By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor

At least one angler has cracked the 100-pound barrier on each day of the Bass Pro Tour's season finale at Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin. Two pulled it off in the Group B Qualifying Round finale, including the guy who ended up atop the standings and advanced straight to the Championship Round.

Cliff Pace, the winner of last year's Wisconsin BPT event at Neenah, tallied 107-09 on 35 fish to give him a two-day total of 174-00. He outdistanced first-day leader Keith Poche by more than 8 pounds after Poche went the first period and a half without catching a scoreable fish (2 pounds or heavier).

"It was an awesome two days for me and I'm tickled to death to have won this today because everything here is such a variable," Pace said. "You don't know what Mother Nature's going to let you do and what you're going to get to fish. I've had to completely adjust and lay everything to the side and try something new every day."

Poche, who tallied 112-09 on the group's first day, followed up with 53-02 on 18 fish for a 165-11 aggregate. He caught fire after his abysmal start to the day and held the lead very briefly at one point in the final period, but ultimately keep up with Pace's tempo.

"It's highly disappointing because I had a shot at getting the win and advancing (to the finals), but it didn't work out," he said. "I wish I could've gotten off to a better start because then I wouldn't have been in such a bind at the end of the day, but that's the way the chips fall. I'll just have to go to the Knockout Round and handle business."

Jordan Lee, who's attempting to close out his first tour-level Angler of the Year title, also led for a portion of the day before finishing 3rd with 155-04 (83-02 for the day). With a 9-point advantage over his closest pursuer who's still in the event, he could've taken a big step toward securing the crown by winning the group and ensuring a top-10 finish. Instead, he now has more work to do to hold off Wheeler and a few other competitors who are still mathematically alive.



MLF/Phoenix Moore
Photo: MLF/Phoenix Moore

Points leader Jordan Lee had another good day, but didn't catch enough to gain an early berth in the Championship Round.

"I'm happy to move on (to the Knockout Round), but I wanted to win today and move right to the Championship Round," he said. "I'll have to regroup and get on them again in the morning.

"Catching 83 pounds of smallmouth isn't a bad way to spend a Monday. "I was glad I got on to them today sight-fishing (in shallow water), but I don't know what the wind's going to do to that tomorrow."

The remainder of the top 10 consists of Mike Iaconelli (144-05), Bobby Lane (132-09), Jared Lintner (132-02), Cody Meyer (122-11), Jason Christie (116-01), Alton Jones (112-05) and Bradley Roy (109-06).

Lintner joined Pace in the triple-digit club with a day-best 119-05 haul on 40 fish. He'd started the day in 36th place out of 40 anglers in the group.

"I changed locations and I kind of got really fortunate," he said. "I went to a totally different area of the lake thinking I was just going to graph out deep trying to find a school and I didn't really find anything. I was within 5 or 6 miles of a place I'd gone through in practice throwing a jerkbait when it was windy and nasty and I saw five or 10 fish, so I dropped a waypoint.

"When I went to that waypoint today, it was loaded. It's a tiny flat off an island and it was just choked. I don't know what those fish were doing there and I don't know anything about it.

He employed a dropshot rig with a Jackall Crosstail Shad, a Ned rig and a Neko rig.

"I was catching them anywhere from 6 to 9 feet of water. It was so flat-calm that you couldn't throw a reaction bait or anything like that, but it was fun."

The mild conditions seemed to push a lot of the smallmouths into shallower water where competitors could see them before casting to them.

After failing to get a bite in his primary spot from the first day, Pace relocated to a big flat with grass and teed off on fish in 6 to 12 feet of water. He also changed his presentation from a dropshot setup to a wacky-rigged worm.

"When the wind is rough, the grass lays down because of the current and the fish move to a current break they take advantage of what Mother Nature gives them," he said. "Today they were in there and I could see them and I was able to catch a bunch of them."

Competitors may not see the sun the rest of the way as the forecast for Tuesday calls for clouds, a high temperature of 78 degrees and a powerful south wind that could reach 25 mph. Rain is predicted for the Championship Round on Wednesday.

Eight anglers out of the 38 who'll compete in the Knockout Round will join pace and Group A winner Justin Lucas in the finals. Weights will be zeroed for the start of both remaining days.

