Dustin Connell Leads Day 1 of Major League Fishing’s REDCREST

Published 11:50 am Thursday, March 9, 2023

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From Major League Fishing

CHARLOTTE, N.C.  – The top 40 professional anglers from the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour launched Wednesday morning on Lake Norman in Charlotte, North Carolina, for Day 1 of MLF’s REDCREST 2023 presented by Shore Lunch , the Bass Pro Tour championship. The five-day event, hosted by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, Visit Lake Norman and the Mecklenburg County Park & Recreation Department, features 40 anglers competing to become pro bass fishing’s newest world champion, and a top cash prize of $300,000.

Favorite Fishing pro Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, the REDCREST 2021 Champion, caught a five-bass weight of 16 pounds, 7 ounces, to grab the early lead after Day 1 of competition. Right behind Connell in second place is California pro Brent Ehrler, who caught five bass weighing 15-11. Fellow REDCREST Champion, REDCREST 2019 winner Edwin Evers of Talala, Oklahoma , sits in third place with five bass weighing 15-6. The full field of 40 anglers will compete again tomorrow for Day 2 of competition. Only the top 20 anglers after Thursday will advance into the Championship Round of competition.

“Today I had a great day, but the plan is just to take this one day at a time,” Connell said. “This is a long week. I knew coming in that if you could figure out the prespawners, it would last. And today I had a really good start. But all that matters is this weekend. That’s the goal, and we’ve got a long way to go. But I feel good about this start.”

Connell caught 15 scorable keeper bass – 14 spotted bass and one largemouth – Wednesday, mainly on a shaky-head rig, a jerkbait and a weightless Googan Baits Lunker Log.

“I left my best area after I caught 15 pounds and just went practicing,” Connell said. “I was catching fish pretty much the entire time. I was just kind of feeling out new areas, trying to see if the fish were doing this, or doing that.

“I’m running a pattern, and this time of the year it works really great around my house,” the Alabama pro continued. “It’s not a certain spot, it’s not a certain three spots. I’m just running and if it looks good, I’m rolling up and fishing it and I think I can catch them. I just feel like I know where they’re coming to and what they’re doing.”

The standings after Day 1 on Lake Norman are:

1st:          Dustin Connell, Clanton, Ala., five bass, 16-7
2nd:         Brent Ehrler, Redlands, Calif., five bass, 15-11
3rd:         Edwin Evers, Talala, Okla., five bass, 15-6
4th:         Jacob Wheeler, Harrison, Tenn., five bass, 15-3
5th:         Cody Meyer, Star, Idaho, five bass, 14-15
6th:         Matt Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 14-4
7th:         Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 13-12
8th:         Casey Ashley, Donalds, S.C., five bass, 13-11
9th:         Fletcher Shryock, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 13-10
10th:       Zack Birge, Blanchard, Okla., five bass, 12-15
11th:       Alton Jones, Jr., Waco, Texas, five bass, 12-11
12th:       Mark Daniels, Jr., Tuskegee, Ala., five bass, 12-7
13th:       Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., five bass, 12-6
14th:       Randall Tharp, Port Saint Joe, Fla., five bass, 12-3
15th:       Mark Rose, Wynne, Ark., five bass, 12-3
16th:       Josh Bertrand, Queen Creek, Ariz., five bass, 12-2
17th:       Anthony Gagliardi, Prosperity, S.C., five bass, 12-2
18th:       Jordan Lee, Cullman, Ala., five bass, 12-0
19th:       Greg Vinson, Wetumpka, Ala., five bass, 11-15
20th:       Stephen Browning, Hot Springs, Ark., five bass, 11-12
21st:       Shinichi Fukae, Osaka, Japan, five bass, 11-11
22nd:      Adrian Avena, Vineland, N.J., five bass, 11-11
23rd:      Jared Lintner, Covington, Ga., five bass, 11-10
24th:       Justin Lucas, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 11-10
25th:       Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 11-7
26th:       Randy Howell, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 11-7
27th:       Ott DeFoe, Blaine, Tenn., five bass, 11-1
28th:       Jesse Wiggins, Addison, Ala., five bass, 11-0
29th:       James Elam, Tulsa, Okla., five bass, 10-15
30th:       Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 10-15
31st:       Kevin VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., five bass, 10-13
32nd:      Mark Davis, Mount Ida, Ark., four bass, 10-8
33rd:      Chris Lane, Guntersville, Ala., five bass, 10-1
34th:       Dakota Ebare, Brookeland, Texas, five bass, 10-0
35th:       Jeremy Lawyer, Sarcoxie, Mo., five bass, 9-12
36th:       Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 8-12
37th:       Todd Faircloth, Jasper, Texas, four bass, 8-0
38th:       Wesley Strader, Spring City, Tenn., five bass, 7-12
39th:       Alton Jones, Lorena, Texas, one bass, 3-15
40th:       David Walker, Sevierville, Tenn., two bass, 3-11

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