LeBrun Grabs Early Group B Lead at MLF Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Six Presented at James River

Louisiana pro leads Group B by 20 pounds, 8 ounces after Day 1, Group A to wrap up two-day Qualifying Round Thursday

RICHMOND, Va. (June 26, 2024) – The last time Nick LeBrun of Bossier City, Louisiana , visited the James River prior to Major League Fishing (MLF) General Tire Stage Six Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts, he left with a trophy, winning a Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit event on the Virginia fishery in 2022, en route to qualifying for the Bass Pro Tour.

While that win remains a highlight of LeBrun’s fishing career, to say he picked up where he left off doesn’t do justice to how he started Wednesday.

LeBrun wasted no time claiming the top spot on SCORETRACKER® and racing away from the rest of the field during Group B’s first day of the Qualifying Round. In the first hour and 45 minutes after Lines In, the Louisiana native boated 22 scorable bass totaling 51 pounds, 4 ounces. From there, he cruised to a 73-10 total, which has him more than 20 pounds clear of Terry Scroggins of San Mateo, Florida, at the top of the leaderboard.

“I don’t know what else to say besides just praise the Lord,” LeBrun said. “It was just an incredible day. I’ll never forget it the rest of my life.”

While LeBrun’s first period alone (54-2) would have eclipsed everyone else’s total for the day, he was far from the only angler to find the bite just as hot as the weather during another blazing day on the James. For the second day in a row, it took more than 40 pounds to claim a spot in the Top 10, and 29 of the 39 anglers on the water topped 20 pounds on the day.

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 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 Louisiana pro knew he’d found some areas on the tidal river system during practice that would produce on a falling tide, which was the case for the entire first period Wednesday. However, he had no idea just how good they would be.

In fact, at one point he joked with his boat official that the two of them should jump into the water to cool off if he amassed 70 pounds on the day, not thinking he’d actually hit that mark. Once he got there early in the third period, though, he made good on his word.

“When the tide is right, I had a few places in practice where I just got a few bites and went on, and I didn’t really know what was there,” LeBrun said. “I knew that there were some fish there, but today, I got to see what was really there, and man, it was incredible.”

LeBrun didn’t want to share too many details about his approach but said he caught almost all his weight power fishing — chunking and winding with his Temple Fork Outfitters baitcasting rods. Once low tide passed and the tide changed, that pattern waned, and LeBrun used the rest of the day to explore new water.

“When the tide gets low and it starts coming back in, my spots aren’t as productive,” he said. “So, I really used the last period to try to just go and figure out something new and caught a few fish here and there.”

The good news for LeBrun is that the field will fish an outgoing tide longer and longer as the event progresses. The concern, though, is that as low tide gets later each day, the heat might make the bass less active. After temperatures reached triple digits Wednesday, the weather is forecast to cool off a bit in the days to come, but not much, with highs in the upper 80s and low 90s.

“I think I could ride it a little bit longer,” LeBrun said of his starting pattern. “It’s definitely an outgoing tide type of a thing, and so with these tidal days, the tide shifts about 30 minutes to an hour every day, and so if I whacked them in the first period, my bite might shift more toward the second period on Day 2. So, we’ll see.

“The heat is definitely not helping. In practice, when we had outgoing tide closer to daylight, it was really easy to get bites. But now that it’s so hot and the outgoing is getting pushed further in the morning and kind of midday, it’s making it more challenging.”

With a cushion of nearly 35 pounds over 11th place, LeBrun’s spot in the Knockout Round should be nearly secure. As a result, he plans to use the second day of qualifying as “a day of learning,” focusing especially on identifying a productive pattern around high tide.

While he knows he’ll need to make the right adjustments to have a shot at going back-to-back on the James, he made sure to soak in his special start. LeBrun called the day his most fun on the water in nearly two years on the Bass Pro Tour.

“This is a fun place,” LeBrun said. “I feel at home fishing here. It's a special place to me and my wife. And it would be real special to do well here again. I’m just really humbled, because the guys in my group and the guys on the Bass Pro Tour in general are such top-notch competitors, and man, to be leading the round is just really special to me, especially against this group of names. It’s really special to be competing against these guys and to be doing well, because they’re the best out there.”

The 39 anglers in Group B will now have an off day from competition Thursday, while the 39 anglers competing in Group A will wrap up their two-day Qualifying Round. Group B will finish their Qualifying Round on Friday.

The top 20 pros in Group B after Day 1 on the James River are:

1st:         Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 32 bass, 73-10
2nd:       Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., 26 bass, 53-2
3rd:        Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 22 bass, 52-12
4th:        Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 26 bass, 50-15
5th:        Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 19 bass, 50-8
6th:        Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 23 bass, 44-4
7th:        Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., 19 bass, 43-1
8th:        Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 20 bass, 42-13
9th:        Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 19 bass, 41-0
10th:      Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 17 bass, 40-15
11th:      Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 17 bass, 39-0
12th:      Scott Suggs, Alexander, Ark., 17 bass, 37-6
13th:      Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., 14 bass, 34-4
14th:      David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., 16 bass, 34-0
15th:      Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 16 bass, 33-3
16th:      Marty Robinson, Lyman, S.C., 17 bass, 32-12
17th:      Jacob Wall, New Hope, Ala., 14 bass, 29-5
18th:      Nick Hatfield, Greeneville, Tenn., 12 bass, 28-13
19th:      Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 14 bass, 28-9
20th:      John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., 12 bass, 27-15

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

Overall, there were 543 scorable bass weighing 1,191 pounds, 3 ounces caught by 39 pros Wednesday, which included one 7-pounder, one 6-pounders, four 5-pounders and 11 4-pounders.

Luke Clausen of Spokane, Washington, earned the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award after a 7-pound, 6-ounce largemouth bit his creature bait in Period 3. Berkley awards $1,000 to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass each day, and another $3,000 bonus to the angler who weighs the heaviest bass of the tournament.

Fishing Clash Angler of the Year leader Jacob Wheeler threw down the gauntlet on Day 1, jumping out to a big lead in Group A with 78-8 and all but assuring himself a spot in the Knockout Round. Wednesday, his two closest pursuers showed they’re not going to let Wheeler run away with his third AOY award.

Alton Jones, Jr., who entered Stage Six 14 points back of Wheeler in the season-long competition, currently sits eighth in Group B with 42-13, while Dustin Connell is fourth with 50-15. Connell arrived at the James in third place, 24.5 points off Wheeler’s total. As of now, all three anglers are positioned to meet in the Knockout Round, although Connell and Jones still have some work to do to assure their spots in Saturday’s field.

The 39 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day Qualifying Round on Tuesday and Thursday – the 39 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. After each two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers that finish 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 Osborne Landing, located at 9530 Osborne Turnpike in Richmond. Due to long boat runs, tides and high temperatures, 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 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 29-30, 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 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 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.

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