Let’s think about this for a moment. The Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour is made up of 80 of the world’s best pro anglers. Major League Fishing has set up a unique, intense catch-and-release format to put them head-to-head and bring out the best in their skills. If you’re an angler of any stripe, you need to be paying attention.
This new format that kicked off earlier this year will help everyday anglers know what to fish with when in varying conditions at all times of the year. Will KVD throw a crankbait or a swimbait? Will Jordan Lee finesse or flip? Their choices — under the microscope of TV cameras and live streams — will illuminate their years of experience and make us better anglers, too.
There will be at least 14 fishing events this year. You can check out five hours of live streaming during each competition day with free access to the real-time broadcast being available at majorleaguefishing.com.
It’s going to be an exciting 2019, and we bass anglers have a front-row seat. — John Geiger
Major League Fishing co-founder Gary Klein remembers the moment like it was yesterday.
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The parking lot of Red River South Marina in Shreveport, Louisiana, on the first official practice day of the 2009 Bassmaster Classic. Klein (a full-time bass angler since he graduated from high school in 1975) and Boyd Duckett (a successful Alabama businessman and winner of the 2007 Classic) struck up a conversation about the then-current state of professional bass fishing.
“Boyd and I talked about getting guys together that share a vision and passion about trying to elevate the sport,” Klein recalls. “I didn’t know Boyd very well at the time, but as we talked, I saw that Boyd’s desire to take the sport of bass fishing to a whole new level of public awareness was on the same page as my desire to create something new and exciting around a sport that had been pretty much unchanged for over 20 years. That was the very beginning of Major League Fishing, and the start of an ongoing, in-depth conversation that, to be perfectly honest, continues to this day.”
And as Klein and Duckett’s conversation continues, so does the evolution of the MLF “game” and the way in which everyday anglers, local tournament competitors and the general public alike consume the sport of bass fishing.
From MLF Day 1 to today
Klein returned to his home near Weatherford, Texas after that Classic with the general framework of a fishing television show the likes of which had never been seen before. With that framework in mind, production schedules, etc. — he sat down in the driver’s seat of his bass boat with a pen and yellow legal pad, and in 30 minutes drafted up the competition rules for what would become Major League Fishing.
The first MLF show was broadcast on the Outdoor Channel two years later, and thanks to the “live-game” feel of the competition, the product quickly became the most-viewed show on the network.
Fast forward to 2019, where the new MLF Bass Pro Tour, MLF Cup events and General Tire World Championship (along with the traditional MLF Selects for this year only) can be seen on multiple television networks, including the Outdoor Channel, Discovery, the World Fishing Network and CBS. Those competitions can also be viewed on-demand on myoutdoortv.com.
And with the first live streams of “MLF Now!” already having been accomplished in January and February at the first two Bass Pro Tour events at the Kissimmee Chain in Florida and Lake Conroe in Texas, the MLF competition model now reaches an unprecedented number of eyeballs around the world.
“Our model since Day 1 has always been to deliver the sport of bass fishing to more viewers than anybody ever thought possible,” Duckett says. “And not just traditional fishing viewers. Our overall goal has been to both satisfy and expand beyond our core fishing audience, and I think we’re doing that.” — Joel Shangle
Major League Fishing Glossary
SCORETRACKER: The official scoring system of Major League Fishing.
MLF Now! The official name of the MLF Bass Pro Tour live stream seen on majorleaguefishing.com
Scorable bass: Any bass that weighs 1 pound or more when weighed in competition on the official MLF scale.
Shotgun Round: The first round of an MLF Bass Pro Tour and World Championship competition. Weights caught during a Shotgun Round are carried forward into the Elimination Rounds.
Elimination Round: The round of an MLF Cup, Select or Bass Pro Tour event in which some of the anglers are eliminated from competition. Anglers advance out of the Elimination Rounds via their cumulative weights for the Shotgun and Elimination rounds.
Knockout Round: The semi-final round of MLF Bass Pro Tour, MLF Cup and World Championship competitions. Anglers’ weights are zeroed from the Shotgun and Elimination Rounds.
Fish handling violation: When a fish touches either the deck of a competitor’s boat or the competitor cradles a fish against his body to assist in the landing of the fish. A 2-minute penalty is assessed.
MLF Bass Pro Tour: The 80-angler tour created by Major League Fishing. The Bass Pro Tour schedule includes eight regular-season events shown live, and four Cup events (Summit Cup, Challenge Cup, Heritage Cup, Patriot Cup) that are determined by anglers’ performances on the Bass Pro Tour.
Penalty: MLF anglers are given a time penalty for various rules violations (fish handling being the most common). When an angler is assessed a penalty, he must cease all fishing functions and sit for the full duration of the penalty.
HOW TO VIEW MLF & BASS PRO TOUR
Live streaming: Live, on-the-water competition and a comprehensive post-game show for the MLF Bass Pro Tour can be seen at majorleaguefishing.com. “MLF Now!” will stream for five hours every competition day, with a two-hour post-game show to follow.
MLF Selects and MLF Cups (traditional): The Outdoor Channel will broadcast original episodes of the 2019 season of the Geico MLF Selects and General Tire Major League Fishing Cups through June 15. Those episodes will also be viewable on myoutdoortv.com. Previous seasons of MLF can also be seen on the World Fishing Network.
2019 General Tire World Championship: Viewers will see the 2019 General Tire World Championship on CBS Sports, starting at 2 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, June 22 and continuing for the next five Saturdays at that same time.
MLF Cups (Bass Pro Tour): Two-hour episodes of the MLF Cup events will begin to broadcast on Discovery Channel in the fourth quarter of 2019. The fields for those events will be determined by anglers’ performances in the 2019 Bass Pro Tour regular season.