Morning storms forced the postponement of the final day of competition of the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Elite Series tournament at Barnett Reservoir.

The 12 finalists, including leader Dustin Connell of Clanton, Ala., now will fish from 6 a.m. until the 2 p.m. weigh-in on Monday.

B.A.S.S. tournament director Trip Weldon made the decision around 4 a.m. on Sunday after lengthy discussions with the National Weather Service in Jackson.

“With the safety of our anglers as our top concern, we felt postponing the final day was the best decision,” Weldon said. “These storms contain significant lightning among other severe weather factors, and it is not worth the risk.”

Admission is free to the public. Parking will be available at Madison Landing.

Connell, a rookie, carries a 5-pound, 6-ounce lead into the final round. The original field of 109 was cut to 51 for Saturday’s third round and only 12 will fish for the $100,000 top prize on Monday.

“The weather delay could hurt Connell because he has been fishing the upper river area, which will now have more current,” said long-time outdoor writer Bobby Cleveland, tournament site facilitator for the Barnett Reservoir Foundation.  “The pattern is likely to change up river.”

Cleveland said to watch out for Kevin VanDam, the most successful professional bass fisherman in the history of the sport.

“He’s been getting better every day and he’s the best there ever was,” Cleveland said “He has moved from outside the top 50 to third place. He’s seen it all. He will adjust to the changing conditions.”

Day 2 of the Elite Outdoor Expo at The Rez presented by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks has been cancelled.

The Ridgeland Tourism Commission and the Barnett Reservoir Foundation are local sponsors of the event.


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Rick Cleveland, a native of Hattiesburg and resident of Jackson, has been Mississippi Today’s sports columnist since 2016. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s in journalism, Rick has worked for the Monroe (La.) News Star World, Jackson Daily News and Clarion Ledger. He was sports editor of Hattiesburg American, executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. His work as a syndicated columnist and celebrated sports writer has appeared in numerous magazines, periodicals and newspapers.
Rick has been recognized 13 times as Mississippi Sports Writer of the Year, and is recipient of multiple awards and honors for his reporting and writing.