MLF EMBEDDED: Viewers' Guide to World Championship Week 3
By Joel Shangle
July 5, 2018
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Florida – And now for five Major League Fishing pros, it all comes down to one day.
As Jeff Kriet, Greg Hackney, Edwin Evers, Takahiro Omori, Ish Monroe and the TV cameras head out onto the waters of infamous Stick Marsh and Farm 13 near Fellsmere, Florida, this week (Saturday, 2 p.m. EDT on CBS), they know that they’ll be living the definition of “do or die” in the 2018 General Tire World Championship: two anglers will advance to the Sudden Death Round, three will pack it in for the season.
“You want to talk about pressure, man? Yeah, this is pressure,” Kriet remarked the night before the first of the two Elimination Rounds. “I’m wound up as about as tight as a guy can be.”
To continue their quest for the 2018 Johnny Morris Award, Kriet and the rest of five-man field competing on Stick Marsh will have to deal with the following factors:
Evers’ Elimination Round excellence: It doesn’t take much psychological profiling to figure out who deals well with the pressure of an MLF Elimination Round.
Evers has fished 12 Elimination Rounds in his MLF career and has advanced out of an astounding 83 percent of those (10 of 12). He failed to advance at the inaugural Challenge Cup at Lake Amistad in 2012 and the 2015 Summit Cup in Waterville, Maine, but with a healthy weight cushion carried over from his Shotgun Round results, keeping Evers from advancing will be a tall order for the other four competitors.
How much is TOO much to make up?: Hackney finds himself in the unenviable position of starting this Elimination Round with an 8-pound deficit to make up to earn one of the two Sudden Death bids. The Strike King pro scored only 27 pounds, 2 ounces in his Shotgun Round on Lake Garcia, putting him 3 pounds behind Kriet (30-5), and well behind Monroe (35-3), Omori (35-6) and Evers (37-12) as competition begins on Stick Marsh.
GIANTS live in Stick Marsh: Stick Marsh and Farm 13 have been bucket-list destinations for giant largemouth since the 1990s, and several current MLF pros have made side trips to this fishery while traveling in Florida for other competitions. And for good reason: Florida Sportsman magazine lead a 2015 story about Stick Marsh with “If you can’t catch a 6-pound bass on this lake near Vero Beach, something’s wrong.”
Anglers have registered an astounding 96 largemouth between 8 and 9.9 pounds on Stick Marsh as part of Florida’s TrophyCatch program, and an equally astounding 11 largemouth between 10 and 12.9 pounds.
“Stick Marsh is one of the only places I know of where you can catch so many 3- to 6-pounders it’s astonishing,” observes MLF Select pro J.T. Kenney, who lives in nearby Palm Bay. “There are some giants in there, too: 10-, 11-, 12-pounders. You’re not going to see one of those fish every day, but they live there. Can somebody make up 8 pounds there? Yes, they can. In one bite.”