Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit Angler Takes Charge of Group A Qualifying Round with Nine Bass Weighing 29 Pounds, 12 Ounces – Group B to Compete Monday
JASPER, Texas (March 21, 2021) – Fishing in his first career Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour event, Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit angler Spencer Shuffield of Hot Springs, Arkansas, wasted no time in making an immediate impact. Shuffield boated nine scorable bass Sunday totaling 29 pounds, 12 ounces to jump out to the early lead in the Group A Qualifying Round at the Toro Stage 1 at Sam Rayburn Reservoir presented by Power-Pole . The six-day competition, which awards a top cash prize of $100,000 to the winner, is being live-streamed online and filmed for television broadcast on the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Channel later this year.
Just 1-ounce behind Shuffield in second place on the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard is a red-hot Dustin Connell, of Clanton, Alabama, the reigning REDCREST champion who caught 10 bass totaling 29-11. Bass fishing superstar Kevin VanDam of Kalamazoo, Michigan, sits in third place, just 2 pounds back of Shuffield with 10 bass weighing 27-12.
The 40 anglers in Group A will now enjoy a day off Monday, while the 40 anglers in Group B will begin their first day of competition. Group A resumes competition on Tuesday.
“I’m really excited about it,” Shuffield said when asked about leading after day one in his first Bass Pro Tour event. “I got on a little something today that I didn’t know was happening, but it’s a way that I really like to catch them. Everything that I’m catching is postspawn, and the way things are looking I think they’re just going to continue coming to me, more and more.”
Shuffield said that he caught all of his fish on two different baits Sunday – a Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep and a drop-shot rig.
“In practice I was catching 50 to 70 fish a day, but today I probably caught around 30,” Shuffield said. “I caught a lot of 1-12 to 1-15 (pound) fish, today. But, all in all, I’m satisfied. Of course, I’d like to have a 5-, 6- or 7-pound cushion over second – one ounce isn’t even really leading – but I’ll take it for my first day.”
Like Shuffield, most of the anglers near the top of the leaderboard were also throwing a jerkbait at certain points of the day, including Connell and VanDam.
“I caught a lot of fish on a jerkbait, today,” Connell said. “These fish are kind of staging up right now. It got pretty slow for me later in the day, so I was kind of bouncing around and practicing in the third period. I found a little zone that I like, so I’ve just been trying to expand on that a little bit.”
VanDam spent a lot of the day looking for schools of bass that were grouped up but didn’t have any luck, and spent the day picking off stragglers.
“I wasn’t really sure how it was going to happen, today, but it ended up being a solid day,” VanDam said. “I caught some good fish in practice, but I couldn’t find the big concentrations of them, and that’s the way it was today. One here, one there. I caught a few good ones and just mixed it up to keep myself in the hunt all day long.”
VanDam credited a Pro Blue-colored Strike King KVD jerkbait as being his key bait for most of the day, but he did also boat a few scorable bass with a gold-colored jerkbait as well.
“I’m just going to grind it out and fish the migration routes where these fish are coming into these big spawning basins – fishing points and ditches.”