CULLMAN, Ala. – After waiting through a rain delay early Saturday morning, 40 anglers hit Smith Lake for the knockout round of Major League Fishing’s (MLF) Bass Pro Tour Stage Five event but only 10 can advance to Sunday. Unfortunately for local pros Jesse Wiggins, Jordan Lee and Matt Lee, the fish weren’t biting the way they did earlier in the week and all three failed to make the cut for Sunday’s championship round.
After racking up nearly 100 pounds in his first two days on the water and shattering an MLF record, Wiggins reeled in just seven fish on Saturday for 9lbs. 9oz. to finish in 38th place. Cullman High School alums Jordan and Matt Lee fell short of the cut line as well. Jordan finished 37th after pulling in 10lbs. 12oz. today and Matt made a late run at the top 10 but came up just short with 26lbs. 11oz. in 13th place.
Wiggins couldn’t quite explain his struggles in the knockout round, especially after having so much success earlier in the week.
“Let’s don’t talk about today, lets talk about the last couple of days I fished,” Wiggins joked. “Today was just bad. I don’t know what happened. I went back to where I set the record and couldn’t get any bites at all. I got a few bites, but I just couldn’t get it going today. I missed a bunch and just didn’t catch them; I got my butt whooped today.”
Despite coming up short this weekend, Wiggins was still excited to be able to fish in a major tournament in his home town and is optimistic about his chances going forward this season.
“I just want to thank everyone for coming out and I’m looking forward to Table Rock in a couple weeks. Hopefully I can make a top 40 again and eventually we’re going to get into that top ten,” Wiggins said. “This day three has gotten me the last couple tournaments but we’re going to get it eventually.”
Matt Lee was closer to the cut line than Jordan or Jesse but couldn’t quite get over the hump. He was within striking distance for nearly the entire round but says he just couldn’t come up with that last bite.
“It’s so good to be here, the week was great for me. It didn’t end how I wanted it, we had some adverse conditions today and got a late start, which really didn’t bother me, but it was having the shorter day,” Lee said. “I wasn’t catching 40 in 20 minutes; I needed all day to kind of work my way up and then with five minutes left I caught a 3-12 and was 5lbs. 10oz. out and then I was 2lbs. out and I just couldn’t get that other bite. I don’t know, how do you not catch one more? It’s just kind of like you’re numb too it but it was close, so close.”
Despite coming up short of the cut line, Lee still had a great week competing in his home town and won’t soon forget the experience on Smith Lake.
“It was a fun week. I caught a bunch of fish and it was awesome to be here,” Lee said. “I wanted to get the win and it didn’t work out, but it was such a fun week.”
Top 10 anglers going into Championship Sunday, weights will reset for final round:
Jason Christie – 48lbs. 3oz.
Dustin Connell – 40lbs. 9oz.
Mark Rose – 39lbs. 3oz.
Fred Roumbanis – 36lbs. 1oz.
Michael Neal – 34lbs. 13oz.
Mike Iaconelli – 34lbs. 11oz.
Todd Faircloth – 33lbs. 7oz.
Dean Rojas – 32lbs. 10oz.
Brent Chapman – 31lbs.
Brent Ehrler – 30lbs. 7oz.
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