By MLF Communications Staff

A field of the top 40 pros from the Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour converged on Lake Eufaula in Alabama on Mndayfor the start of REDCREST 2021, the Bass Pro Tour championship. The five-day competition, which awards a top cash prize of $300,000 to the winner, is being live-streamed online and filmed for television broadcast on CBS, the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Channel.

Bryan Thrift of Shelby, N.C. weighed in 13 bass totaling 45 pounds even to take the early lead after Day 1 of the Qualifying Round. Thrift holds a 13-14 lead over Ott DeFoe of Blaine, Tenn., who caught nine bass weighing 31-02 to land in 2nd place.

Today went about as good as I could have imagined, said Thrift. It started out kind of slow it took me an hour, an hour and a half to kind of figure out where the fish were setting. Once I found them, I ended up catching five or six on a jerkbait and a Damiki swimbait. When they quit, I went running around and caught a couple on a shaky-head and hit another spot and ended up catching a (7-pounder) and a 5. I couldnt have asked for a better day.

Ive got about 50 rods on my deck and I think I caught a bass on most of them today, Thrift joked. I caught fish on a lot of different baits. My big one came on a 4-inch swimbait with light line when I first hooked it and was fighting it on the light line I felt like it was way too big to be a bass. I caught it with a 7-foot medium-heavy Fitzgerald Stunner rod paired with a (Abu Garcia) Revo MGX reel and P-Line Tactical 10-pound-test fluorocarbon line.

With only the Top 20 pros advancing after tomorrows day of competition, Thrifts 30-pound cushion over 20th place will allow him to spend day 2 expanding on his pattern and looking for new areas.



MLF
Photo: MLF

A jerkbait was the key to Ott DeFoe's 31-pound haul.

Im going to use tomorrow as a practice day. I dont think I have enough right now to win the event, so Ive got to try to find more. There are going to be a lot of fish in new water in the next few days were looking at three days of sunshine and 70-degree weather. The water is going to warm a lot and these fish could change up really quickly. Its almost March in southern Alabama, so these fish are ready to spawn. Two or three of these hot, sunny days, they can push up shallow. The first person to find that can definitely win this event, so Im going to spend a lot of time looking for that tomorrow.

Like Thrift, DeFoe credited a jerkbait as a big part of his day-1 as well.

I switched up to the jerkbait this morning and that was the big player for me today, DeFoe said. The 13 Fishing Loco Special was the deal. Those fish wanted something a little slower, something you could pause and let hang right in front of their faces. I did catch a really nice one late in the day on a Terminator Pro Series spinnerbait, but the jerkbait was key.

"I feel like Im in pretty good shape and all in all, today was a great start. Ive got a little bit of a cushion, so tomorrow Im going to try to find something else for later this week to go with what Ive got.

Qualifying Round Day 1 Standings

(Figure at far right indicates weight of angler's heaviest fish)

1. Bryan Thrift -- 45-00 (13) -- 7-01

2. Ott DeFoe -- 31-02 (9) -- 5-14

3. Stephen Browning -- 26-04 (9) -- 5-09

4. Brent Chapman -- 26-03 (9) -- 4-15

5. Andy Morgan -- 23-03 (7) -- 4-15

6. Kevin VanDam -- 20-10 (6) -- 5-00

7. Zack Birge -- 20-09 (5) -- 4-13

8. Mark Davis -- 20-08 (5) -- 6-06

9. Takahiro Omori -- 19-15 (6) -- 4-10

10. Andy Montgomery -- 18-09 (6) -- 4-06

11. Alton Jones Jr. -- 17-05 (6) -- 4-01

12. Dustin Connell -- 15-05 (5) -- 4-03

13. Fred Roumbanis -- 15-02 (6) -- 3-06

14. Mark Rose -- 14-11 (5) -- 5-09

15. David Dudley -- 13-07 (3) -- 5-04

16. Randall Tharp -- 12-14 (4) -- 4-00

17. Anthony Gagliardi -- 12-05 (5) -- 2-13

18. Scott Suggs -- 11-13 (3) -- 5-00

19. Wesley Strader -- 9-14 (4) -- 2-11

20. Jacob Wheeler -- 9-10 (2) -- 5-06

21. Chris Lane -- 9-09 (4) -- 3-00

22. Michael Neal -- 9-05 (4) -- 3-00

23. Britt Myers -- 8-15 (2) -- 5-06

24. Jordan Lee -- 8-11 (3) -- 3-10

25. Edwin Evers -- 7-12 (3) -- 2-13

26. Bradley Roy -- 7-12 (2) -- 4-08

27. Josh Bertrand -- 7-03 (3) -- 2-09

28. Jared Lintner -- 6-07 (2) -- 3-06

29. Justin Lucas -- 5-11 (2) -- 3-08

30. Fletcher Shryock -- 5-11 (2) -- 3-04

31. Jacob Powroznik -- 5-06 (2) -- 3-06

32. Jeff Sprague -- 4-15 (2) -- 2-11

33. Mark Daniels Jr. -- 4-14 (2) -- 2-07

34. Adrian Avena -- 2-15 (1) -- 2-15

35. James Elam -- 2-13 (1) -- 2-13

36. Bobby Lane -- 2-07 (1) -- 2-07

37. Brent Ehrler -- 2-07 (1) -- 2-07

38. Luke Clausen -- 2-06 (1) -- 2-06

39. Alton Jones -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00

40. Todd Faircloth -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00