Weather Forecast

> Tues., July 14 Cloudy - 78/67
- Wind: From the S at 15 to 25 mph

> Weds., July 15 Rain - 75/62
- Wind: From the NE at 5 to 10 mph

Group B Qualifying Round 2

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

1. Cliff Pace -- 23, 66-07 -- 35, 107-09 -- 58, 174-00 -- 4-14

2. Keith Poche -- 44, 112-09 -- 18, 53-02 -- 62, 165-11 -- 4-03

3. Jordan Lee -- 24, 71-12 -- 31, 83-08 -- 55, 155-04 -- 4-10

4. Mike Iaconelli -- 23, 67-09 -- 26, 76-12 -- 49, 144-05 -- 4-08

5. Bobby Lane -- 21, 67-00 -- 22, 65-09 -- 43, 132-09 -- 4-09

6. Jared Lintner -- 4, 12-13 -- 40, 119-05 -- 44, 132-02 -- 4-04

7. Cody Meyer -- 19, 60-11 -- 22, 62-00 -- 41, 122-11 -- 4-07

8. Jason Christie -- 20, 56-12 -- 22, 59-05 -- 42, 116-01 -- 4-01

9. Alton Jones -- 16, 43-11 -- 26, 68-10 -- 42, 112-05 -- 4-03

10. Bradley Roy -- 18, 52-13 -- 21, 56-09 -- 39, 109-06 -- 4-09

11. Skeet Reese -- 22, 67-03 -- 14, 40-13 -- 36, 108-00 -- 4-08

12. Edwin Evers -- 24, 62-00 -- 17, 44-09 -- 41, 106-09 -- 4-00

13. Alton Jones, Jr. -- 31, 89-07 -- 4, 13-12 -- 35, 103-03 -- 4-14

14. Marty Robinson -- 16, 49-11 -- 17, 51-07 -- 33, 101-02 -- 4-05

15. Ish Monroe -- 6, 17-08 -- 28, 82-02 -- 34, 99-10 -- 4-06

16. Matt Lee -- 15, 48-12 -- 16, 48-10 -- 31, 97-06 -- 5-01

17. Todd Faircloth -- 23, 64-05 -- 10, 26-00 -- 33, 90-05 -- 3-12

18. Gerald Spohrer -- 20, 59-04 -- 10, 30-09 -- 30, 89-13 -- 4-06

19. Stephen Browning -- 15, 48-02 -- 12, 34-08 -- 27, 82-10 -- 5-01

20. Ott DeFoe -- 9, 32-14 -- 17, 48-01 -- 26, 80-15 -- 4-15

The following anglers did not make the cut and will not compete in the Knockout Round.

21. Britt Myers -- 18, 52-11 -- 9, 25-11 -- 27, 78-06 -- 4-10

22. Chris Lane -- 13, 43-08 -- 13, 34-01 -- 26, 77-09 -- 5-02

23. Zack Birge -- 13, 44-12 -- 10, 30-15 -- 23, 75-11 -- 4-11

24. Brent Ehrler -- 15, 49-04 -- 8, 23-14 -- 23, 73-02 -- 4-05

25. Andy Montgomery -- 9, 21-14 -- 18, 49-03 -- 27, 71-01 -- 3-14

26. Adrian Avena -- 19, 57-13 -- 5, 12-07 -- 24, 70-04 -- 5-09

27. Michael Neal -- 14, 38-05 -- 11, 31-09 -- 25, 69-14 -- 4-03

28. Russ Lane -- 16, 49-07 -- 5, 19-14 -- 21, 69-05 -- 4-09

29. Luke Clausen -- 12, 31-00 -- 13, 36-07 -- 25, 67-07 -- 3-12

30. Greg Vinson -- 13, 40-05 -- 9, 24-09 -- 22, 64-14 -- 4-05

31. James Watson -- 12, 33-05 -- 9, 29-05 -- 21, 62-10 -- 4-14

32. Jeff Kriet -- 9, 30-04 -- 9, 27-07 -- 18, 57-11 -- 4-11

33. Tommy Biffle -- 11, 40-04 -- 2, 5-14 -- 13, 46-02 -- 4-13

34. Bryan Thrift -- 3, 9-05 -- 10, 29-13 -- 13, 39-02 -- 3-15

35. Terry Scroggins -- 5, 14-11 -- 7, 22-09 -- 12, 37-04 -- 4-02

36. Roy Hawk -- 8, 23-09 -- 2, 5-00 -- 10, 28-09 -- 3-13

37. Randy Howell -- 2, 6-14 -- 5, 13-14 -- 7, 20-12 -- 3-12

38. Wesley Strader -- 5, 13-13 -- 2, 4-11 -- 7, 18-08 -- 3-05

39. Mike McClelland -- 2, 9-01 -- 2, 8-12 -- 4, 17-13 -- 5-00

40. Greg Hackney -- 2, 6-09 -- 2, 6-15 -- 4, 13-08 -- 4-06