Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Returns to Lewis Smith Lake
Feb 25th, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified Feb 25th, 2022 at 8:39 AM
80 Pro Anglers Set to Compete Over Six Days for More Than $800,000 at Favorite Fishing Stage Three on Lewis Smith Lake Presented by Mercury
CULLMAN, Ala. (Feb. 25, 2022) – Major League Fishing (MLF) is set to return to Alabama next week, March 2-7, for the third stop on the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour – the Favorite Fishing Stage Three on Lewis Smith Lake Presented by Mercury . Hosted by Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism, Cullman County Parks and Rec and the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce, the event will feature 80 of the world’s best professional anglers, including prominent bass-fishing names like Ott DeFoe, Kevin VanDam and Jacob Wheeler , along with 14 Alabama pros – including REDCREST 2021 champion Dustin Connell, Mark Daniels, Jr ., Boyd Duckett, Timmy Horton , Randy Howell, Russ Lane, Jordan Lee, Matt Lee, Justin Lucas, Keith Poche, Ryan Salzman, Fletcher Shryock, Greg Vinson and Jesse Wiggins.
This star-studded group of anglers will compete over the six-day event for a total purse of more than $800,000, including a top payout of $100,000 and valuable points to qualify for REDCREST 2023 – the Bass Pro Tour championship.
“It is an honor for Cullman, Alabama to host the MLF Bass Pro Tour Stage Three event launching from Smith Lake Park,” said Jeff Tolbert, Chamber Board Chair and owner of Trident Marina. “The County, City and Chamber are excited to partner once again as the “Cullman LOC” in bringing this event to our area & showcasing our great community and beautiful Smith Lake. This event brings revenue and tourism to our local businesses, and we are delighted to have the anglers and their families, along with the MLF staff, back in Cullman once again.”
The upcoming event marks the second time the Bass Pro Tour has competed on Lewis Smith Lake. The Bass Pro Tour last visited Lewis Smith Lake in 2019 – Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, rode the morning shad spawn in the Championship Round to put 30 fish on the SCORETRACKER® for 47 pounds to take home the winning trophy and top award of $100,000.
Cullman pro Matt Lee said that after back-to-back mediocre events, he needs a “redemption tournament” and what better place to do it than right in his own backyard.
“I started the 2021 season with two terrible events that bit me in the long run, so this year I really wanted to make the Knockout Round in the early events,” said Lee. “I didn’t quite make the cut in the last two tournaments, but I finished close. I just can’t stumble any more. This next event on Smith Lake is a bit of added pressure because it’s my home body of water, so I know it well and should catch them there, but the group of guys we fish against are so good that it can be difficult to separate yourself.”
Lee said the first two events of the 2022 season were a tough bite for everyone on the tour, turning into more of a big-fish tournament than a numbers game, and while he’s had opportunities, he just hasn’t quite made it happen.
“This tournament really all depends on the weather,” said Lee. “It could be a difficult time to catch fish on Smith Lake because the weather is still transitioning, but it looks like we’ll get some rain next week, which will make for better fishing.
“The fish aren’t all out deep or up in shallow water – and guys can catch them both shallow and deep – which really spreads the fish out and makes it more challenging to figure out. I expect we will see a lot of different styles and techniques of fishing throughout the event.”
Lee said the lake being wide open makes the event even more complex for local anglers as well, because there isn’t really a “home-lake advantage”, and anglers can fish to their strengths.
“I expect we’ll see guys catching largemouth in stained water, and spotted bass in clean water – fishing out deep in over 100 feet of water and up on the bank where bass are getting ready to spawn,” said Lee. “This is really going to be another tournament where anyone can come and fish in whatever manner they choose to.”
When asked about his weight predictions, Lee said it’s difficult to speculate weight on the Bass Pro Tour where every scorable fish counts because if the weather is right and an angler gets on the fish, that number can change drastically in a short amount of time. However, Lee estimates it will take an average of 33 pounds per day to make it into the top 10 and at least 50 pounds to win the Championship Round.
“Cullman competes with anywhere else, as far as fishing fans go, and the fisheries in the area – including Smith Lake and the Tennessee River – are nationally known fishing destinations,” said Lee. “I graduated from Cullman High School, so being from that community and watching Smith Lake grow into more and more of the tournament scene and hosting professional events is awesome.
