Dustin Connell takes victory in Group A qualifying round at Chowan River – The Clanton Advertiser

Dustin Connell takes victory in the Group A qualifying round at Chowan River

Published 2:44 PM Friday, June 7, 2024

From Major League Fishing

EDENTON, NC (June 6, 2024) – Windy conditions on the Chowan River made the trailer policy possible Thursday during the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour US Air Force Stage Five on the Chowan River Presented by WIX Filters, but the stormy weather could doesn’t stop fishermen from catching piles of bass. It certainly didn’t slow down Mercury pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama (who intended to spend his second day on the water “practicing”), as he bagged another 14 bass for 26 pounds, 13 ounces on that day. . His two-day total was 74-5, more than 20 pounds ahead of General Tire pro Alton Jones Jr. from Waco, Texas, 53-06 for the qualifying round.

As on all elimination days on the Bass Pro Tour, there was plenty of drama on SCORETRACKER® as anglers made their clutch catches while jockeying for position. The improved fishing also helped, as many anglers posted big numbers and raced to the top. Two anglers over 30 pounds, Justin Lucas of Guntersville, Alabama, and Gary Klein of Mingus, Texas, jumped into the Top 10 and will advance to Saturday’s knockout round.
It appears that fishing on the Chowan River and associated waters is improving, or that fishermen are simply putting the pieces of the puzzle together better. Either way, it’s looking good for a great ending to this event.

The top 10 anglers advancing from Group A will now have a day off during the competition on Friday, while the 39 anglers from Group B will complete their two-day qualifying round. The top 10 anglers from each group will advance to Saturday’s knockout round. In the knockout round, the weights are zeroed and the remaining 20 anglers compete to finish in the top 10 to advance to the championship round. In Sunday’s final championship round, the weights will be reset and the highest daily total will win the $100,000 grand prize.

Dustin Connell’s total on Day 3 was the fifth best of the day, which was made even more impressive by the fact that he was actively exploring new areas. Nothing he had fished before was part of his plan Thursday.

“I really like this place,” he said. “I’ve been practicing all day and didn’t plan on bringing them in like that. The Chowan River is home to a lot of fish, and I feel like I’m checking this place out. I spent the day running new things and adding maybe 25 percent more to what I had already found.

Even when he gets a heavy weight, Connell has no regrets about leaning on it so much.

“I didn’t catch many big ones – a few 2s and only one over 3 pounds,” he said.

Connell surmised that this fishery is about happening in the right areas and having large numbers of fish in small areas, mixed in between the voids of whatever activity is happening.

“You can fish for a mile and not catch a single fish, and then you get into a little spot and you’re like, ‘Oh, here they are,’” he said. “This spot is area-based and finding the most important small areas with the groups of fish is important. I feel really good about what I found and how it will hold up for the rest of the tournament.”

Both Klein and Lucas were safely within the bounds of getting paid, but they both wanted more. They both pulled it off and advance to the knockout round, with Klein jumping from 16th to eighth and Lucas jumping from 13th to fourth to end the day.

They were the only two anglers to exceed the 30-pound limit. Lucas did it with a strong final frame and Klein did most of the damage during Period 2.

“The day started well and then I went through a long dead period where I actually learned a lot of bad parts,” Lucas said. “This afternoon the bite was on fire and I hope to build on that. The whole key here is to get the rotation right because so many of us fish the same stretches. Not every area has fish, but if you come across a good one, you can get there quickly.”

Klein’s total of 30 pounds exceeded his expectations, and although he felt safe at the end of period 2, the cut line was a little too close for comfort.

“I thought based on my training and the first day that 18 pounds would be a really good day for me,” he said. “I was surprised that I caught 30 today, but I was also encouraged. I was 10 pounds ahead of the cut at the end of the second period and thought there was no way I wasn’t going to make it, and I was lollygagging a bit. Then it came within 4 pounds of me and I lost two nice ones before finally gaining another one. That’s the intensity of this format; you have to have clean fishing and impeccable execution to compete against these guys.

The top 10 professionals from Group A who will now advance to Saturday’s knockout round at Chowan River are:
1st: Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., 33 bass, 74-5
2nd: Alton Jones Jr., Waco, Texas, 22 bass, 53-6
3rd: Mark Daniels Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., 18 bass, 51-7
4th: Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., 19 bass, 47-14
5th: Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., 21 bass, 47-2
6th: Fred Roumbanis, Russellville, Ark., 20 bass, 44-15
7th: Martin Villa, Charlottesville, Va., 20 bass, 44-14
8th: Gary Klein, Mingus, Texas, 17 bass, 44-1
9th: Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 18 bass, 43-12
10th: John Hunter, Shelbyville, Ky., 19 bass, 42-3

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