Lee Charges to Early Group B Lead at Major League Fishing’s Heavy Hitters
2020 Heavy Hitters Champion catches 18 bass weighing 63 pounds, 4 ounces to lead Day 1 of Qualifying  Round for Group B, 15 anglers in Group A to wrap their Qualifying Round Monday

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (May 19, 2023) – As he wrapped up practice for General Tire Heavy Hitters Presented by Bass Pro Shops, pro Jordan Lee of Guntersville, Alabama, felt confident. Believe it or not, despite his track record of success on national tours as a whole and on Florida’s Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in particular, Lee said that’s not common. The last time he remembers feeling that way entering an event was the last time Heavy Hitters took place on the Kissimmee Chain, an event he won in June of 2020.

But even Lee didn’t envision what unfolded Sunday.

On a Kissimmee Chain that has proven stingy for many of the 30 anglers in the field, Lee authored one of the most memorable days of his decorated career. He stacked 18 bass totaling 63 pounds, 4 ounces onto SCORETRACKER® during the opening day of qualifying for Group B, and he did it despite easing off the throttle for the third and final period. Lee, who had topped 50 pounds by the end of the second stanza, leads Kevin VanDam by 22-12.

As if that wasn’t enough, Lee also earned $10,000 in Berkley big bass cash for catching the biggest fish of the day, a 7-14 stud. Like most of his fish, the lunker ate a Berkley Swamp Lord frog in matted hydrilla in Lake Toho.

“What an awesome day on the water,” Lee said. “It really doesn’t get much better. I can’t remember the last time it was that much fun just as far as the strikes and getting bit.” 

Lee’s track record on the Kissimmee Chain made him one of the favorites before he ever made a cast this week. He won the first ever Bass Pro Tour event in 2019 on the fishery as well as the aforementioned Heavy Hitters event.

But instead of leaning on the same staples that have won him $319,000 across three prior BPT events on the chain, Lee turned Sunday to a technique he’s honed fishing matted grass during the fall on Lake Guntersville in his home state of Alabama.

“It really reminded me of Guntersville,” Lee said. “It’s fishing just like it, and with all the grass out there, I just feel real comfortable doing it. We don’t really fish a lot of lakes with this much grass, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot over the years just fishing at home a lot in the fall. It kind of translates into fishing down here.”

While Florida lakes are synonymous with vegetation, the Kissimmee Chain isn’t typically regarded as a frogging hot spot, particularly at this time of year. However, a boom in hydrilla growth in Toho combined with low water levels have produced a swath of grass that is topped out but not too thick — the perfect environment for throwing a frog, as illustrated by the fact that Group A leader Brandon Coulter employed the same approach as Lee.

Lee stumbled upon the pattern on the second day of what had been a challenging practice.

“I was flipping in practice, and I was just fishing around,” he said. “I was struggling; I wasn’t getting bit. And I thought I saw some blowholes in the mat — that's what we call them, where the fish blow through the mat and make holes out there. But I was like, eh, I really don’t know. And I fired a frog out there, and one came up on it, another one came up on it, and another one came up on it. Then I started doing it and started getting bit like crazy.”

Lee’s frog of choice, the Swamp Lord, has been the biggest star of the first two MLFNOW! broadcasts. Lee noted that the bait’s larger profile and weight make it ideal for fishing through mats. He threw it on a 7-foot-6, heavy Jordan Lee rod from Abu Garcia paired with an 8.1:1 gear ratio Abu Garcia Revo STX reel spooled with 50-pound Berkley X5 braid.

“It’s a heavy frog and weighs down in the mat,” Lee said of the Swamp Lord. “When you’re fishing that hydrilla, it’s thick, and it’s hard for the fish to bust through, so if you’re throwing a real lightweight frog, you’re not going to get as many bites.”

The biggest of Lee’s bites came in the first hour of competition. While he said he didn’t think it would retain Berkley Big Bass honors all day, Lee was never particularly close to losing his grip on the $10,000 prize being handed out each day during the Qualifying Round. In fact, underscoring the dominance of his performance, Lee also caught the second-biggest bass of the day, a 6-13.

“I would have took absolutely nothing for an almost 8-pounder on a frog,” he said. “But I got paid for it. I got $10,000 for the biggest fish of the day, which, man, that’s awesome.

Given that no other anglers in Group B ventured into the grass mats, Lee remains confident that he can ride his frog bite all the way through Thursday’s Championship Round. He has a feeling he’ll have some more company as the tournament progresses, but his comfortable cushion over the cut line gives him an entire day to explore the mats in search of fresh groups of fish during Group B’s second day of qualifying on Tuesday.

“I’m pretty confident,” he said. “Normally, I wouldn’t be, but it just depends on the number of guys that kind of catch on. There wasn’t anybody today, but I know how it goes, it's pretty obvious. But, I feel confident it can win the tournament if I play my cards right and find the right schools of them.”

