VanDam Catches Five-Bass-Limit Weighing 21-8 to Lead Knockout Round, Final 10 Anglers Set for Championship Sunday in the Competition for $100,000
BAY CITY, Mich. (Aug. 5, 2023) – Kalamazoo, Michigan’s own Kevin VanDam – the all-time winningest angler in the history of professional bass fishing, announced his retirement earlier this year, but proved to the field today that he’s not interested in finishing the season as just a participant – he’s here to win. VanDam went on an early morning flurry, catching eight scorable bass Saturday – his best five weighing 21 pounds, 8 ounces – to lead the Knockout Round and advance with the final 10 anglers to the final day of competition at the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Minn Kota Stage Seven at Saginaw Bay Presented by Suzuki.
VanDam quickly rose to the top of the leaderboard early in Period 1 and never looked back. His limit gives him a 2-pound, 13-ounce cushion over pro Dakota Ebare of Brookeland, Texas, who ended the day with a five-bass-limit weighing 18-11, good for second place. Harrison, Tennessee’s Jacob Wheeler – the reigning Bally Bet Angler of the Year (AOY) – sits in third place with a limit weighing 17-15, while General Tire pro Ott DeFoe finished the day in fourth with 17-14. Favorite Fishing pro Matt Becker also weighed in five bass totaling 17-14 to round out the top five.
Link to Hi-Res Photo of Knockout Round Winner Kevin VanDam
Link to HD Video – Fish-Catch Highlights of Knockout Round on Saginaw Bay
Link to Photo Gallery of Knockout Round Afternoon Highlights on Saginaw Bay
The final 10 anglers are now set, and competition resumes Sunday morning with the Championship Round. In the Championship Round, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total will win the top prize of $100,000.
“Really solid day today, for sure,” said VanDam. “I couldn’t have scripted it any better. Being in this position is everything you could ask for. I gave it everything I had, trying to catch as much as I could today, and it’s still going to be a shootout again tomorrow. There’s just no guarantee that we’ll get the same type of bites tomorrow, but I went out and accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish today and have had a blast having fun this week.
“This is my last regular-season pro level tournament, so I really wanted to fish every single day and I’m going to get to do that,” VanDam continued. “I just can’t put into words how much that means.”
The Michigan pro spent the majority of his time Saturday in the mid-section of the main lake, throwing a Strike King Thunder Cricket and he also added a keeper on a drop-shot rig.
Although VanDam caught a combination of largemouth and smallmouth during the Qualifying Round, where he finished in second place, he targeted strictly smallmouth during the Knockout Round – a move that certainly paid off for the eight-time Angler of the Year (AOY) winner.
“I feel so blessed and have had so much support from my family,” said an emotional VanDam. “Both of my sons are here – one of them flew in from Nashville just to be here this week – and it means a lot that they are here and I’m going to have a lot of family and friends around tomorrow as well.”
The Michigan native has collected just over $7 million in tournament winnings and 26 tournament wins in his storied career, and it seems he’s got his sights set on another tour-level trophy.
“It’s just so special to be in this position going into the final day of this event,” said VanDam. “I know the other nine guys are going to give it everything they’ve got to try to take home that trophy, but I can promise you this – so am I.
