Major League Fishing, Bass Pro Shops and Outdoor Sportsman Group announce new fishing competition to start in 2019.
Major League Fishing announced plans Tuesday for “significant expansion” in 2019 that is aimed at growing the sport of fishing.
“The plans will help realize the founding partners’ original vision for MLF to elevate competitive bass fishing and its top-tier pros to a national exposure level and grow a fan base on par with other top major league sports,” according to a news release.
MLF’s new Bass Pro Tour reportedly would include 80 elite-level anglers, an eight-tournament circuit with a season-ending championship and higher payouts. Giant fishing-tackle retailer Bass Pro Shops and Outdoor Sportsman Group, which is the parent company of Game & Fish Magazines, Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel and other titles, are “enthusiastic” supporters.
OSG also owns the MLF production company, Winnercomm.
“Seven years ago, Gary Klein and I settled on a mission to expand the sport of professional bass fishing through competitive tournaments with an all new and exciting made-for-television format,” said MLF and Pro Bass Tour Anglers’ Association (PBT) co-founder Boyd Duckett. “After assembling 13 more of the sport’s top-level professionals, the PBT partnership was formed. We always believed if we elevated the visibility of our sport everyone in our industry would be a beneficiary.
“The preparation leading to this moment has been slow, methodical and well thought-out to ensure the outcome would be positive for everyone connected to the sport. As a result, we have a fully developed plan ready to go. Everyone in the fishing industry should appreciate the new path that Outdoor Sportsman Group and [Bass Pro Shops] have helped pave for the sport’s future because of their own personal beliefs toward conservation and the responsible use of our fish and water resources.”
Statements from sponsors:
- Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris: “Bass Pro Shops has proudly supported MLF from its inception because we believed in its mission to elevate the sport of fishing. Today we’re very excited to take the next step and help showcase this great sport to every household in America. We truly believe this partnership will create many positive and significant new opportunities for kids and families, professional anglers and the sport itself. Equally important to us is leveraging this popular platform to showcase the importance of conservation and promote responsible fishing practices.”
- Outdoor Sportsman Group Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Matt Hutchings: “MLF has delivered on its promised vision every step of the way since Day One. MLF has made fishing an even more popular spectator sport through televised events on Outdoor Channel and other networks, as well as Outdoor Sportsman Group’s diverse media platforms in publishing and online. The MLF model is a proven success and we are excited to continue the journey with all of our partners towards future prosperity.”
MLF will continue its popular Cup events and World Championship — airing on Outdoor Channel and CBS — and will now also have its own new Bass Pro Tour competitions and championship, and eventually tour qualifiers, all of which will use the same MLF format.
MLF officials will announce the finalized Bass Pro Tour schedule, format and anglers in the coming weeks.
According to Nielsen ratings, MLF has been Outdoor Channel’s top-rated show in first quarters for three years in a row. For current MLF schedules, rules, pros and sponsors, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com.