Local pro angler wins $100,000

Jacob Wheeler from Harrison, Tenn. celebrates his $100,000 win in the first Major League Fishing event of the year on Alabama's Lake Eufaula. (Photo courtesy MLF)

Professional bass angler Jacob Wheeler from Harrison, Tenn. won the first Major League Fishing (MLF) tournament of the season with 24 bass weighing in at 68 pounds. MLF Rookie Bryan Thrift led the field handsomely early in Period 1 with five catches in the first 30 minutes of competition. Ott DeFoe landed scorable bass on a steady pace all day long, including holding the lead at the of Periods 1 and 2. Ultimately Wheeler secured a solid lead with an 11-fish run as the clock wound down.

With cameras rolling on MLFNOW! at the end of Period 3, Jacob Wheeler paused to take in the reality that he had won.

“Unbelievable,” he exclaimed. “To start off this 2020 Bass Pro Tour season with a win here on Lake Eufaula; it’s unbelievable. I owe it to everyone who supports me, especially my wife, Alicia (a teacher at Chattanooga School for the Arts & Sciences).”

“Second place feels like a win to me,” Thrift said. “My hat’s off to Jacob, and I have no complaints about my week. It’s a great feeling to finish well in my first Major League Fishing event.”

Ott DeFoe rode a strong morning bite to a commanding lead in the second period. He caught the Berkley Big Bass of the Day, weighing in at six pounds 15 ounces, within 90 minutes of Period 1. As the sun passed overhead, Thrift assumed a seemingly comfortable lead before Wheeler took control for good with an impressive flurry of fish catches: 11 in one hour, 24 for the day.

“I caught two right away and then the first spot dried up,” DeFoe said. “They weren’t set up the same as they were yesterday, and I couldn’t get them fired up.”

The Phoenix Boats Daily Leader award went to Jacob Wheeler with 68 pounds.

The B&W Hitches Stage One presented by Power-Pole Championship Round finished as follows:

  • 1st - Jacob Wheeler w/68 lbs. winning $100,000
  • 2nd - Bryan Thrift w/40-11 lbs. winning $42,000
  • 3rd - Ott DeFoe w/34-09 lbs. winning $30,000
  • 4th - Alton Jones, Jr. w/26-12 lbs. winning $24,000
  • 5th - Dustin Connell w/24 lbs. winning $18,000

For complete results from the entire week, visit

The Bass Pro Tour continues next week, February 21-26, with Favorite Fishing Stage Two presented by Bass Cat on Lake Okeechobee (Fla.). Each day begins with launch 7:15 a.m. local time before lines-in at 8:00 a.m. Period 1 ends at 10:30 a.m. Period 2 spans 10:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. Period 3 begins at 1:30 p.m. and lasts until day’s end at 4:00 p.m. The General Tire Takeout show airs approximately 4:15 – 5:15 p.m. as anglers return to the ramp and interact with fans.