Skeet Reese Claims First Bass Pro Tour Win At MLF Bass Pro Tour General Tire Stage Six Presented By O’Reilly Auto Parts At James River

General Tire pro catches 23 bass totaling 54-3 on final day to earn top award of $100,000

Richmond, VA – On his 55th birthday, Skeet Reese of Auburn, California, received one of the best presents of his life. The newly-announced Bass Fishing Hall of Famer added his first Bass Pro Tour trophy to his long list of accolades at the Major League Fishing (MLF)  General Tire Stage Six Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts on the James River, plus the $100,000 top prize that came with it.

Reese totaled 54 pounds, 3 ounces on 23 scorable bass during Sunday’s Championship Round. He would need just about all of it, as pro Jeff Sprague of Wills Point, Texas, put together a furious late-day rally but ultimately fell 3-11 shy of Reese’s total. 

Link to Hi-Res Photo of General Tire Stage Six Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Winner Skeet Reese
Link to HD Video – Fish-Catch Highlights of Championship Round on James River
Link to Photo Gallery of Championship Round On-The-Water Highlights on James River

The California pro said the 12th victory of his legendary career will go down as one of his most memorable, as each passing season has made him increasingly hungry to join the list of Bass Pro Tour champions.

“This I what I’ve been fishing for the last five years out here, trying to be able to be in a position to hoist one of these Bass Pro Tour trophies,” Reese said. “To beat the group of guys that we compete against – I mean, literally, this is the best group of anglers assembled ever in the history of the sport. So, to beat these guys, that means a lot to me.”

Between his highlighter yellow color scheme and effervescent personality, Reese has never been one to blend in. This week, standing out paid off.

Like just about everyone else in the field, Reese started each day of the Qualifying Round in the Chickahominy River, noting that the tides were perfect for the healthy bass population in the James tributary to feed each morning. Later in the day, he would run back up the James, chasing the low tide. A late flurry on the second day of qualifying near the mouth of the Appomattox River not only assured him a spot in the Knockout Round but showed him the potential of the area.

Assessing the changing tides and the cumulative fishing pressure on the Chickahominy, Reese decided to start both the Knockout and Championship Rounds around the mouth of the Appomattox. Fishing farther upriver than most of his peers gave him a lower tide during the morning – the one time of day bass seemed to feed regardless of tide. 

“The tides weren’t getting right, plus the fish were getting pressured,” Reese explained. “So, I was trying to fish for fish that were not getting hammered as much as what was going on down in the Chick.”

On Championship Sunday, Reese’s decision paid off to the tune of six scorable bass in the first 20 minutes. He wound up totaling nearly 30 pounds during Period 1, taking a lead he would never relinquish.

While just about everyone found the bite best around low tide, the fact that Reese was able to generate bites amid higher water proved key. Sprague caught just one bass during the first three hours of competition. Despite stacking up 31-7 in the final period, he couldn’t quite dig out of that hole.

“I wasn’t expecting to catch as many as I did this morning, and I put the hammer on ‘em and caught almost 30 pounds that first period,” Reese said. “I was like, ‘So, you’re saying I have a chance?’”

Reese’s bait selection also differed from the rest of the field. Fishing “the way I like to fish” –  that is, power fishing around shallow cover – Reese targeted docks and bridge pilings, primarily using a Lucky Craft BDS1 crankbait. He put on a close-quarters casting clinic with the Dive model from his newly released Reese Fishing line of rods, which he paired with a KastKing MG12 reel and 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene fluorocarbon.

“I fished a bladed jig a lot the first day, and I caught a decent amount of fish on it, but it just seemed like the Lucky Craft wound up getting bigger bites for me consistently,” Reese said. “Even if I was fishing water that other guys had fished, it’s something that they weren’t throwing. It was a different look and feel, and once I got dialed into it, I was like, alright, they’re eating this thing.” 

After his morning flurry, Reese steadily added to his total throughout the day. He never went an hour of competition time without catching at least one scorable bass. A 2-2 and 1-10 caught within a few casts of one another with little more than an hour left proved to be the winning fish, although Reese had to sweat out the final few minutes as Sprague caught six bass for 12-5 in a 22-minute span, pulling within one big bite of the lead.

“I went from being, ‘I got this no problem’ to, ‘oh crap, what’s going to happen?” the ever-colorful Reese said. “Thank goodness I built up a big lead early … It was meant to be. I’m going to hold that trophy, and that means a lot.”

As the time ticked away and Reese got closer and closer to the win, it became evident how bad he wanted it. He punctuated most of his fish catches with a shout or a growl. When his boat official confirmed that he’d finished the day atop SCORETRACKER®, he unleashed his loudest yell yet. 

The triumph added another highlight to an unforgettable year. In March, Reese learned that he’d been selected as one of five new members of the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. He’ll be formally inducted in September.

“Getting inducted into the Hall of Fame, they kind of tell you you’re old, and so to be able to get inducted into the Hall of Fame and win again the same year, that’s as good as it gets,” Reese said. “So, there’s a little exclamation point on it.” 

