Lee Coasts to Qualifying Round Win, Rose Wins $10K Big Bass Award at MLF Heavy Hitters

Wednesday’s Knockout Round field set as eight anglers advancing from Group B

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (May 21, 2023) – Despite locking up a spot in the Knockout Round of General Tire Heavy Hitters 2024 at the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes Presented by Bass Pro Shops during his first day on the water, pro Jordan Lee of Guntersville, Alabama, used every minute of the second qualifying day for Group B to his advantage.

Lee hauled his biggest bass of Tuesday, a 6-pound, 7-ounce specimen, over the gunwale just seconds before the end of competition. The buzzer-beater anchored his tally of 19-6 on six scorable bass, which was more than enough to maintain his spot atop the standings. His two-day total of 82-10 topped legendary pro Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan – competing in his final event – by 21-11.

While Lee and the other anglers who started the day near the top of SCORETRACKER® spent much of the day in what he called “search mode,” pro Mark Rose of Wynne, Arkansas, provided the most entertaining action. Rose, who started the day in 14th place, blasted 37-13 on seven bass, including a 7-9, which earned him $10,000 as the day’s biggest catch.

Like Brandon Coulter a day prior, Lee’s objective Tuesday wasn’t to catch as much weight as he could. Instead, he used the day to prepare for Wednesday’s Knockout Round with a little bit of offense and a little bit of defense.

Lee spent much of the day exploring new water, looking for more schools of bass living in the matted hydrilla on Lake Toho. He’s optimistic he found a few spots that could produce if the bite falters in his Day 1 area, including the one that produced his 6-pounder just before lines out.

“I had three bites here in about five minutes,” Lee said of the spot. “So, maybe I’ll have a little something up here to myself. I don’t really know. It looks good, but we’ll see tomorrow.”

Lee will hope he never has to turn to the backup plan. He did his best to make sure the zone that produced the bulk of his 63-4 on Sunday — a mark no other angler eclipsed across two days of qualifying combined — can carry him through the rest of the tournament, chasing off at least one other angler who stumbled upon the spot.

While Lee almost certainly will have company there tomorrow, he’s all-in on his frog bite, throwing a Berkley Swamp Lord on his signature 7-6, heavy Jordan Lee casting rod from Abu Garcia. The 2020 Heavy Hitters champion told MLFNOW! viewers that he’s been waiting for a tournament that could be won frogging mats like he does during the fall on Lake Guntersville in his home state of Alabama. Given that he and Coulter both used the technique to lead their respective groups through qualifying, this looks like his chance.

“I feel like tomorrow is going to be fun,” he said. “I’ve got some areas I feel like I can put the trolling motor down and (Power-Pole) down and frog, and that’s what we’re going to do. I feel like you can get right in a hurry, for sure.”

The top eight pros from Qualifying Group B that now advance to Wednesday’s Knockout Round on the Kissimmee Chain are:

1st:        Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., 24 bass, 82-10
2nd:       Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., 20 bass, 60-15
3rd:       Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, 20 bass, 56-2
4th:        Takahiro Omori, Tokyo, Japan, 17 bass, 55-15
5th:        Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., 15 bass, 45-15
6th:        Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., nine bass, 42-7
7th:        Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., 13 bass, 36-1
8th:        Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, 11 bass, 33-9

Group B anglers finishing the event in 9th through 15th place are:

9th:        Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., nine bass, 31-15
10th:     Randall Tharp, Port St. Joe, Fla., 10 bass, 28-8
11th:     Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., eight bass, 26-2
12th:     Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., seven bass, 22-10
13th:     Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., eight bass, 21-9
14th:     Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., seven bass, 21-3
15th:     Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., six bass, 17-7

Full results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 78 bass weighing 252 pounds, 2 ounces caught by the 15 pros on Tuesday, which included one 7-pounder, three 6-pounders and four 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 competed in their two-day qualifying round on Saturday and Monday – the 15 anglers in Group B on Sunday and Tuesday. Now that 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 round of competition with payouts of $10,000, $30,000 and $100,000 awarded to the single biggest fish in the Group A and B Qualifying, Knockout and Championship rounds.

Anglers will launch each day of competition 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.

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