St. Lawrence River,” reflected Wheeler. “To officially be the champion… I don’t think I’ve ever won on smallmouth on a natural river system, so this feels unbelievable.”
The Championship Round includes 10 anglers, two as the winners from the tour’s qualifying rounds on June 27 and June 28, and eight from the tour’s “Knockout Round” on June 29. The final round challenged all anglers to catch the highest weight during an allotted time frame.
Additionally during the Championship Round of the tour on Wednesday, Toro Pro Jeff Sprague of Texas matched his personal career-best finish and took home the second-place title.
In his post-game interview, Sprague said: “One of these days we’re going to figure out how to win one of these events. But I’m still super excited about my finish this week. We fished extremely hard today, I even ran around this morning and fished new water and tried to make something happen. It was a crazy, amazing week here in New York and I’m thrilled to bank another top-10 finish.”
The top 10 pros at the Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River and their earnings were:
- Jacob Wheeler, 35 bass, 129-0, $100,000
- Jeff Sprague, 26 bass, 100-6, $45,000
- Skeet Reese, 31 bass, 91-1, $38,000
- Adrian Avena, 28 bass, 86-15, $32,000
- Brent Ehrler, 27 bass, 86-15, $30,000
- Justin Lucas, 25 bass, 84-1, $26,000
- Alton Jones Jr., 24 bass, 83-2, $23,000
- Gerald Spohrer, 17 bass, 73-14, $21,000
- Bradley Roy, 13 bass, 46-2, $19,000
- John Cox, DeBary, Fla., 12 bass, 38-3, $16,000
Wheeler also won Wednesday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award, weighing a 6-pound, 6-ounce smallmouth. Lucas earned the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the largest bass of the event with his 6-pound, 13-ounce smallmouth that he weighed on Day 1 of competition.
The MLF Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Five at the St. Lawrence River Presented by Berkley was hosted by the Town of Massena and Fish Massena. The six-day tournament featured 80 of the top professional anglers from around the world competing for a purse of $805,000, including a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner.