Wisconsin's Stefan leads Day One of FLW Tour on Mississippi River
Published By OutdoorsFIRST Media Published May 19, 2017
Pro Matthew Stefan of Junction City, Wisconsin, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 18 pounds even Thursday to sit atop the standings after Day One of the FLW Tour at the Mississippi River presented by Evinrude. Stefan will bring a slim 2-ounce advantage into Day Two of the four-day event that features 160 of the world's top bass anglers competing for a top cash award of up to $125,000.
"I feel like the way I'm fishing is a lot different than what a lot of guys would probably expect," said Stefan, a seven-year Tour veteran who is one of three Wisconsin residents competing in the event. "I live on the Wisconsin River, which is literally a mini-Mississippi River, and what I'm doing right now is exactly what I would be doing back home. It's not anything crazy or off-the-wall, but it's not what a lot of people would go to right off the bat."
Stefan said he began his day in Pool No 8. He caught a couple of keepers before locking down to Pool No. 9 around 7:30 a.m. where he was able to finish off his first limit. Around 10:30 a.m., he said he returned to Pool No. 8 where he was able to cull some earlier bites.
"I'm keying in on the smallmouth - I think I've got a decent pattern," said Stefan. "I didn't really find much for largemouth in practice. I was able to get them to bite, but they were random and didn't have good size to them."
Stefan said he was able to put a dozen keepers in his boat throughout the day, and that his knowledge of the region's smallmouth migration helped him do it.
"The one thing I've learned over the years about the Mississippi River is that if you want to compete here, you've got to understand the migration routes," said Stefan. "It's a little bit different for largemouth and smallmouth. For smallmouth, you've got the migration from the main-river channel to their spawning zones. Whether it's the main channel or two miles into a backwater, you've got specific holding areas in those routes. If you can get an idea of those routes, you can track them."
Stefan said he plans on starting Day Two of the event in Pool No. 8, and would prefer to stay there if he can get the right bites.
"If I can catch the weight I need to make the top-20 cut I may not go down to No. 9 and save those areas for the rest of the weekend," said Stefan. "But, if the morning doesn't go as planned, I'll make the run in a heartbeat."
The top 10 pros after day one on the Mississippi River are:
1st: Matthew Stefan, Junction City, Wis., five bass, 18-0
2nd: Quaker State pro Matt Arey, Shelby, N.C., five bass, 17-14
3rd: Todd Auten, Lake Wylie, S.C., five bass, 16-11
3rd: Livingston Lures pro Andy Morgan, Dayton, Tenn., five bass, 16-11
5th: Yamamoto Baits pro Matt Greenblatt, Port Saint Lucie, Fla., five bass, 16-1
6th: Scott Martin, Clewiston, Fla., five bass, 15-14
7th: Polaris pro David Dudley, Lynchburg, Va., five bass, 15-13