The standings for the 15 pros from Group B after Day 1 of the Qualifying Round on the Kissimmee Chain are:

1st:        Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 18 bass, 63-4
2nd:       Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 13 bass, 40-8
3rd:       Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, 13 bass, 40-6
4th:        Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 11 bass, 32-13
5th:        Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 10 bass, 26-13
6th:        Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, eight bass, 24-9
7th:        Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., six bass, 18-9
8th:        Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 15-6
9th:        Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., four bass, 14-3
10th:     Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., five bass, 13-9
11th:     Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., three bass, 13-4
12th:     Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., four bass, 13-0
13th:     Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., three bass, 7-6
14th:     Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., two bass, 4-10
15th:     Randall Tharp, Port St. Joe, Fla., one bass, 2-10

Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 106 bass weighing 330 pounds, 14 ounces caught by the 15 pros on Sunday, which included one 7-pounder, one 6-pounder and six 5-pounders caught from the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

The General Tire Heavy Hitters at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Bass Pro Shops 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. A bass must meet the 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable in the Qualifying and Knockout Rounds, but for the final day Championship Round a bass must weigh at least 3 pounds to be deemed scorable.

The 15 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 15 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. After each two-day qualifying round is complete, the top eight anglers from both groups advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round weights are zeroed, and the remaining 16 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Thursday’s final-day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

In addition to the tournament, Big Bass Bonuses are awarded in each day of competition with payouts of $10,000, $30,000 and $100,000 awarded to the single biggest fish in the Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.

Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. ET from Big Toho Marina located at 69 Lakeview Drive in Kissimmee. 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.

To qualify for General Tire Heavy Hitters, the weight of an angler’s single-largest bass from each event of the seven 2023 Bass Pro Tour events was recorded. The 30 anglers with the heaviest total from those seven bass qualified to compete in this event.

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

Television coverage of the General Tire Heavy Hitters 2024 Presented by Bass Pro Shops will be showcased across six two-hour episodes, premiering at 7 a.m. ET, Aug. 10 and running each Saturday through Sept. 14 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.

Featured products

Strike King Bladed jigs 1/2 oz / Blue Glimmer Thunder CricketStrike King Bladed jigs 3/4 oz / Olive Shad Thunder Cricket
Sale price$11.99 Regular price$13.99
Thunder CricketStrike King
58 reviews

Featured collection

View all
Save $0.50
Z-Man Fishing Products Craws & Creatures Black Blue Z-Man Hella CrawZZ-Man Fishing Products Craws & Creatures Green Pumpkin Z-Man Hella CrawZ
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.00
Z-Man Hella CrawZZ-Man Fishing Products
2 reviews
Save $1.29
Strike King Worms Moon Juice Ned OchoStrike King Worms Black Blue Swirl Ned Ocho
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.79
Ned OchoStrike King
8 reviews
Save $0.50
Z-Man Fishing Products Finesse baits Black Z-Man Trick ShotZZ-Man Fishing Products Finesse baits Green Pumpkin Goby Z-Man Trick ShotZ
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.00
Z-Man Trick ShotZZ-Man Fishing Products
2 reviews
Save $1.45
Strike King Craws & Creatures Candy Craw KVD Rodent 3"Strike King Craws & Creatures Crawdaddy KVD Rodent 3"
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.95
Rodent 3"Strike King
4 reviews
Save $1.45
Strike King Craws & Creatures Bama Bug Rodent 4"Strike King Craws & Creatures Roadkill Rodent 4"
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.95
Rodent 4"Strike King
9 reviews
Save $1.00
Strike King Worms Blue Craw Red Flake Rage Cut-R-WormStrike King Worms Black Blue Swirl Rage Cut-R-Worm
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.50
Rage Cut-R-WormStrike King
3 reviews
Save $0.50
Euro Tackle Minnows & swimbaits Black B-VibeEuro Tackle Minnows & swimbaits Purple Shad B-Vibe
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.00
B-VibeEuro Tackle
1 review
Save $0.99
Big Bite Baits Minnows & swimbaits 3.4" / Gill Finesse SwimmerBig Bite Baits Minnows & swimbaits 3.4" / Pro Blue Red Finesse Swimmer
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.49
Finesse SwimmerBig Bite Baits
3 reviews
Save $0.50
Z-Man Fishing Products Finesse baits Green Pumpkin Micro TRDZ-Man Fishing Products Finesse baits Electric Chicken Micro TRD
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.00
Micro TRDZ-Man Fishing Products
1 review
Save $1.00
Z-Man Fishing Products Craws & Creatures Black/Blue Billy GoatZ-Man Fishing Products Craws & Creatures Green Pumpkin Billy Goat
Sale price$4.50 Regular price$5.50
GoatZ-Man Fishing Products
No reviews

Recently viewed