By MLF Communications Staff

In a week in which largemouth bass made up more than 80 percent of all of the fish caught and weighed by the 80 anglers who competed in the MLF Bass Pro Tour event on Cayuga Lake, Dustin Connell stuck with smallmouth and bested them all. The Clanton, Ala. pro caught 25 scorable smallmouth weighing 96 pounds, 12 ounces to claim the victory in Union Springs, N.Y. It maked the third BPT win of Connells career the second of the season and earned him the top payout of $100,000.

I am shook up. This is unbelievable, an emotional Connell said in his post-game interview. I worked so hard for this tournament, man. I sat out here and battled these waves, every day, and I practiced so hard, from daylight to dark. Its so special to win two in one year. This is just nuts.

Id only been here once before I came here a couple of years ago for an MLF Cup event on Cayuga, Connell continued. I only caught two bass all day long. And now were holding the trophy up. And to win it with smallmouth this is unreal.

Connell spent the tournament dropshotting a variety of baits, using his Lowrance ActiveTarget forward-facing sonar to follow the roaming schools of smallmouth.

I caught all of my fish this week on a spinning rod. I had seven or eight of them tied up every day, Connell said. I was using 12-pound Gold Label Seaguar (fluorocarbon) and a variety of different baits. I was using a (Googan) Drag N Drop in green-pumpkin. I caught a bunch of key fish on it around all of the structure.

"For the suspended fish, I caught them on a shad bait. Just following them around. They love to roam during the summer and thats the best way to catch them.

The victory tied Connell with Ott DeFoe for the second-most career wins on the Bass Pro Tour all-time list. Jacob Wheeler, who finished runner-up to Connell this week, leads with five.

I look at guys like Jacob and Ott, and to even be mentioned in the same conversation with them, as that type of fisherman my gosh, Connell said. Im just a kid out here, living his dream. I am so blessed to get this win.

Dakota Ebare earned Thursdays Championship Round $1,000 Berkley Big Bass award, and the $3,000 Berkley Big Bass award for the overall largest bass of the event, with a massive 7-10 smallmouth that bit a Strike King Baby Z-Too during Period 1. Ebares giant smallmouth was just 10 ounces shy of the New York state record that was set on Cayuga in late June.

After six regular-season events in the 2022 season, reigning Angler of the Year (AOY) Wheeler leads with 459 points with just one event left, while Jordan Lee is in 2nd place with 394 points. Andy Morgan is next with 373, followed by Alton Jones with 365.5 and Randall Tharp with 352.

The tournament featured anglers competing with a 2-pound minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.

Championship Round

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

1. Dustin Connell -- 96-12 (25) -- 5-10 -- $100,000

2. Jacob Wheeler -- 80-09 (27) -- 4-03 -- $45,000

3. Andy Montgomery -- 49-07 (17) -- 4-15 -- $38,000

4. Terry Scroggins -- 48-13 (17) -- 3-14 -- $32,000

5. Zack Birge -- 46-10 (14) -- 5-07 -- $30,000

6. Dakota Ebare -- 46-10 (11) -- 7-10 -- $26,000

7. Justin Lucas -- 43-12 (14) -- 4-10 -- $23,000

8. Cody Meyer -- 41-08 (14) -- 4-00 -- $21,000

9. Alton Jones -- 32-14 (11) -- 4-02 -- $19,000

10. Michael Neal -- 32-14 (8) -- 5-02 -- $16,000