Becker Wins Group B Qualifying Round Stage Five at Chowan River

Tennessee pro catches two-day total of 62-6 to win Group B Qualifying Round, field of 20 set for Saturday’s Knockout Round

EDENTON, N.C. (June 7, 2024) – The Knockout Round field is set at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour U.S. Air Force Stage Five at the Chowan River Presented by WIX Filters, and it's a clash of old-school and new-school fishing styles in eastern North Carolina.



It's still too early to tell which approach will produce victory, but reigning Fishing Clash Angler of the Year Matt Becker of Ten Mile, Tennessee, who entered Friday in second place, used the latter to top Group B with a two-day total of 62 pounds, 6 ounces. Alongside Group A winner Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama , Becker will lead the 20-angler field out of Pembroke Creek Park to start tomorrow's Knockout Round.

Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, the Day 1 leader for Group B, admitted that he planned to use the second day of qualifying to search for more water. He tallied four bass for 7-15, falling to fourth place. But where it counts will be the last two days of this event, and Wheeler is still one of the heavy favorites to win for a third time this season. Drew Gill of Mount Carmel, Illinois , (59-3) and Zack Birge of Blanchard, Oklahoma, (55-14) finished between Becker and Wheeler in second and third, respectively.

The fishing continues to be solid, and big bass are still being caught, including a tournament-best 8-3 Berkley Big Bass caught by Alton Jones, Sr., of Lorena, Texas, Friday. That lunker helped push him into Saturday’s Knockout Round, showing how crucial those big bites could be in determining a winner this week.


While there’s been some variance day to day, 30 pounds looks like it could be the key mark to qualify for Sunday’s Championship Round, with a handful of anglers putting that on SCORETRACKER® every day. Becker has now done it two days in a row, adding a day's best 31-8 to 30-14 from his group's opening day of fishing.

"Today went well and better than expected because I fished almost all new water," he said. "I only fished one spot today that I did the first day. I spent most of the day expanding and looking for new water."

Becker experienced a slow start to the event, boating just one scorable bass during his first morning of competition.

"I only had one fish at 12:30 p.m. the first day, and then I started putting the clues together," he said. "I had all the puzzle pieces from practice but only started figuring out where they go that afternoon. I got a bite doing it and then ran that the rest of the day and then all day today. It was like a light bulb went off in my head."

While not willing to disclose the details of his pattern, Becker did share that he was able to duplicate his success in several areas Friday, many of which are holding groups of fish.

"Every spot I caught fish on had multiples there," he said. "I feel good about that, because I now have a lot of those little spots to hit. It's hard to tell how many of those will bite, because I would catch one and then leave to look for new areas today."

After catching 30 pounds or more both days, Becker feels that will be the mark needed to advance after weights zero overnight but cautions that it could be much higher.

"I feel like 30 pounds will be good enough to advance, but they are starting to catch them pretty well," he said. "The thing is, though, many of these guys haven't put their foot on the gas yet. I could have pressed a little harder today and caught a few more, but there was no sense in doing that today."

A Bass Pro Tour rookie, Gill continued his stellar run to begin his career at the top level, showing he can catch them on a variety of fisheries. He opened the week on the Chowan with 28-7 and added 30-12 Friday, which surprised him after his practice.

"I did not expect to catch that because practice was mediocre at best," he said. "I knew a deal that was working but didn't know what made it different. The tournament is where I started to refine it. Now, I've refined it so much that I don't know if I have enough water left to fish."

Gill isn't looking too far ahead but knows he will need more areas to have a shot to win.

"I'm feeling upbeat — that would be a good word for it," he said. "I wasn't expecting even to make it, so I'm ecstatic to get to the Knockout Round."

Still, while Gill is grateful, he knows he has work to do if he hopes to advance one more time and contend for the win on Sunday.

"I feel like I can catch 25 pounds again; if I do that, I'll let the chips fall where they may," he said. "In the best-case scenario, I can do that and then look for more areas if I can advance. It will take at least 45 or 55 to win that last day, and I know I'm not on the fish to do that right now."

