By MLF Communications Staff

BYRDSTOWN, Tenn. – Talk of a youth revolution has become a hot topic in the tournament bass-fishing world as a cadre of teenaged and 20-something anglers seems to be qualifying for top tours and winning trophies with increased frequency.

Through two days of competition on Dale Hollow Lake in Tennessee, the MLF Bass Pro Tour event has followed the same script. Twenty-year-old Marshall Robinson of Landrum, S.C., the youngest angler on the BPT, boated 29 scorable bass for a massive total of 92 pounds, 8 ounces on Wednesday, the first day of qualifying for Group B. Robinson battled with Dustin Connell of Clanton, Alabama, for the top spot on ScoreTracker throughout the day, ultimately finishing 4-1 clear of the reigning REDCREST champion.

Robinson’s impressive showing comes a day after 21-year-old Drew Gill of Mount Carmel, Ill. claimed the top spot during Group A’s first day on the water. Robinson headlines a loaded Group B leaderboard, with Connell, Alton Jones Jr., Jacob Wheeler and Justin Lucas — all past BPT winners — lurking right behind him.

Inextricably linked with the discussion about the recent success of young anglers has been the polarizing debate about forward-facing sonar and finesse fishing, most notably the jighead minnow. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that’s how Robinson amassed his weight Wednesday.

“I’m throwing a minnow a lot,” he said. “And then I also have a few key bottom baits. I’m throwing a Ned rig some and a dropshot, just picking off some of those fish that might be spawning, locked on and don’t want to come off their bed. But I kept it pretty simple. I don’t think I threw more than four rods today.”

Robinson identified the pattern that keyed his hot start on the first day of practice. The fish had moved a bit by Wednesday, but once he figured out how they were setting up, the action was fast and furious. He replicated his success on multiple spots across the lake, which should bode well for the coming days.

“I don’t think I caught more than four or five fish off of one area,” Robinson said. “I would just jump from area to area running my pattern and pick up three, four, five fish over and over again.”

During practice, Robinson caught mostly largemouth. On Wednesday, however, he did the majority of his damage with smallmouth, catching 20 scorable brown fish compared to nine green ones.

It wasn’t just Robinson, but Group B as a whole that caught more smallmouth than the anglers in Group A did during their first day on the water. The brown fish Dale Hollow is best known for comprised nearly 37 percent of the 448 scorable bass weighed on the day, although a 5-11 largemouth caught by Andy Morgan won Berkley Big Bass honors.

More important for Robinson was the fact that, regardless of species, he not only found fish in bulk quantities but impressive quality. Of the 23 total bass that tipped the scales at 4 pounds or more Wednesday, Robinson caught five of them. Connell boated two more scorable bass than Robinson, but Robinson’s average size (3.19 pounds) earned him the top spot.

“You’re going to have a bunch of guys who catch the same amount of fish, so the only thing that’s going to set you apart is figuring out what those bigger fish are doing, ... because you can catch one fish that weighs what two of theirs does,” Robinson said.

Almost certainly assured a spot in the Knockout Round even if he fails to catch a keeper on the second day of qualifying, Robinson said he plans to use Friday to explore new water and hopefully find more places that fit his pattern. He’s optimistic that targeting offshore schools with forward-facing sonar, which dominated Wednesday, will be the way to win, but he’s not totally counting out the shallow bite.

“I really think there’s a chance that shallow fish could play, but it’s all dependent on if they make a push (to spawn) or not,” he said. “I don’t see the tournament being won on the bank unless a big wave moves up (to spawn). I definitely think the deeper ‘Scope bite is dominant right now.”

The son of Bass Pro Tour veteran Marty Robinson of Lyman, S.C. and the Rookie of the Year winner on the MLF Invitationals last year, the younger Robinson isn’t nervous about holding an early lead. While he’s still looking for his first professional win, he’s fished – and held his own – against big-name competition before.

However, he acknowledged that seeing his name atop SCORETRACKER® in just his third BPT event feels a bit surreal.

"It feels almost too good to be true,” he said. “I might puke, but it is a really good feeling. It makes you feel accomplished.”

The 39 anglers in Group B will now have an off day from competition Thursday, while the 40 anglers competing in Group A will wrap up their two-day Qualifying Round. Group B will finish their Qualifying Round on Friday.

After each two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers who finish first through 10th from each group advance to Saturday’s Knockout Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 20 anglers compete to finish in the Top 10 to advance to Sunday’s Championship Round, when weights will again be zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers launch at 7:30 a.m. CT each day from Sunset Marina and Resort, located at 2040 Sunset Dock Road in Monroe. Each day’s takeout is held at the park beginning at 4 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the ScoreTracker leaderboard and event coverage at

The MLFNOW! broadcast team of Chad McKee and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action live on the final four days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLFNOW! will be live streamed on and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.

The event features the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers catch as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the ScoreTracker leaderboard. Anglers are competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. The MLF Fisheries Management Division determines minimum weights for each body of water that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

Group B Qualifying Round – Day 1

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

1. Drew Gill -- 77-15 (26) -- 5-12

2. Jeff Sprague -- 61-11 (22) -- 4-00

3. Britt Myers -- 60-10 (19) -- 4-03

4. Michael Neal -- 60-07 (20) -- 4-06

5. Ott DeFoe -- 54-07 (21) -- 3-14

6. Cole Floyd -- 53-02 (16) -- 5-09

7. David Dudley -- 45-15 (17) -- 3-15

8. Adrian Avena -- 42-04 (15) -- 3-10

9. Spencer Shuffield -- 41-13 (15) -- 4-01

10. Keith Poche -- 41-02 (15) -- 4-12

11. Martin Villa -- 39-06 (16) -- 3-02

12. Terry Scroggins -- 36-03 (12) -- 4-01

13. Jesse Wiggins -- 36-03 (13) -- 3-12

14. Scott Suggs -- 35-15 (12) -- 5-02

15. Randy Howell -- 34-05 (10) -- 5-05

16. John Hunter -- 31-15 (11) -- 4-05

17. Matt Becker -- 31-11 (12) -- 3-13

18. Josh Bertrand -- 30-13 (11) -- 3-12

19. Matt Lee -- 25-13 (10) -- 3-05

20. Fletcher Shryock -- 24-13 (9) -- 4-06

21. Ron Nelson -- 24-11 (9) -- 3-10

22. Stephen Browning -- 24-09 (10) -- 3-05

23. James Elam -- 23-02 (7) -- 4-01

24. Nick Hatfield -- 22-06 (7) -- 4-00

25. Jacob Wall -- 21-04 (8) -- 4-02

26. Bobby Lane -- 18-09 (8) -- 2-13

27. John Murray -- 18-05 (7) -- 3-10

28. Colby Schrumpf -- 17-13 (7) -- 3-03

29. Skeet Reese -- 17-04 (7) -- 3-04

30. Gerald Spohrer -- 15-05 (5) -- 3-08

31. Greg Vinson -- 14-00 (5) -- 3-09

32. Takahiro Omori -- 12-13 (5) -- 4-09

33. Joshua Weaver -- 12-13 (4) -- 4-00

34. Zack Birge -- 12-05 (4) -- 3-14

35. Ryan Salzman -- 8-04 (3) -- 3-00

36. David Walker -- 6-10 (2) -- 3-14

37. Edwin Evers -- 5-02 (2) -- 2-14

38. Fred Roumbanis -- 4-12 (2) -- 2-06

39. Jacopo Gallelli -- 3-12 (1) -- 3-12

40. Gary Klein -- 3-03 (1) -- 3-03