Major League Fishing Going National
Major League Fishing (MLF) made a bombshell announcement today stating they will be expanding in 2019 to make up an additional pro level tour. This will definitely have some rippling effects throughout the bass fishing world. There are already two major players in the game, FLW and the Bassmasters. As with any major sports leagues you’ll find ardent fans of both of them. Just as if you were to see in American League and National League baseball fans. Now they’re adding a third level to that game.
Or are they?
BASS and FLW have long ignored the west coast, or if not simply ignoring it, they definitely have de-prioritized it. Left Coast anglers like Aaron Martins, Mark Daniels, Brent Ehrler, Chris Zaldain, and Justin Lucas – to only name a few – had always needed to make their break into the tour or Elites by traveling thousands of miles to the qualifying events. Some of them, to include Aaron Martins, Justin Lucas, and John Murray to be specific have left the west coast altogether and now live in different locations along the Tennessee River. The forgotten west coast responded by building the third professional series which is the Wild West Bass Trail. So adding MLF to the mix of touring pros is yet another avenue.
The Made for TV format
is definitely exciting to watch, and it’s a very eye opening means to learn how the best in the sport quickly break down a given body of water. However, I believe it won’t be for everyone. Take the unfortunate events during Day Three of the FLW Tour Event on Kentucky Lake. With more than three days of practice, the two top anglers found themselves together during day three of that event. Now, this isn’t to surmise on who found those fish first or the ethics of pulling in on someone, but it’s displaying a fact that when a year’s salary worth of winnings is on the line anglers will do what they can to compete. Now add in the no practice rules – if those will still apply – and you will have another aspect of the competition.
The other aspect is the fact that anglers won’t be able to say anything close to “I found them here in practice”.
In fact there’s a real possibility that by simply checking maps an angler doing poorly could move right in on top of one of the lead competitor’s spots and begin to catch them. Does that become unethical? Even if it can be proven the angler moving in was so removed from the lead angler’s position as to have no clue where he was? It may, but the ethics game will need to evolve as well.
So now we’re changing how the most basic courtesies on the water are given to other anglers. There will be many who resist this, and want nothing to do with it. Many will embrace it. In my opinion the only way to truly measure an angler’s prowess is to put him or her on an unfamiliar body of water with no information and see how they do. It will be, and MLF has been, a major change in the approach to the sport.
I do believe a lot of dreams will come true as the
Elites and Tour anglers make their move to MLF
At the end of the day though, it will dramatically increase the number of professional players in the game. With a starting field of 80 boats, those are 80 guys who will not be fishing the Bassmasters Elites or FLW Trail. Which means more open seats for those aspiring to fish on that level. How exactly it will be changing the sport for the long term, we will have to see. However, I do believe a lot of dreams will come true as the Elites and Tour anglers make their move to MLF. As they will leave room open for many who find themselves barely outside the qualification cuts for the other professional series.