The top 10 pros from Group B that now advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round on Chowan River are:

1st:          Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., 23 bass, 62-6
2nd:        Drew Gill, Mount Carmel, Ill., 28 bass, 59-3
3rd:         Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., 23 bass, 55-14
4th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 22 bass, 55-4
5th:         Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 19 bass, 53-11
6th:         Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., 22 bass, 52-15
7th:         Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 16 bass, 51-0
8th:         Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., 23 bass, 50-12
9th:         Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 21 bass, 45-2
10th:       Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 18 bass, 39-2

Eliminated from competition are:

11th:      Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 18 bass, 38-3
12th:      Ron Nelson, Berrien Springs, Mich., 16 bass, 37-3
13th:      Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S. C., 16 bass, 35-13
14th:      Cliff Crochet, Pierre Part, La., 12 bass, 34-3
15th:      Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 14 bass, 30-4
16th:      Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., 16 bass, 29-14
17th:      Brandon Coulter, Knoxville, Tenn., 11 bass, 29-9
18th:      Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, 14 bass, 29-7
19th:      Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 12 bass, 28-6
20th:      Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 26-7
21st:      Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., eight bass, 26-1
22nd:     Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., 10 bass, 26-1
23rd:      Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 14 bass, 25-7
24th:      Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, 11 bass, 25-0
25th:      David Walker, Huntingdon, Tenn., nine bass, 24-12
26th:      Justin Cooper, Zwolle, La., 12 bass, 24-10
27th:      Grae Buck, Green Lane, Penn., 10 bass, 23-11
28th:      Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 11 bass, 22-11
29th:      Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., eight bass, 20-15
30th:      Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, nine bass, 20-5
31st:      Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, eight bass, 18-4
32nd:     Jacopo Gallelli, Florence, Italy, seven bass, 15-15
33rd:      Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., eight bass, 14-15
34th:      Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., six bass, 11-7
35th:      Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., five bass, 11-5
36th:      Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., five bass, 9-15
37th:      Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., four bass, 8-0
38th:      Joshua Weaver, Macon, Ga., three bass, 7-7
39th:      Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., one bass, 2-6

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

Overall, there were 235 scorable bass weighing 565 pounds, 5 ounces, caught by 37 pros Friday, which included one 8-pounder, one 6-pounder, seven 5-pounders, 13 4-pounders and 20 3-pounders.

Wheeler is still the man to beat for yet another Fishing Clash Angler of the Year title, but he can't afford to slip at all. Eight of the Top 10 anglers in the points standings coming into this event are fishing in tomorrow's Knockout Round. And with just two events remaining after this one, every day on the water matters. The action the rest of the week will help shape the race as it rounds into the stretch run.

Alton Jones, Sr., of Lorena, Texas, earned Friday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award with an 8-pound, 3-ounce largemouth bass that he caught on a drop-shot rig during Period 3. 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.

The six-day tournament, hosted by the Town of Edenton, the Chowan County Tourism Development Authority and Harbor Towns Cruises, showcases 78 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of $659,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Fishing Clash Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2025, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

The 39 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day Qualifying Round on Tuesday and Thursday – the 39 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. Now that each two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers that finished first through 10th from both groups advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. In the final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers will launch at 7:30 a.m. ET each day from Pembroke Creek Park, located at 716 W. Queen Street in Edenton. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the park, beginning at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLFNOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com .

The MLFNOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on the final four days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET. MLFNOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

On Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF welcomes fans of all ages to visit Colonial Waterfront Park, located at 510 S. Broad St. in Edenton, for the MLF Watch Party and Kids Fishing Derby. Fans can watch the pros live on the MLFNOW! big screen, enjoy free food, enter to win hourly giveaways and cheer on their favorite pros. The first 50 kids 14 and under will receive a free rod and reel from Pure Fishing each day. Additional fishing gear will be provided onsite for the fishing derby or kids can bring their own. The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will be on hand at the trophy celebration on Championship Sunday to meet and greet fans, sign autographs and take selfies.


The U.S. Air Force Stage Five at Chowan River Presented by WIX Filters features the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers catch as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. The tournament features anglers competing with a 1-pound, 8-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. The MLF Fisheries Management Division determines minimum weights for each body of water that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 79 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2025 championship.

Fishing Clash, an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide, is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. You can download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.

Television coverage of the U.S. Air Force Stage Five at Chowan River Presented by WIX Filters Knockout Round will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 26 on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering on Nov. 2. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

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