STURGEON BAY, Wis. – As regular-season competitions go, the Covercraft Stage Five Presented by Abu Garcia had an unmistakable championship attitude about it.
Maybe it was the “Whoever gets the last punch in wins” competition between Jordan Lee and Jacob Wheeler for the Points Champion trophy. Maybe it was the “You can’t stop me” vibe that Justin Lucas projected all week.
Or maybe it was just the Green Bay smallmouth fishery, which ushered in a new definition of what an excellent day of tournament fishing can be.
Lee Outlasts Wheeler
In March of 1979, Michigan State and Indiana State battled it out for the NCAA men’s basketball National Championship. That was the first head-to-head matchup between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, a rivalry that eventually stretched over 12 seasons in the NBA.
You get a definite feeling that Lee vs. Wheeler will outlast Magic vs. Bird.
Lee and Wheeler were separated by 5 ½ points coming into Stage Five, and both were carrying momentum: Lee had banked $200,000 three weeks prior at Heavy Hitters in Kissimmee, Florida; Wheeler had won the FLW Pro Circuit Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga two weeks prior. Both had fished three of the four Championship Rounds in 2020 Bass Pro Tour events on Lake Eufaula, Lake Okeechobee, Lake Fork and Kissimmee.
Lee eventually threw the final punch of the season, finishing fourth to Wheeler’s 15th to secure the points title by 18 points.
“Get used to seeing that,” MLF NOW! analyst Marty Stone said of the Lee versus Wheeler matchup. “You could already start whispering ‘Hall of Fame’ for both of these guys, and they’re going to do nothing but get better. Think about that for a minute: they’re going to get better. I’m not saying that there aren’t other incredibly talented young anglers out there – Michael Neal, MDJ, Dustin Connell, there are several – but Wheeler versus Lee is something I’m looking forward to watching for years to come.”
“To win (Points Champion) means you have to be a consistent angler and win or place regularly,” said Lee. “And to win against this group of guys, the best in the world, is really an awesome thing and it really means a lot.”
About the Bass Pro Tour
The Bass Pro Tour began in 2019 and features 80 of the best professional anglers in the world, including Kevin VanDam, Edwin Evers, Aaron Martens, Mike Iaconelli, Jordan Lee, and Skeet Reese. Each stage includes six days of competition using the Major League Fishing, catch-weigh-and-immediately-release format, where every bass over a variable minimum weight, which is two pounds on Lake Fork for Stage Three, toward a cumulative weight total for the day. Variable minimum weights are determined by fishery, akin to a golf course handicap. The field of 80 anglers is divided into two groups of 40 (Groups A and B) to compete on days one through four for the Qualifying Round. The winners of each Group earn an automatic berth the Championship Round. The anglers finishing in places 2-20 from each group in the Qualifying Round (40 total) advance to the Knockout Round on day five (Tuesday), which determines who will compete on that final day, the Championship Round (Wednesday), for the Stage title and $100,000.
Each Stage of the Bass Pro Tour has the following payout schedule: 1st $100,000; 2nd $42,000; 3rd $30,000; 4th $24,000; 5th $18,000; 6th $16,800; 7th $15,600; 8th $14,400; 9th $13,200; 10th $12,000; 11th – 40th $6,000; Big Bass Daily $1,000; Big Bass Overall $1,000.
In addition to the economic impact for the host community, Destination Sturgeon Bay / Door County, Major League Fishing showcases the region through their award-winning, live and linear programming. Each Stage of the Bass Pro Tour is broadcast live on the Major League Fishing app, MyOutdoorTV (MOTV), and majorleaguefishing.com, totaling more than 325 hours of original programming. Fans can follow the fast-paced nature of the MLF format as it unfolds on the live leaderboard through “SCORETRACKER® updates.”
Highlights from each Stage of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour air on Discovery Network beginning in July 2020 and Sportsman Channel in early 2021. Covercraft Stage Five presented by Abu Garcia will premiere as two, two-hour episodes on Discovery Channel October 3 and 4, 7 – 9 a.m. ET/PT.
“MLF offers the strongest broadcast presence in the industry to fans and sponsors,” said Jim Wilburn, President and CEO of Major League Fishing. “And with these lakes planned for this coming Bass Pro Tour, we know 2020 will be our best year yet as we continue to capture a broad audience of both longtime fishing fans and those new to the sport, thanks to our fast-paced, fan-friendly format,”
About Major League Fishing
Founded in 2011, Major League Fishing (MLF) brings the high-intensity sport of competitive bass fishing into America’s living rooms on Outdoor Channel, Discovery, CBS, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network, Sportsman Channel, and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). The Bass Pro Tour consists of eight events and a championship streamed live on www.MajorLeagueFishing.com and MOTV.
In late 2019 MLF acquired FLW, which expands their portfolio to include the world’s largest grassroots fishing organization, including the strongest five-fish format professional bass fishing tour, the Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit, as well as the Toyota Series, Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine, and Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI, and High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing.
For more information on the league and anglers, visit www.MajorLeagueFishing.com and follow MLF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.