The victory will also go a long way toward extending Reese’s Hall of Fame career beyond this year. With the Bass Pro Tour set to trim its roster to 65 anglers in 2025, Reese entered the season on the wrong side of the cut line. Two tough tournaments to start the year put him in a dire situation, 78th out of 80 anglers in points. 

However, Reese turned it around with a Top 10 at Lake Eufaula, then added a 21st-place finish at the Chowan River and capped the charge with this week’s victory. He now sits 25th in the season-long standings – virtually guaranteed to keep his spot on the Bass Pro Tour roster and well positioned to qualify for REDCREST 2025 on Lake Guntersville, where he’s won twice.

Perhaps most important, he proved to himself that, as his career continues, he still has what it takes to hang with the top anglers on tour.

“I wanted to make sure, for myself, personally, that I was able to compete against the best group of anglers in the world and still win,” Reese said. “It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve got lots of trophies, but I’ve been seeing how many guys have been winning the Bass Pro Tour trophies, and I said, I want one of those.”

The top 10 pros from the General Tire Stage 6 at the James River Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts finished:

1st:          Skeet Reese, Auburn, Calif., 23 bass, 54-3, $100,000
2nd:        Jeff Sprague, Wills Point, Texas, 25 bass, 50-8, $45,000
3rd:         Nick LeBrun, Bossier City, La., 16 bass, 37-3, $38,000
4th:         Bryan Thrift, Shelby, N.C., 16 bass, 35-9, $32,000
5th:         Michael Neal, Dayton, Tenn., 16 bass, 34-10, $30,000
6th:         Gerald Spohrer, Gonzales, La., 14 bass, 32-11, $26,000
7th:         Dylan Hays, Hot Springs, Ark., 14 bass, 30-4, $23,000
8th:         Spencer Shuffield, Hot Springs, Ark., 12 bass, 24-9, $21,000
9th:         Andy Montgomery, Blacksburg, S.C., 10 bass, 18-2, $19,000
10th:       Jonathon VanDam, Kalamazoo, Mich., seven bass, 14-6, $16,000

A complete list of results can be found at MajorLeagueFishing.com.

Overall, there were 153 scorable bass weighing 332 pounds, 1 ounce, caught by 10 pros Sunday, which included one 5-pounder, three 4-pounders and 10 3-pounders. 

Thrift earned Sunday’s $1,000 Berkley Big Bass Award with a 5-pound, 6-ounce largemouth bass that he caught on a speed worm during Period 3, while the $3,000 prize for heaviest bass of the tournament went to Pike Road, Alabama’s Keith Poche, who caught a largemouth weighing 7 pounds, 10 ounces on Day 1 of Group A competition.

Sunday’s action didn’t have much bearing on the battle for the Fishing Clash Angler of the Year crown, with the top four anglers in the points all missing out on the Championship Round. Thus, the situation remains the same: Jacob Wheeler will head to the season finale at the St. Lawrence River with a 19-point lead over Alton Jones Jr. Because Wheeler has won twice this year, even if Jones wins Stage Seven, Wheeler would prevail in a tiebreaker, which means if he makes the Knockout Round, he will claim his third AOY title in the past four years. 

While a slip-up seems unlikely, should Wheeler falter, Jones, Dustin Connell and even rookie Drew Gill could be in the mix to win. Connell sits 16 points behind Jones, with Gill 8 points back of him. 

Fishing Clash, an interactive 3D fishing simulation game that’s played by more than 80 million people worldwide, is the official AOY sponsor of the Bass Pro Tour, Tackle Warehouse Invitationals, Toyota Series and Phoenix Bass Fishing League. You can download Fishing Clash for free in the App Store and on Google Play or log on to www.fishingclash.game for more information.

The General Tire Stage Six at James River Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts featured the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers caught as much weight as they could each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. The tournament featured anglers competing with a 1-pound, 8-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. The MLF Fisheries Management Division determines minimum weights for each body of water that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery. 

The six-day tournament, hosted by Richmond Region Tourism, showcased 78 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing for a purse of $659,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable Angler of the Year (AOY) points in hopes of qualifying for the General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and REDCREST 2025, the Bass Pro Tour championship.

Television coverage of the General Tire Stage Six at James River Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Championship Round will air as a two-hour episode starting at 7 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Nov. 9 on Discovery. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on Discovery, with re-airings on Outdoor Channel.

The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 78 of the top professional anglers in the world, competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2025 championship. 

Proud sponsors of the 2024 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: Abu Garcia, B&W Trailer Hitches, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, BUBBA, Epic Baits, Fishing Clash, Garmin, General Tire, Humminbird, Lowrance, Mercury, MillerTech, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak Fishing, NITRO, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, PowerStop Brakes, Rapala, REDCON1, Star brite, Suzuki, Toyota, U.S. Air Force and WIX Filters.

For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at FacebookXInstagram and YouTube.

About Major League Fishing (MLF)

Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, World Fishing Network and on demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 17 countries. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement and fish care.

Keep your finger on the fishing industry pulse

The Definititive News Source of the Fishing & Marine Industry