Major League Fishing announced the venue for the second stop on its new eight-event Bass Pro Tour is Lake Conroe, a popular recreational lake in Texas located about 40 miles north of Houston. The news follows only a few days after the league announced its series opener is scheduled for Florida's Kissimmee Chain of Lakes in late January.
Many of the Bass Pro Tour's 80-man roster, among which are seven anglers from Texas, have experience on the 21,000-acre lake that serves as an alternate drinking water supply to Houston. However, previous knowledge may not be much of a factor during the 2019 Bass Pro Tour competition dates of Feb. 12-17, because recent rains have carried new debris into the lake to create additional bass hideouts and possibly altered some of the known brushpiles and other existing cover in the lake.
"Lake Conroe is a great bass tournament fishery because it has such a diverse variety of cover including docks, islands, bulkheads, humps and standing timber," said Michael Mulone, MLF Senior Director of Events and Partnerships. "Complementing the usual appearance of a double-digit bass caught during competition, is the great presence and support by our hosting partners and the entire angling community from the region and state."
"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. actively supports catch-weigh-immediate release tournament practices in Texas," said Dave Terre, Chief Inland Fisheries Management and Research, TPWD Inland Fisheries Division. "The format used by Major League Fishing maximizes survival of tournament-caught bass by totally by bypassing live well containment or a stressful stage weigh-in process."
"They even use unique tournament rules to promote proper handling of fish while on the water. We know, based on our studies, that larger bass are particularly susceptible to stress and delayed mortality with traditional tournament formats. MLF's low impact format may be particularly meaningful to Lake Conroe, or others lakes, where fisheries management efforts are geared towards the production of big fish. In our mind, the MLF format has the same impact as simple "catch and release" fishing - It's practically zero! It really can't get any better than that," Terre added.
Although in development over a period of years, the creation and launch of the Bass Pro Tour was officially announced in September. Its catch-weigh-immediate release format is one distinguishing characteristic from the other large tournament trails, but so is the fact that all of the rules for the new tour are decided by and voted upon by the Bass Pro Tour anglers.
Perhaps the most game-changing rule implemented by the anglers to date is when they voted to have no entry fees for participation in the 2019 Bass Pro Tour events.
"We control our own destiny, and that's what makes Major League Fishing and this new tour so unique," said MLF pro Gary Klein, a Texas-resident and co-founder of the league and the Bass Pro Tour. "We see competitive bass fishing as a major league sport and that's the basis for all of our decisions going forward. As for the Conroe destination, I can't be more pleased than to have a Texas lake become one of our earliest stops in 2019."