“I don’t think anyone who comes to Cullman or Smith Lake has a bad thing to say about the area, the community or the fishery. It’s a great place to call home and when you add the fishing component, that makes it really special.”
Anglers will launch each day at 7:30 a.m. from the Smith Lake State Park, located at 403 County Road 386 in Çullman, Alabama. Each day’s General Tire Takeout will be held at the park, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Fans are welcome to attend all launch and takeout events and also encouraged to follow the event online throughout the day on the MLF NOW!® live stream and SCORETRACKER® coverage at MajorLeagueFishing.com.
The tournament will feature the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format, in which anglers catch as much weight as they can each day, while also feeling the pressure and intensity of the SCORETRACKER® leaderboard. The tournament is being filmed for broadcast later this year on the Discovery Channel.
The Favorite Fishing Stage Three on Lewis Smith Lake Presented by Mercury will feature anglers competing with a 1-pound, 8-ounce minimum weight requirement for a bass to be deemed scorable. Minimum weights are determined individually for each competition waters that the Bass Pro Tour visits, based on the productivity, bass population and anticipated average size of fish in each fishery.
The Bass Pro Tour features a field of 80 of the top professional anglers in the world competing across seven regular-season tournaments around the country, contending for millions of dollars and valuable points to qualify for the annual General Tire Heavy Hitters all-star event and the REDCREST 2023 championship.
The 40 Anglers in Group A compete in their two-day Qualifying Round on Wednesday and Friday – the 40 anglers in Group B on Thursday and Saturday. After each two-day Qualifying Round is complete, the anglers that finish in 2nd through 20th place from both groups advance to Sunday’s Knockout Round, while the winner of each group advances directly to Monday’s Championship Round. In the Knockout Round, weights are zeroed, and the remaining 38 anglers compete to finish in the top 8 to advance to the Championship Round. In the final day Championship Round, weights are zeroed, and the highest one-day total wins the top prize of $100,000.
The MLF NOW!® broadcast team of Chad McKee, Marty Stone and J.T. Kenney will break down the extended action on all six days of competition from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT. MLF NOW!® will be live streamed on MajorLeagueFishing.com and the MyOutdoorTV (MOTV) app.
Television coverage of the Favorite Fishing Stage Three on Lewis Smith Lake Presented by Mercury will premiere at 7 a.m. ET, Oct. 1 on the Discovery Channel. New MLF episodes premiere each Saturday morning on the Discovery Channel, with additional re-airings on the Outdoor Channel. Each two-hour long reality-based episode goes in-depth to break down each day of competition.
Proud sponsors of the 2022 MLF Bass Pro Tour include: 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia, A.R.E. Truck Caps, B&W Trailer Hitches, BallyBet, Bass Cat, Bass Pro Shops, Berkley, Covercraft, Favorite Fishing, Garmin, General Tire, Googan Baits, Grundéns, Guaranteed Rate, Humminbird, Lowrance, Luminox, Mercury, Minn Kota, Mossy Oak, Nitro Performance Boats, Onyx, Plano, Power-Pole, Power Stop, Rapala, Starbrite, Toro, Toyota, Wrangler, Yellowstone Bourbon and Zoom.
For complete details and updated information on Major League Fishing and the Bass Pro Tour, visit MajorLeagueFishing.com. For regular updates, photos, tournament news and more, follow MLF’s social media outlets at Facebook , Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
About Major League Fishing
Major League Fishing (MLF) is the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, producing more than 250 events annually at some of the most prestigious fisheries in the world, while broadcasting to America’s living rooms on CBS, the Discovery Channel, the Outdoor Channel, CBS Sports Network, the World Fishing Network, and on-demand on MyOutdoorTV (MOTV). Headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with offices in Benton, Kentucky, the MLF roster of bass anglers includes the world’s top pros and more than 30,000 competitors in all 50 states and 13 countries. In 2019, MLF expanded its portfolio of catch, weigh, and immediately release events to include the sport’s strongest five-biggest-fish format tournament circuits. Since its founding in 2011, MLF has advanced the sport of competitive fishing through its premier television broadcasts and livestreams and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for bass through research, education, fisheries enhancement, and fish care.
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