By MLF Communications Staff

EDENTON, N.C. – It was more of the same for Group B at the MLF Bass Pro Tour event at the Chowan River, with plenty of bass caught and beautiful scenery to enjoy. Also the same, Jacob Wheeler took a commanding lead after one day of fishing with 18 bass for 47 pounds, 5 ounces.

Wheeler, who’s already won twice this season, has proved he doesn’t have a specific type of fishery on which he shines; in reality, it’s anywhere bass swim. He’s a threat to win any tournament, any time. The Chowan River was a mystery to nearly everyone in the field before this week, and Wheeler appears to have figured it out fairly quickly.

He was in command most of the day and has a lead of more than 16 pounds over reigning Angler of the Year (AOY) Matt Becker, who tallied 13 bass for 30-14 to finish the day in 2nd. Becker’s day included a 6-7 catch in the second period, which stood as the Berkley Big Bass until Marshall Robinson’s 7-5 midway through the third period.

Like his friend and roommate Dustin Connell on Tuesday, Wheeler easily outpaced the field after one day of Group B competition. The two have a friendly rivalry, and each has won twice this year. Both look like solid favorites to add to that winning r´sumé. For the record, Connell led his group by 16-5 and Wheeler by 16-7, but where it matters will be how the rest of the week unfolds.

With a solid cushion over the field, Wheeler has one plan for Friday when he returns to the Chowan River.

“Practicing. That’s what I’ll be doing Friday,” Wheeler said. “My goal for today was to catch as much as possible and give myself a cushion, and I think I did that. The cut weight is a little more than half of what I had today, which takes some of the pressure off. I can come back out Friday, have fun, and I shouldn’t have to worry about catching too many of them. It feels good.”

One of the best in the sport at playing the strategy game, Wheeler is already looking ahead to the Knockout and Championship Rounds.

“Weather is going to be a huge factor in a place this big,” he said. “The wind will dictate where you can fish; if it’s calm, you can fish it all. That will be part of my plan for Friday as I look for new areas for the different wind directions.”

Wheeler did visit the Chowan River before it went off-limits, and some of that helped, but he’s looking for more recent data as he seeks yet another Bass Pro Tour win.

“I came down before it went off-limits for a day and a quarter and mainly just ran around,” he said. “I covered a few hundred miles and liked what I saw, but I still didn’t know what to expect this week. Much of what I saw then and even what I found in practice becomes irrelevant because these events are so long from when we start practice to the final day. Having a cushion over the cut and a chance to look (around) Friday is a huge deal because it’s the most up-to-date information possible.”

Unwilling to give up much of the goods this early in the event, Wheeler did share that he’s fishing a large area rather than just one spot. Also, his primary technique seems to be working for both numbers and quality of fish.

“It’s a big zone of 25 or 30 miles that I’m fishing, and I feel like I can catch a lot of fish doing what I’m doing,” he said. “This event will be all about those bigger bites and won’t be won catching big numbers of 1-8 and 1-9 bass. You’ll need some mid-grade fish between 4 and 6 pounds to win. I feel good about today because I had three over 4 pounds.”

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

Wheeler had a solid 23-point lead in the Angler of the Year race heading into this event and can widen the gap even further. His closest pursuers also had strong starts to the event, so the rest of this tournament will be critical and help shape the race with just two events remaining after this week.

Alton Jones, Jr. was 2nd in the points behind Wheeler and sits in 7th after one day of fishing in Group A. Connell was just behind Jones and led his group yesterday, and Bass Pro Tour Rookie Drew Gill was behind Connell and finished up in 3rd today. It’s still too early to tell, but the top anglers who have done well all season have come to play this week in Edenton.

After each two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers who finish first through 10th from each groups 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, where weights are again zeroed and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.

Anglers launch at 7:30 a.m. ET each day from Pembroke Creek Park, located at 716 W. Queen Street in Edenton. Each day’s takeout is held at the park beginning at 4 p.m. Due to forecasted high winds, MLF has enacted the MLF Trailering Policy for Thursday, meaning pros can trailer their boats and drive them to any ramp on the fishery closer to where they plan to start fishing. Anglers taking advantage of the policy will leave Pembroke Creek Park at 7 a.m. ET and will begin fishing at 8 a.m. ET (Lines In) with the full field.

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

The tournament 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 1-pound, 8-ounce 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. Jacob Wheeler -- 47-05 (18) -- 4-11

2. Matt Becker -- 30-14 (13) -- 6-07

3. Drew Gill -- 28-07 (14) -- 3-09

4. Alton Jones -- 28-05 (10) -- 6-00

5. Adrian Avena -- 27-04 (13) -- 3-02

6. Ott DeFoe -- 27-00 (12) -- 4-12

7. Andy Montgomery -- 26-03 (12) -- 4-15

8. Zack Birge -- 26-03 (11) -- 4-11

9. Bobby Lane -- 25-08 (11) -- 5-08

10. Michael Neal -- 24-11 (8) -- 5-05

11. Skeet Reese -- 20-00 (10) -- 2-08

12. Keith Poche -- 19-03 (8) -- 5-10

13. Justin Cooper -- 17-13 (9) -- 3-00

14. Brandon Coulter -- 17-01 (7) -- 3-05

15. Jeff Sprague -- 16-14 (9) -- 2-07

16. Casey Ashley -- 16-11 (9) -- 2-08

17. Fletcher Shryock -- 16-10 (5) -- 5-01

18. Marshall Robinson -- 16-06 (5) -- 7-05

19. Takahiro Omori -- 16-06 (7) -- 3-06

20. Ron Nelson -- 16-00 (7) -- 3-04

21. David Walker -- 15-07 (5) -- 3-14

22. Matt Lee -- 15-03 (6) -- 4-03

23. Cole Floyd -- 12-14 (5) -- 3-08

24. Keith Carson -- 12-04 (7) -- 2-08

25. Grae Buck -- 11-00 (5) -- 3-09

26. Andy Morgan -- 10-00 (5) -- 2-06

27. Cliff Crochet -- 9-14 (4) -- 3-01

28. Todd Faircloth -- 9-14 (5) -- 2-07

29. Edwin Evers -- 9-14 (5) -- 2-05

30. Shin Fukae -- 8-14 (4) -- 3-04

31. Gerald Spohrer -- 7-12 (3) -- 2-13

32. Joshua Weaver -- 7-07 (3) -- 3-01

33. Jared Lintner -- 6-12 (3) -- 3-12

34. Brent Chapman -- 6-02 (3) -- 2-11

35. Ryan Salzman -- 5-01 (3) -- 1-15

36. Jacopo Gallelli -- 3-00 (1) -- 3-00

37. Dean Rojas -- 2-06 (1) -- 2-06

38. Britt Myers -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00

38. Josh Bertrand -- 0-00 (0) -- 0-00