Major League Fishing and FLW announced the suspension of all public gatherings associated with their events through April 12, 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was made to safeguard the health and well-being of all involved. Public gatherings include all fan meet-n-greets associated with the Bass Pro Tour, and the attendance of fans and non-essential staff at all FLW tournaments, including weigh-ins. Due to the nature of competitive bass fishing, the league will continue to host tournaments for participating anglers. Decisions regarding future events will be made in the coming weeks as the league monitors the situation with COVID-19 under the guidance of medical and Public Health professionals.
"We're taking these proactive measures to ensure the health and safety of our anglers, volunteers, fans, and staff," said Jim Wilburn, MLF President and CEO. "As a unique outdoor sport where competitors have limited interaction, we feel that we can continue to host tournaments under an abundance of caution. Should circumstances change around a particular event, we will alert those competitors and volunteers directly involved with as much notice as possible."
Public appearances of the MLF Pros associated with Stages Three and Four of the Bass Pro Tour will not take place. Fans are encouraged to remain home and watch their favorite anglers on MLFNOW! rather than gathering in person.
Events cancelled include the following:
- Friday, Mar. 13, 2020, MLF All Access - Angler Appearances at Neon Moon, Yantis, Texas
- Saturday, Mar. 14, 2020, MLF All Access - Student Angler Clinic at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Athens, Texas
- Sunday, Mar. 15, 2020, MLF All Access - Crawfish Boil, Neon Moon, Yantis, Texas
- Friday, Apr. 3 - Sunday, Apr. 5, 2020, MLF Midway, Garner, N.C.
Attendance at all FLW weigh-ins will be limited to essential staff and immediate family. Considering the breadth and scope of FLW tournaments across the continental U.S.A, the league feels this decision is in the best interest of public health including volunteers, anglers, fans, and staff. Events affected by this weigh-in attendance restriction include:
- Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Lake Martin, March 19-22, 2020
- Tackle Warehouse Pro Circuit at Cherokee Lake, April 2-5, 2020
- Toyota Series Southern Division at Lake Okeechobee, March 12-14, 2020
- Toyota Series Western Division at Lake Havasu, March 12-14, 2020
- Toyota Series Plains Division at Lake of the Ozarks, March 26-28, 2020
- Toyota Series Southeastern Division at Wheeler Lake, March 26-28, 2020
- Toyota Series Southwestern Division at Fort Gibson Lake, April 8-10, 2020
All weigh-ins associated with Phoenix Bass Fishing League, Abu Garcia College Fishing presented by YETI, and FLW High School Fishing presented by Favorite Fishing tournaments held between March 12th and April 12th will also be affected by limited attendance. Only essential staff and immediate family will be able to attend.
"We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our anglers, sponsors, and fans," commented Kathy Fennel, FLW Executive Vice President and General Manager. "We realize that fan attendance at these weigh-ins is a highlight of our events, however based on the current understanding of how the COVID-19- is progressing in the United States, we feel everyone's health and safety must outweigh the inevitable disappointment."
In addition to addressing fan involvement, Major League Fishing will continue to assess the impact of COVID-19 and take the advice and mandates set forth by local, state, and national health officials to address the potential impact events will have on competitors, volunteers, and staff. Cancellations or postponements of tournaments and competitions will be announced directly to the registered anglers, school officials, and confirmed volunteers as needed.
MLF and FLW recommends that everyone follow the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on everyday prevention of viral infection, which include:
- Stay home when sick or living with a sick person.
- Cover the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- Limit face-to-face contact.
- Consult a healthcare provider as needed.