The big news in professional bass fishing the last few months has been the formation of the Major League Fishing Tour, a brand new professional level tour.
It’s an offshoot of the popular MLF television fishing show that was created a few years ago by pro anglers Boyd Duckett and Gary Klein.
Duckett is a former Bassmaster Classic champ who also owns Duckett Fishing. He lives in Guntersville and his business is headquartered in the Conners Island Industrial Park.
With Duckett being a part of the Guntersville community, he said you can bet that Guntersville will have a role in the new MLF Tour.
The city already has a thriving population of professional anglers that’s really a “Who’s Who” in Bassmaster lore – past Classic champs Duckett, Chris Lane, Randy Howell and Jordan Lee, past Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle and pros Matt Lee and Justin Lucas.
Duckett – and a lot of other pro fishermen – think the MLF Tour is a "game changer" and will take professional fishing to new heights.
“We will have 850 hours of national television programming across 3 networks,” Duckett said. “And it will be entertaining. It is going to attract an audience that has never watched professional fishing before and it is going to elevate our sport.”
It could very well elevate Guntersville too. The lake is already well known among bass fishermen but that reputation could grow even more as MLF grows.
“When NASCAR moved to Charlotte, Charlotte became the center for auto racing,” Duckett said. He sees the same thing happening to Guntersville when it comes to bass fishing.
MLF has taken the top 80 anglers from the Bassmaster and FLW tours for its inaugural season.
MLF will continue its 4 Cup events that previously made the basis for the television show. Nothing will change as far as that part of MLF’s TV programming.
The 80 anglers will compete in 8 Tour events. Their performance in the Tour can earn them the opportunity to compete in one of the Cup events and they will build points towards making the World Championship. The top 30 anglers from the Tour will qualify for the championship.
A huge difference in MLF events is that there is no weigh-in at the end of a day of fishing. Each angler has a cameraman in the boat with him. Each fish is weighed when caught and immediately released.
Duckett said that’s a big point for bass conservation.
“We know the lake gets beat up from the pressure,” he said. “This format will help.”
He hopes other tours will adopt the format.
While the announcement of the MLF Tour and so many pro anglers moving over to it seemed to shake things up in professional fishing, none of this is a surprise for Duckett.
“We are working on a business plan we developed 6 years ago,” he said. “And everything is right on track. Stay tuned, because there’s more to come.”
MLF has the backing of perhaps the most influential man in the world of outdoor recreation, Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shop.
“We wanted to involve Johnny early on,” Duckett said. “It’s not just about dollars. Johnny is a conservationist. He backs a lot of conservation efforts with his own dollars. We wanted him involved from the conservation standpoint. He has a passion for wildlife conservation in America.”
The MLF schedule of events has not been released yet. But Duckett hinted that Guntersville will likely have a place.
“I think Guntersville will see a lot of MLF,” Duckett said. “It is evolving to bass fishing as Charlotte is to NASCAR.”