Robinson Cruises to Group B Lead Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake

South Carolina pro leads Group B by 4 pounds, 1 ounce after Day 1, Group A to wrap up two-day Qualifying Round Thursday

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. (April 10, 2024) – Talk of a youth revolution has become a hot topic in the tournament bass-fishing world, as a cadre of teenaged and 20-something anglers seems to be qualifying for top tours and winning trophies with increased frequency.



Through two days of competition on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee, the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour PowerStop Brakes Stage Three Presented by Mercury has followed the same script. Twenty-year-old Marshall Robinson of Landrum, South Carolina, the youngest angler on the Bass Pro Tour , boated 29 scorable bass for a massive total of 92 pounds, 8 ounces on Wednesday, the first day of qualifying for Group B. Robinson battled with Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, for the top spot on SCORETRACKER® throughout the day, ultimately finishing 4-1 clear of the reigning REDCREST champion.
 
Link to Hi-Res Photo of Qualifying Group B Leader Marshall Robinson
Link to Photo Gallery of Group B’s Day 1 Qualifying Round Highlights

The six-day tournament, hosted by the Byrdstown-Pickett County Chamber of Commerce & Bill Dance Signature Lakes, showcases 79 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.

Robinson’s impressive showing comes a day after 21-year-old Drew Gill of Mount Carmel, Illinois, claimed the top spot during Group A’s first day on the water. Robinson headlines a loaded Group B leaderboard, with Connell, Alton Jones Jr.Jacob Wheeler and Justin Lucas — all past BPT winners — lurking right behind him.

Inextricably linked with the discussion about the recent success of young anglers has been the polarizing debate about forward-facing sonar and finesse fishing, most notably the jighead minnow. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that’s how Robinson amassed his weight Wednesday.

“I’m throwing a minnow a lot,” he said. “And then I also have a few key bottom baits. I’m throwing a Ned rig some and a drop-shot, just picking off some of those fish that might be spawning, locked on and don’t want to come off their bed. But I kept it pretty simple. I don’t think I threw more than four rods today.”

Robinson identified the pattern that keyed his hot start on the first day of practice. The fish had moved a bit by Wednesday, but once he figured out how they were setting up, the action was fast and furious. He replicated his success on multiple spots across the lake, which should bode well for the coming days.

“I don’t think I caught more than four or five fish (apiece) off of one area,” Robinson said. “I would just jump from area to area running my pattern and pick up three, four, five fish over and over again.”

During practice, Robinson caught mostly largemouth. On Wednesday, however, he did the majority of his damage with smallmouth, catching 20 scorable brown fish compared to nine green ones.

It wasn’t just Robinson but Group B as a whole that caught more smallmouth than the anglers in Group A did during their first day on the water. The brown fish Dale Hollow is best known for comprised nearly 37% of the 448 scorable bass weighed on the day, although a 5-11 largemouth caught by Andy Morgan won Berkley Big Bass honors.

More important for Robinson was the fact that, regardless of species, he not only found fish in bulk quantities but impressive quality. Of the 23 total bass that tipped the scales at 4 pounds or more Wednesday, Robinson caught five of them. Connell boated two more scorable bass than Robinson, but Robinson’s average size (3.19 pounds) earned him the top spot.

“You’re going to have a bunch of guys who catch the same amount of fish, so the only thing that’s going to set you apart is figuring out what those bigger fish are doing, ... because you can catch one fish that weighs what two of theirs does,” Robinson said.

Almost certainly assured a spot in the Knockout Round even if he fails to catch a keeper on the second day of qualifying, Robinson said he plans to use Friday to explore new water and hopefully find more places that fit his pattern. He’s optimistic that targeting offshore schools with forward-facing sonar, which dominated Wednesday, will be the way to win, but he’s not totally counting out the shallow bite.

“I really think there’s a chance that shallow fish could play, but it’s all dependent on if they make a push (to spawn) or not,” he said. “I don’t see the tournament being won on the bank unless a big wave moves up (to spawn). I definitely think the deeper ‘Scope bite is dominant right now.”

The son of Bass Pro Tour veteran Marty Robinson of Lyman, South Carolina , and Polaris Rookie of the Year winner on the Tackle Warehouse Invitationals last year, the younger Robinson isn’t nervous about holding an early lead. While he’s still looking for his first professional win, he’s fished – and held his own – against big-name competition before.

However, he acknowledged that seeing his name atop SCORETRACKER® in just his third BPT event feels a bit surreal.

"It feels almost too good to be true,” he said. “I might puke, but it is a really good feeling. It makes you feel accomplished.”

The 39 anglers in Group B will now have an off day from competition Thursday, while the 40 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 Dale Hollow Lake are:

1st:          Marshall Robinson, Landrum, S.C., 29 bass, 92-8
2nd:        Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 31 bass, 88-7
3rd:        Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 22 bass, 66-12
4th:         Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 20 bass, 60-4
5th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., 21 bass, 59-3
6th:         Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, 19 bass, 54-5
7th:         Shin Fukae, Osaka, Japan, 16 bass, 52-8
8th:         Luke Clausen, Spokane, Wash., 18 bass, 47-10
9th:         Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., 17 bass, 44-10
10th:      Keith Carson, DeBary, Fla., 16 bass, 42-2
11th:      Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., 15 bass, 41-7
12th:      Dave Lefebre, Erie, Penn., 15 bass, 37-8
13th:      Dean Rojas, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., 13 bass, 36-15
14th:      Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., 13 bass, 35-8
15th:      Kelly Jordon, Flint, Texas, 12 bass, 34-10
16th:      Grae Buck, Green Lane, Penn., 12 bass, 34-0
17th:      Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., 11 bass, 30-2
18th:      Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., 10 bass, 27-14
19th:      Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., 11 bass, 27-11
20th:      Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., 11 bass, 27-4

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

Pro Andy Morgan of Dayton, Tennessee, earned the $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award after a 5-pound,11-ounce largemouth bit his jerkbait 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.

The 40 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. CT each day from Sunset Marina and Resort, located at 2040 Sunset Dock Road in Monroe. 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 SCORETRACKER® leaderboard and event 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. CT. MLFNOW!®  will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com  and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 13-14, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF welcomes fans of all ages to visit Sunset Marina and Resort 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 PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury 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 2-pound 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.

The 79 anglers taking on Dale Hollow this week aren’t just battling for a first-place trophy and $100,000 payday. Valuable points in the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year race are also up for grabs. The winner of the season-long competition will take home an additional $100,000 check.

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 PowerStop Brakes Stage Three at Dale Hollow Lake Presented by Mercury Knockout Round will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Oct. 5 on Discovery, with the Championship Round premiering on Oct. 6. 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, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Rapala, StarBrite, Suzuki, Toyota and U.S. Air Force.


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 FacebookX,  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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