The professional bass anglers who comprise the 80-man field in Major League Fishing's (MLF) new Bass Pro Tour have voted no to required entry fees for their participation in the 2019 tournament competitions.
The no-fee decision is the first of its kind for a high stakes professional bass fishing series and reveals the kind of autonomous authority the Bass Pro Tour participants have as a group for guiding the future of their events and the sport
No entry fees means the cash payouts per event will be less than initially announced, although still higher than what the anglers have become accustomed to on other trails. Another advantage to this decision is that the anglers effectively eliminated one of the greatest expenses and upfront cash hurdles professional anglers had to incur annually.
"What brought this great group of anglers together in the first place was the allure of being able to ultimately control our own destiny because collectively we now make the rules," said Gary Klein, who was instrumental in the formation of MLF and the Bass Pro Tour. "It's all about the big picture of what we want this sport to be and getting it there. We call this 'Major League' Fishing for a reason and no entry fees is a monumental move in our achieving that distinction."
The MLF expansion with the new Bass Pro Tour has advanced rapidly since being announced in mid-September. It was made possible when Bass Pro Shops and Outdoor Sportsman Group (OSG) pledged additional support to an already long list of MLF sponsors.
In addition to the pro tour, MLF will continue its popular Cup events and General Tire World Championship, airing on Outdoor Channel and CBS, respectively. All events will use the same entertaining MLF format of catch, weigh and immediate release of bass during competitions.
"Things are moving fast and each new step this group takes seems to be another giant leap in bringing attention to fishing," MLF President and CEO, Jim Wilburn said. "It's a pleasure to watch the enthusiasm and sincerity of the greatest bass anglers in the world as they take the reins in advancing the sport to the benefit of everyone who loves to fish."