Hays Paces Final 10 Anglers at MLF Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Six at James River
Hot Springs, Arkansas pro catches 22 bass weighing 53-13 to lead Saturday’s Knockout Round, field of 20 set for Sunday’s Final Day Championship Round

RICHMOND, Va. (June 29, 2024) – The James River has produced bass in bunches during General Tire Stage Six Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts, with anglers routinely catching 20-plus fish in a day. While the rate at which bass hit the scales flagged a bit during Saturday’s Knockout Round, pro Dylan Hays of Hot Springs, Arkansas, made up for it with some serious quality on his way to topping SCORETRACKER.

Hays totaled 53-13 on 22 scorable bass, which put him 3-6 ahead of Andy Montgomery. Four of the Arkansas pro’s fish weighed at least 4 pounds, including the Berkley Big Bass — a 5-12 that earned him an extra $1,000. His five biggest catches combined to weigh nearly 22 pounds.

Hays’ total marked the third-best day for any angler during Stage Six, and he said it could have been even better, noting that he lost another big one that likely would have topped 5 pounds at the boat. Still, after weights zero overnight, he predicted the Championship Round will be “anyone’s game.”

The tidal nature of the James has made for some pronounced bite windows this week. While that remained the case for Hays Saturday, with most of his weight coming during three distinct flurries, he didn’t only capitalize on low tide, when the bite has been best.

Even though high tide had just passed, Hays started the morning strong, boating five scorable bass in the first hour. He wound up totaling 13-1 during the first period. That marked a welcome change after he struggled during each of his first two mornings on the water. Hays knows finding a way to add to his total outside of the low-tide bite will be pivotal to his chances of earning his first Bass Pro Tour win.

“The biggest factor for me is trying to not have big slow periods on high tide,” he said. “That’s been so hard all week long, in practice and everything. I feel like I could have had a lot more weight today if I wanted to, but a big key to that was I caught like 13 pounds in the first couple hours.”

While his pair of 50-pound days might not suggest it, Hays said the James has tested his patience. Forcing himself not to run back to his low-tide juice when the tide is high and the bite is tough has been important. He’ll need to maintain that discipline Sunday, with low tide not forecast to arrive at the mouth of the Chickahominy River until around 3 p.m.

“One big key is not getting in a hurry and fishing the tide when it’s wrong, not fishing a good spot when the tide’s not right,” he said. “Because I haven’t caught a big one on a high-tide situation yet. Zero all week.”

Once low tide arrived, Hays took advantage. In a span of a little more than 30 minutes during the second period, he caught six fish for 15-12. That included a pair of 4-pounders one minute apart.

Running a pattern on a roughly 10-mile stretch of the Chickahominy Rover, Hays would continue to pick up a scorable bass here and there throughout the afternoon. With about 1 hour, 20 minutes left in the competition day, he knew his spot in the Championship Round field had been secured, so he decided to check on a spot he hadn’t visited since practice. There, he surprised himself by catching the aforementioned 5-12. He then ran to a brand new spot and promptly caught a 4-14. He's hopeful those spots can produce for him again during the Championship Round.

“I was like, you know what, I need to go just check some stuff, and I pulled up there and I caught the 5-12 like third cast,” Hays said. “I’m like, dang, I need to get off this. So, I was like, how about those over there? So, went over there, and something just looked good. Just trying to fish free — that’s something I’ve done a lot this week. And like third cast, catch another almost-5-pounder.”

Of the 14 bass of 4-plus pounds caught by the 20-angler Knockout Round field, Hays accounted for four of them. He admitted he’s not sure what, exactly, was the key to generating such big bites, but he attributed some credit to his bait choice. All of Hays’ fish ate a white 1/2-ounce bladed jig from Brazalo Custom Lures with a Zoom Z-Craw as the trailer. He tossed it on a 7-foot-3 Kistler Helium rod with a 7.3:1 Kistler Chromium reel spooled with 15-pound TUF-LINE fluorocarbon.

Between the fluctuating tide and fishing pressure, the bite has been different each day on the James. Add in the fact that just about every angler in the Top 10 has already experienced at least one day in which he’s topped 45 pounds, and Hays knows the competition will be wide open. Predicting it will take upwards of 60 pounds to win, he’s optimistic about his chances of lifting his first trophy on a national tour.

“Man, it’s anybody’s game,” he said. “There's a lot of guys that have caught a lot of weight this week. We’ll see what’s going on tomorrow, but I’m pumped to be able to go back.”

The top 10 pros from Saturday’s Knockout Round that now advance to the final day of competition on the James River are:

1st:        Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 22 bass, 53-13
2nd:       Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 23 bass, 50-7
3rd:       Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 23 bass, 48-13
4th:        Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 18 bass, 44-12
5th:        Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 19 bass, 44-8
6th:        Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 18 bass, 39-14
7th:        Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 13 bass, 34-12
8th:        Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, 16 bass, 34-8
9th:        Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 16 bass, 34-1
10th:     Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 14 bass, 32-15

Eliminated from competition are:

11th:     Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 13 bass, 28-0, $10,000
12th:     Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 11 bass, 23-14, $10,000
13th:     Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., 11 bass, 23-14, $10,000
14th:     Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., 12 bass, 23-0, $10,000
15th:     Bobby Lane, Lakeland, Fla., eight bass, 21-6, $10,000
16th:     Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, 10 bass, 20-2, $10,000
17th:     Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., seven bass, 19-7, $10,000
18th:     Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., eight bass, 18-5, $10,000
19th:     Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., six bass, 17-11, $10,000
20th:     Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., three bass, 5-14, $10,000

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

Overall, there were 271 bass weighing 620 pounds even caught by the 20 pros Saturday. The catch included five 5-pounders, nine 4-pounders and 25 3-pounders.

Pro Dylan Hays earned Saturday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award with a largemouth weighing 5 pounds, 12 ounces. 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 Richmond Region Tourism, 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. After the two-day Qualifying Round was complete, the anglers that finished first through 10th from both groups advanced to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights were zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers competed to finish in the top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round. Sunday, in the final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

The final 10 anglers will launch at 7:30 a.m. ET each day from Osborne Landing, located at 9530 Osborne Turnpike in Richmond. MLF has enacted the Trailering Policy for the entirety of the event, meaning pros can trailer their boats and drive them to any ramp on the fishery closer to where they plan to start fishing. Pros taking advantage of the trailering policy will leave Osborne Landing at 6:45 a.m. ET daily and will begin fishing at 8 a.m. ET (Lines In) with the full field.

Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the landing, 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 Championship Sunday 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 Sunday, June 30, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF welcomes fans of all ages to visit Osborne Landing 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. 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 General Tire Stage Six at James River Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts 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 78 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 General Tire Stage Six at James River Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Championship Round will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Nov. 9 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, BUBBA, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, Garmin, General Tire, Humminbird, Lowrance, Mercury, MillerTech, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak Fishing, NITRO, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, PowerStop Brakes, Rapala, REDCON1, Star brite, Suzuki, Toyota, U.S. Air Force and WIX Filters.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook, X,  Instagram and  YouTube.

About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 17 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.
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