Major League Fishing (MLF) announced today the 2021 Bass Pro Tour angler roster. The roster includes 75 returning anglers, headlined by 2020 Angler of the Year (AOY), Heavy Hitters winner and General Tire World Champion Jordan Lee, five-time MLF event winner Jacob Wheeler, Ott DeFoe, Edwin Evers, and the man considered by many to be the greatest professional angler of all-time, Kevin VanDam.
Joining the 75 returning anglers will be DeBary, Florida's John Cox. A perennial AOY contender during his 10-year FLW Tour/Pro Circuit career, and the 2016 Forrest Wood Cup Champion, Cox was an original invitee when the Bass Pro Tour roster was filled in 2018. He opted not to accept that invitation then, but still fished the FLW Tour and Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Cox now plans to fish both the Bass Pro Tour and the Pro Circuit in 2021, setting the table to fish upwards of 20 pro-level events if he qualifies for REDCREST and MLF Cups.
"I like the lakes on the schedule, I like the payouts, and I like that I can fish a lot of tournaments," Cox said. "I don't know exactly how I'll do in the MLF format for a full season, but even if I don't do great, I feel good about my chances to make a few top 10s and cash checks. There are a few places on that 2021 schedule where I think to myself 'Hmmm, I know a spot or two here or there, I think I might do quite well in that one.' I'm excited about it."
The four remaining roster spots at the seven regular-season Bass Pro Tour events will be filled by the top anglers from each Pro Circuit event in 2021. The top four finishers from each individual Pro Circuit event will receive automatic invitations to compete in the Bass Pro Tour events that follow, opening the door for the Pro Circuit's top performers to compete in the MLF catch, weigh, immediate-release format and another opportunity at a $100,000 first-place check.
The four roster spots at the Bass Pro Tour Stage One event at Sam Rayburn Reservoir (March 21-26) will be filled based on the 2020 Pro Circuit AOY standings; Pro Circuit event number one - Feb. 11-14 at Lake Okeechobee, Florida - will then feed Bass Pro Tour Stage Two at Lake Travis (April 30-May 5) and so on.
"We're all fishing to try to make the Bass Pro Tour, and this will be a really good opportunity for a guy to get his feet wet in that format," said 11-year Pro Circuit veteran angler Bill McDonald, who got his first taste of the MLF format at the 2020 TITLE championship at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. "You can tell yourself that the Bass Pro Tour format isn't really that much more pressure, but I can tell you from experience that it takes a strong mental game. It's the highest of highs to hear your name at the top (of SCORETRACKER®), but your brain goes crazy when you drop rapidly. It'll be valuable experience to qualify for one of those (Bass Pro Tour) events."
The 76 professional anglers that will compete on the 2021 Bass Pro Tour are:
Mark Daniels Jr.
Alton Jones Jr.