The highly anticipated Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour is finally here and ANGLR’s very own Dave Lefebre weighs in on what he thought of the inaugural event on Lake Toho and the Kissimmee Chain. The first stop of the Bass Pro Tour Stage 1 was an incredible event, full of highs and lows for anglers as they set the stage for this new professional bass fishing format!
Bass Pro Tour Stage 1: A Tough Practice was a Good Thing
“I felt really bad going into that tournament because my practice was terrible. It rained really hard during practice and made it difficult to move around and fish. And I didn’t have many bites in practice but that turned out to be a good thing because it made me hunker down in one area and just fish and pray the weights weren’t too high.”
“We’re not allowed to talk to anybody, not even guys in our own group, so there were a million things going through my mind that first morning. So, to see very little movement on the Scoretracker early I kind of realized, I just gotta put my head down and grind it out.”
Dave cashed a check in the inaugural Bass Pro Tour event by covering water with a Terminator Shuddering Bait and a swim jig when the conditions allowed and when the wind would die down he slowed his approach by switching to a Senko. His area consisted of a good mix of lily pads and hydrilla with holes between the vegetation where he would catch most of his fish.
“It was kind of neat to hunker down in one area for all 3 days I was on the water because I don’t do that very often. I’m a runner. But that’s kind of the way I do decent in tournaments in Florida. Just put the trolling motor in the water and spend the whole day standing up.”
Bass Pro Tour Stage 1: A Unique New Format
The new format of the MLF Bass Pro Tour is unique. The 80 anglers are broken into two groups of 40 and those groups alternate fishing every other day for the first days for each group are “Shotgun Rounds”. Then the second days for each group are considered the “Elimination Rounds”. Each angler’s weight is cumulative across their first two days of fishing. The top 20 from each group moves on to the “Knockout Round” where weights are zeroed out. The remaining 40 anglers then compete for one day to determine the top 10. The top 10 fish in the “Championship Round” on what equates to be the 6th day of competition, though each angler only fished 4 days total.
One question we posed for Dave, how do you manage fish now?
His response, “I have no idea.”
In a traditional multi-day tournament format, an angler tries to get 5 solid bass in the boat and then has to decide if they want to try to cull up in that area or leave it for the remaining days of competition. Several new factors come into play with the Bass Pro Tour (BPT).
First of all, every bass over 1-pound is scorable, so why not just catch every fish you can on day-1? Well that makes sense at first glance, but when you think about the fact that weights are zeroed for the Knockout Round, burning through every fish in an area right out of the gate isn’t necessarily a good idea. However to counter that, in the BPT, you have to take a day off between your first two days of competition and run the risk of another angler in the other group pounding on the same area. It’s definitely been a curveball the anglers are trying to figure out.
How Does the Off-Day Effect A Pattern?
That day off also throws another 24-hours of random variables like changes in the weather, current, and water level into the mix that could make an area that produced on your first day obsolete on your second day of competition.
So, is it best to catch everything you can right away?
Maybe. But remember, first place after two days gets the exact same reward as 20th place by advancing to the Knockout Round where weights are zeroed. Dave’s best guess is to try to ride that sweet spot in the standings around 10th and hope you’re saving some fish and have done enough to advance.
“You’ve got to play it safe when you’re trying to make that 20-cut and it’s pretty obvious about what you’ll need with the Scoretracker. So I think once you’re in, you just kind of have to lay back. This format is just totally different. There’s so much more strategy involved. So using the tools available to me, like the ANGLR web application paired with the mobile app and Bullseye is a great way to give me that competitive advantage!”
“In the past, your success in tournaments depended on being 90% good fisherman and 10% smart fisherman. And now it’s like 50/50 good fisherman to smart fisherman.”
“The good thing about these first tournaments of the year when fish are moving up to spawn is that I think you can really beat up on your fish because you know there are more coming. So, I think the only time you can really save fish right now is if you’re in a good position on the second day when you have to make the top 20 cut. Other than that I think you’re always having to catch everything you can right now.”
As Dave heads out on Lake Conroe for the second event of the Bass Pro Tour, you can retrace his steps from Stage #1 on the Kissimmee Chain by viewing the trip data he logged with the ANGLR app!
This article was contributed by an ANGLR Expert
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