“This has been such a special week, all in all, and I had no expectations it would turn out like this, and I’m so thankful for all the support I’ve had over the years. I’ve gotten to know so many friends, and the people in this industry is really what makes this sport so special. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and we’re going to be swinging for the fences tomorrow. “
The top 10 pros from Saturday’s Knockout Round that now advance to Sunday’s Championship Round on Saginaw Bay are:
2nd: Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 18-11
3rd: Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 17-15
4th: Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., five bass, 17-14
5th: Matt Becker, Ten Mile, Tenn., five bass, 17-14
6th: Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, five bass, 17-12
7th: Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 17-0
8th: Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 16-14
9th: Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., five bass, 16-11
10th: Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, five bass, 16-7
12th: Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., five bass, 16-6
13th: Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., five bass, 16-5
14th: Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 16-2
15th: Terry Scroggins, San Mateo, Fla., five bass, 16-1
16th: Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, five bass, 15-13
17th: Keith Poche, Pike Road, Ala., five bass, 15-12
18th: Russ Lane, Prattville, Ala., five bass, 15-2
19th: Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., five bass, 15-1
20th: Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 15-0
21st: Ryan Salzman, Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 14-11
22nd: David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., five bass, 14-11
23rd: Jeff Sprague, Point, Texas, five bass, 14-10
24th: Mitch Crane, Columbus, Miss., five bass, 14-8
25th: Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., five bass, 14-6
26th: Britt Myers, Lake Wylie, S.C., five bass, 14-4
27th: Cole Floyd, Leesburg, Ohio, five bass, 13-12
28th: Bradley Roy, Lancaster, Ky., five bass, 13-10
29th: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., five bass, 13-8
30th: Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 13-6
31st: Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 13-5
32nd: Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 13-1
33rd: Cliff Pace, Petal, Miss., five bass, 12-15
34th: Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 12-12
35th: Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 12-9
36th: Brent Chapman, Lake Quivira, Kan., five bass, 12-3
37th: Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., five bass, 12-1
38th: Roy Hawk, Lake Havasu City, Ariz., five bass, 11-13
39th: Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., four bass, 9-11
40th: Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., two bass, 7-5
VanDam tied with San Mateo, Florida’s Terry Scroggins for Saturday’s Berkley Big Bass Award, each weighing in a bass totaling 5 pounds, 2 ounces, to claim a share of the daily award. 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 bass-fishing event showcases 80 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of more than $805,000, 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 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship.
The 40 Anglers in Group A competed in their two-day qualifying round on Tuesday and Thursday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Wednesday and Friday. After the two-day qualifying round, the top 20 anglers from each group advanced to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights were zeroed, and the remaining 40 anglers competed to finish in the top 10 to advance to the Championship Round. In Sunday’s final day Championship Round, weight carries over from the Knockout Round and the angler with the heaviest two-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
The final 10 anglers will launch Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET from the Golson Boat Launch, located at 1598 N. Johnson St. in Bay City. The General Tire Takeout will be held at the launch location, 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 .
As part of the event, on Sun., Aug. 6, the MLF Fan Experience will be taking place at Wenonah Park in Bay City from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. MLF will welcome fans of all ages to celebrate fishing and the outdoors with free giveaways, local vendors, photo opportunities with pro anglers and PAW Patrol characters and the opportunity for fans to hang out and watch the pros live on the MLFNOW! ® big screen during the MLF Watch Party. The first 100 kids onsite will get a free rod and reel combo, and fans can also check out the latest gear and offerings from MLF and MLF sponsors including Toyota, Suzuki, the U.S. Air Force, Humminbird, Minn Kota and Kubota.
The final 10 Championship Round Bass Pro Tour anglers will also be on hand at the trophy celebration to meet and greet fans, sign autographs and take selfies on Sunday, including Knockout Round leader and Kalamazoo’s own Kevin VanDam, celebrating his final regular-season professional tournament with fans.
The Minn Kota Stage Seven at Saginaw Bay Presented by Suzuki features anglers competing using the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, with each angler’s five (5) heaviest bass per day tallied as their day’s weight. Anglers strive to catch their heaviest five fish each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the live scoring SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
The 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, fishing for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2024, the Bass Pro Tour championship, held March 13-17, 2024, on Lay Lake in Birmingham, Alabama.
The MLFNOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone 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.
Television coverage of the Minn Kota Stage Seven at Saginaw Bay Presented by Suzuki will air with a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, November 11, on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on the Outdoor Channel.
Proud sponsors of the 2023 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, Ark Fishing, ATG by Wrangler, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bally Bet, Bass Cat Boats, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Black Rifle Coffee, Daiwa, Epic Baits, Favorite Fishing, Ferguson, Fox Rent A Car, General Tire, Grundéns, Humminbird, Lowrance, Minn Kota, Mercury, Mossy Oak, Onyx, Power-Pole, Rapala, Star tron, T-H Marine, TORO, Toyota, U.S. Air Force, Yellowstone Bourbon, Yo-Zuri and Zoom Baits.
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, Twitter, 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, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the 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 13 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.