17 tournaments. 17 wins. That’s the 2021 scorecard of the Mercury-powered professional bass anglers competing on the Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour and Pro Circuit, the top two levels of MLF competition. Mercury pros won each circuit’s Angler ...
Becomes the first-ever European to win a tour-level bass tournament in the U.S.
Jacopo Gallelli, of Florence, Italy, became the first European to ever win a tour-level professional bass fishing tournament in the United States when he finished first at the Major League Fishing (MLF) BIG5 Pro Circuit event at the Potomac River on June 19. The Mercury Pro Team angler brought in a five-bass limit weighing 20 pounds even on the final day to win. Gallelli’s four-day total of 20 bass weighing 65 pounds, 3 ounces earned him the win by a 2-pound, 5-ounce margin over Mercury pro Michael Neal, of Dayton, Tennessee. Gallelli earned the top prize of $100,000.
Gallelli fished one area in Potomac Creek all four days of the competition. He moved back and forth throughout the creek, running to the top, then drifting down with the wind.
“It’s kind of amazing,” Gallelli said. “It’s been such a long road, and I’ve had so many things happen this season that just weren’t going my way, so to end up here with this win is absolutely amazing. This trophy means way more than the money for me. I’ve invested my entire life trying to achieve this level of fishing in my career, and I am finally here. I came 5,000 miles across the ocean to make this day happen.
“It’s been such a sacrifice, and the sacrifice has continually grown,” continued Gallelli. “If I go back home, I cannot keep competing. I’ve missed my son’s birthday, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and now my attorney says I probably can’t go back to Italy until the beginning of the fall. But I will be coming back with something great. It’s not about the money – it’s about coming home with one of these trophies.
“The only thing that would have made this a better Father’s Day celebration is if I were able to hold this trophy with my son. I dedicate this win to my son, Lapo – ‘Ciao, Lapo.’”
Gallelli has been breaking new ground for European bass fishing for several years now.
He became the only European to ever qualify for an upper-level bass tournament trail when he did so in 2020. The Italian double-qualified for the 2021 MLF Pro Circuit through his high finishes in two 2020 MLF Toyota Series divisions.
Gallelli was also the first European to fish the Bassmaster Classic. He qualified through the 2018 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship and fished the 2019 Classic held in Knoxville, Tennessee, finishing 49th.
“I had made some history already, but now we’ve made even more history with this win,” he said. “Believe it or not, this is the very first event I have ever won in the United States. I’ve had a lot of good results on the lower-level circuits, but never a win, so finally I’ve made my win happen when it really counts. This is as good as it can be. I feel like I am in a film right now, watching from outside my body right now. It’s just unbelievable.”
Gallelli went up against some of the biggest names in tournament bass fishing on Championship Sunday, making the victory even more important for the rookie angler.
“I know I just beat some of the best in the sport, but honestly, it’s not only my skill – it’s the support that I’ve had from everyone,” said Gallelli. “Thousands of people were cheering for me from Italy and Europe; cheering like I was about to win a soccer championship. I don’t even have the courage to open my phone. It’s been ringing and lighting up nonstop. Everyone is calling and sending messages.
“This win is not big because of me,” continued Gallelli. “It’s big because 40 years ago someone launched a bass fishing tournament in Italy, and one young kid started dreaming. I’d like to thank those pioneers of bass fishing in Europe for bringing this idea of fishing to Europe and to Italy. This is a win not only for me but for the entire European bass fishing movement. It’s incredible.”
Gallelli is a big fan of Mercury outboards. He has run a Mercury on all three of his boats in the United States.
“I think everybody wants a Mercury worldwide. Everybody always looks at your motor and thinks you have the best when you have a Mercury. My last motor had over 700 hours when I sold it. I’m a long way from home, I don’t have many friends over here, so I really have to run equipment I can trust. And I trust my Mercury. I was running a long way in this event, up to 35 miles each way, running through bad waves and nearly all the way to the end of tournament waters.”
The top-10 field at the MLF BIG5 Pro Circuit event on the Potomac River included nine pros powered by Mercury. Here’s the top 10:
1. Jacopo Gallelli, of Florence, Italy, 20 bass, 65-3
2. Michael Nea,l of Dayton, Tenn., 20 bass, 62-14
3. Cody Meyer, of Star, Idaho, 20 bass, 62-11
4. Ricky Robinson, of Greenback, Tenn., 20 bass, 60-14
5. Adrian Avena, of Vineland, N.J., 20 bass, 60-1
6. Justin Cooper, of Zwolle, La., 20 bass, 59-12
7. Lawson Hibdon, of Versailles, Mo., 20 bass, 59-5
8. Shin Fukae, of Osaka, Japan, 20 bass, 59-4
9. Terry Bolton, of Benton, Ky., 20 bass, 58-3
10. Josh Bragg, of Jacksonville, Ala., 20 bass, 56-3
Throughout the season, anglers are also vying for valuable points in hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit TITLE presented by Mercury. The TITLE is the Pro Circuit championship, where they will compete for up to $235,000. The 2021 TITLE will be held on the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Aug. 17-22.
The top four anglers in the standings after five events are powered by Mercury, led by Michael Neal of Dayton, Tennessee.